This sounds strange, but I've had luck recovering data from "crashed" hard drives (physically fine but the formatting got borked or something) on a PC. There is a program called MacDrive by Mediafour that will let you read Mac formatted disks on a PC. The software has a trial period so you probably won't have to buy it. My theory is that their program doesn't go through all the checks the native Mac OS does automatically. You may or may not get damaged files but there is a good chance the disk will mount and allow you to read it that way.
If your PC doesn't have firewire you can take the drive out of your laptop (very easy for this model, pull battery and three screws) and plug it in to an internal drive to USB adapter, which can be had for about $20.
After reading Mayer's suggestion, he's certainly got the simpler option. Turn on the laptop while holding down the "T" key until a big firewire symbol starts bouncing around the screen. At this point your whole computer has been reduced to an external hard disk with a battery. Plug in via firewire to another mac and see if the drive mounts. If it doesn't go into apps/utilities/disk utility and see if it shows in there. If it's in there you may be able to run repairs or mount read only. If it's not showing or OS X can't mount it maybe MacDrive can salvage your data. Worst case scenario, you can send the drive off for recovery.