As we've now moved out of 2020 into 2021 I don't mind telling you that the last year plus it's been a struggle for me to focus on the positive. But when I do find the positive it feels not much better to know it's still out there. Anyway, a recent article I saw through KGW8, a local news outlet, was notable for me on many levels. One, the story is just amazing and wonderful. Two, it reinforces the importance of what we do as injury law attorneys.
According to the article, Jack Hogan was paralyzed in a car accident which occurred while he was returning from a weekend camping trip with friends. This catastrophic injury which happened after the car lost control on a gravel road and rolled several times, left him with some movement in his arms but no movement in his hands or fingers as of the date of the article.
The focus of the story, however, is that over the past few weeks, friends, family, and even subcontractors had donated time, materials, and labor—as Jack rehabs in the hospital—to execute a coordinated project which ensures that Jack's Multnomah Village home can accommodate the life-changing impacts this incident has had on Jack and his body.
Jack will have a 400-pound electric wheelchair, according to the article, for example.
This is one aspect of damages in catastrophic injury cases which often can be difficult for able-bodied people to fully grasp and understand as they try and evaluate catastrophic injury claims—that a desire to live independently is strong, but to be able to meet all of the challenges living independently after a catastrophic injury is staggeringly difficult. In catastrophic injury cases, there are experts who can be hired to project the different modifications which would need to be made for a home to accommodate the injured person and the cost of those modifications can then be included in the action and proven to the jury through the expert so the injured person can afford to make those changes so as to live comfortably or independently, if possible.
In this article, Jack's family home has been adapted for him to live in for now with a stated hope that one day he can live independently.
If you think about all of the things we do day in and day out with our bodies—our feet and our legs, and our arms and our hands and our fingers—the list is long. Something as simple as passing through a doorway, too, which we do without a second thought becomes more difficult with a 400-pound size of all wheelchair. Or pulling a 400-pound wheelchair up to a sink in the bathroom so you can brush your teeth, but what if you can't lean forward or reach forward effectively to grab your brush or to turn on or off the water, how do you make it happen?
The only way to truly evaluate cases like this is too spend time with the person to really understand all of the challenges they face so that those can be appropriately communicated and presented to a judge or a jury, but also to really just think about everything we do on a daily basis with purpose and understanding as to just how challenging that could be should our circumstances change dramatically.
Anyway, I do not know the friends, the family, nor the subcontractors who donated time, materials, labor, etc., to Jack Hogan. But I have to thank them all because this story highlights people at their best. Putting themselves in another person's shoes and new reality and then taking the time and making the effort to improve their quality of life as much as possible under the circumstances. I appreciate knowing the positive is still out there! I also do not know Jack Hogan. But I wish him all the best and I'm glad to know he's surrounded by good people.