Well, I can finally identify with some of my clients. In my first 41 years of life, I have been relatively injury free. However, that all changed at the AAJ (American Association for Justice) Conference in Philadelphia, PA.
On Sunday, July 13, 2008, we decided to run a sponsored 5k (3.1 miles) in Philadelphia. About half of the way through, I was talking to the attorney next to me and not paying attention. At that point, there was a lower area of the sidewalk where a tree was planted, and my left foot folded under, breaking my fibula. Of course, with some encouragement, I finished the last mile and a half, and when I stopped, the swelling and stiffness began.
After going to the local hospital, I had the privilege of being given crutches and learning what my clients have known for a long time: frustration, difficulty doing simple tasks, and the general reaction of people when you have a physical challenge. In the last week, I have realized how we take so many things for granted such as taking a shower, walking with a cup of coffee, and simply getting from one block to another.
For example, now that I have a cast, I’m not allowed to get it wet. Do you know how hard it is to take a shower and not get your leg wet? In Philadelphia, I had to cross the street to get to the other hotel. The walk/don’t walk signs have a timer. Every time I started to cross, I would be about halfway there, and the timer would start counting down: 8, 7, 6 . . . I would wonder if I would make it in time. In fact, I attended an InjuryBoard function upstairs in a restaurant with no elevator so I had to hop up. Getting dressed is no longer a thoughtless event.
In my case, no one caused my injury through a negligent or intentional act which makes it so much more apparent why people who ARE injured due to someone else’s wrongful act should be compensated. Pain and suffering are no longer foreign concepts to me. My right leg is sore from having to use it all the time. Now I can empathize with my clients as opposed to before when I could just sympathize with them.
If you are injured and cannot do these simple tasks, write them down. There are so many that we don’t think about: standing, going up and down stairs, playing with our kids, being able to exercise, sleeping comfortably, having to keep your leg up to keep the swelling down, getting in and out of your car, and if it’s your right leg, driving itself. There are many more, but this is the short list off the top of my head. These types of explanations with specific examples help convey to the judge or jury what you are really experiencing.