Wednesday, December 10, 2014

No Diving Allowed



At the risk of sounding immodest - and if you have ever happened by this space before you are acutely aware of what a concern of mine that is - I am quite good at what it is I do to earn my daily bread.  That being said, I know without reservation that I would be better at it - perhaps excellent at it in fact - if I had a true passion for it.  I do not.  

The Republic shall neither rise nor fall based upon the outcome of any of the matters that I handle.  There are attorneys who practice in the area of criminal law, where issues of freedom and justice carry the day.  Me?  I defend individuals, companies and public entities in civil suits, an arena in which far more often than not the issues of cost-benefit analysis and financial pragmatism carry the day.  It is not the kiddie pool for, after all, workers' compensation practitioners are entitled to a place to swim.  It is, however, a pool configured in such a way that diving headfirst into the water is not allowed and drowning - while a possibility - is not ever on the forefront of anyone's mind. 

Yesterday I spent several hours at depositions in an automobile negligence case.  As luck would have it, several of the parties are members of the same immediate family.  Daughter is involved in an accident on her way to work when her vehicle is run off the road by a tractor-trailer.  Her car smacks into a concrete divider immediately adjacent to the left travel lane on the roadway and becomes disabled.  However, because the shoulder is less than a car-width wide, a portion of her disabled vehicle is actually in the left travel lane. 

A girl of nineteen, involved in a serious accident less than ten minutes from her home, she does something not at all surprising:  She calls her mom for help.  Mom - my client - and the girl's eighteen-year-old brother rush to the scene to assist her.  As they arrive, Mom activates the flasher/hazard lights on her car and pulls up to within about four feet of her daughter's rear bumper.  Mama bear shields baby bear from danger. 

Except, when the eighteen-year-old son exits Mom's car to help big sister, something happens that none of them anticipated:  A woman driving in the left travel lane of the highway somehow manages to NOT see either the block-and-one-half sized SUV that my client drives or its flashing hazard lights.  She runs right into its rear end, which pushes it forward...and into my client's eighteen-year-old son as he stands between her car and his sister's car trying to help his sister.  

Fortunately, all things considered, although he was injured he did not sustain any horrific injuries.  No closed-head injuries, no broken bones, no lost limbs.  Given the nature of the case and the nature of the system of civil justice, he will likely receive some amount of compensation for his injuries.  What amount I know not.  I suspect that most of it - if not all of it- will be paid to him on behalf of the woman who used his Mom's SUV like a croquet ball.  

My client is a lovely woman and both of her adult children are a credit to her.  A nice family all the way around.  As my client was leaving her deposition yesterday afternoon, after thanking me for representing her, she apologized to me for being a bit "distracted" while I was helping her prepare for it.  It turns out that just last week she was diagnosed with breast cancer - a tumor in her left breast - and has spent much of her time these past few days discussing treatment options with her doctor and preparing her husband and her two children for what lies ahead for her - and for them.  

I spent fourteen-plus hours yesterday working at earning my living.  And none of it - Hell not the sum of the OTHER eight hundred and sixty-five minutes - came close to rivaling in importance the five minutes my client spent sharing with me what she did about her diagnosis and her future.  I have no idea whether anything I said to her was of any comfort to her.  I hope it was although I suspect it was not.    

Pretty fucking humbling.  Pretty fucking humbling indeed...

...and sadder even still. 

-AK 

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