One of the biggest barriers I have found in connecting with potential clients is the genuine feeling of distrust most people have toward attorneys. It can take weeks, and sometimes even months to bridge this trust gap with a client. One of the most leery clients I have had the pleasure of finally getting to know is a young man named Beau.
Beau is one of my everyday heroes. He is a single father who works hard to take care of his daughter Z.S. While many people in similar circumstances consider themselves to be a victim, Beau gets up and grinds through each day without a single complaint. During my representation of Beau, he became not only a client but a friend.
One morning in March, Beau got his daughter ready for school, buckled her in her car seat and drove off to his parent’s home on his way to work. This day was like any other day in Beau’s daily routine. The decision of another motorist would change everything.
As Beau entered an intersection near his parent’s home, another motorist, without warning, turned in front of Beau and his daughter. Beau had no time to stop or avoid this collision. As Beau slammed into the other motorist, his daughter’s seat belt and car seat would team up to cause internal injuries. The immense pressure on this little girl’s organs would cause her pancreas to tear in two. Her injuries were so serious the Bozeman Deaconess Hospital was not equipped to handle them. She would be life-flown to Kalispell for treatment. The intensive care unit at Kalispell Regional Medical Center would be Z.S.’s home for the next week.
The relief Beau felt at the sound of laughter in his home would turn as the bills started to arrive. The stack of bills would grow and grow. “At least we have health insurance” Beau thought to himself. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
Beau’s employer, Martel Construction Company chose to enroll in a health care plan that was governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Although he was told otherwise, Beau and his fellow employees of Martel did not have health insurance. These ERISA plans set their own rules and, in Beau’s case, completely refused to pay for any of the medical bills. The stack of bills totaled over $100,000.00.
After Beau’s first visit to my office, my wife Heather commented to me that this man was more than a little uncertain of me. I had to agree that he seemed more than a little concerned about lawyers in general. However, he listened carefully and ultimately agreed to allow me to help his daughter.
Because Beau’s daughter is under eighteen, Montana law requires that a Conservator be appointed to sign any documents on her behalf and manage any funds she might receive. Beau agreed to function as Conservator. In addition, because it was possible that some of the blame for the collision could be directed at Beau, we would need to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to protect Z.S.’s interest. Retired District Court Judge Nels Swandal agreed to serve as Guardian Ad Litem for Z.S. Beau’s family was very lucky to have someone with the background, experience, and wisdom of Nels to protect Z.S.’s interest.
In any personal injury case, but especially a case involving a child, it is critical that an attorney understand the long-term impact of the injuries. In Z.S.’s case, it was very difficult to determine exactly how much future medical care will cost as very few seven year old girls suffer from a severed pancreas. Because this condition was so rare, no medical studies had been done to give anyone an idea of what future medical needs she may have.
In an effort to protect Beau’s daughter, we were able to set aside a significant amount of money that would earn interest until she turned 18. After her 18th birthday, the fund would begin making monthly payments. These monthly payments could be used to pay for future medical costs or pay for a possible increase in health insurance premiums. In addition, we were able to negotiate a significant reduction in the medical bills and use some of the funds from the settlement to satisfy these massive medical bills.
At the end of this case, not only did we set up a brighter future for Beau’s daughter, we made what we hope are some lifelong friends in the process.
If your family is looking for help following a car crash, please give us a call: 406-587-3720. We also are happy to put you in touch with Beau or some of our other past clients who have allowed us to help them.