Beth was an accomplished individual. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she was a master’s certified nurse practitioner and for many years practiced in women’s health, often providing prenatal care to her patients, some involving high risk pregnancies. She was highly respected in her profession, loved her work, was well compensated, and was adored by her patients, several who named their daughters after her. She cherished treating her many female patients over the years. She was also happily married to her long-time husband, Derek, and they were proud to have two daughters who were well on their way to completing their college educations and starting productive careers in their own right. Beth lived a complete life, and planned to work another twenty-five years in this medical field before retiring.
And just like that, her life suddenly changed. First for the worse, but as the months went on, she began to appreciate the blessing in disguise.
Beth was driving home one day on the I-10 freeway when another vehicle lost control and T-boned her vehicle. She suffered devastating multiple fractures to her dominant right arm and wrist, resulting in significant loss of function, and over the next two years would undergo multiple surgeries and extensive, painful physical therapy. Just two months after the collision, Beth’s employer terminated her given that she could no longer use her right hand while caring for her patients, but promised her she could return once she recovered from her injuries. That day would never come. And Beth knew that.
Beth refused to let her life and career goals be defined by her injury. I recall receiving a text from her where she described a recent difficult meeting with her hand surgeon, and the loss of her career, only to tell me “This will not break me!”
At the age of forty-three, Beth decided to go back to school (pulling a “Rodney Dangerfield,” I would joke with her), where she obtained her doctorate as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, a profession in which she would be far less dependent on the use of her right hand. She recently finished her clinical work, graduated near the top of her class, and now at the age of forty-six is back in the work force. She combined her years of providing women’s healthcare with her newly acquired education, and today provides mental health diagnostic care and treatment to her female patients.
Throughout the entire time I represented Beth, I never saw her cry. I had met with Beth, her husband, and even her daughters many times in either our offices or her home, but never saw her cry. How could anybody suffer such a horrific injury and life-altering changes in their life and not cry? Beth was so determined to not let the injury define the remainder of her life that she would not allow herself to cry.
And then one day, it happened. . . twice. We were at mediation, working hard to settle her case, when I told her we had to leave because the three insurance companies were refusing to pay the funds necessary to fully compensate Beth for her injuries, medical bills, loss of career earnings and pain and suffering claims. Beth shed a tear, but knew we needed to leave and continue forward with her case. Several hours later, thanks to the tenacious work of a very capable mediator with whom I have worked for over twenty years, we finally settled her case for the full value of her damages. That’s when I saw Beth tear up again. We all agreed the day had come that our professional relationship was soon ending, but our friendship was only beginning. To this day, my wife Bryn and I and our co-counsel, Paul Ticen, consider Beth and her husband Derek to be very dear friends.
As personal injury attorneys, we don’t meet people on their best day. We meet people when they’re suffering through one of the worst episodes in their entire life. We have been honored to represent many amazing people, like Beth, who took an unexpected adversity and refused to let it define the remainder of their life. I am truly inspired by Beth and others like her, whose optimism in the face of adversity provides a window to a better life ahead.