The Cycling In The South Bay blog had a great post recently that captures very well the agony/frustration/despair that often afflicts my clients who have suffered life-changing bike crashes.
The blog post looks at a January 2015 collision Deb Banks suffered when she was run down by a drunk driver. She suffered multiple serious injuries: a fractured pelvis, a huge gash on her arm , and most devastating, severe life-changing leg injuries.
Deb has endured five surgeries since then, and is still fighting for recovery every day. The driver was sentenced to nine years in jail. Sadly, Deb will suffer much longer than those nine years as she will have a lifetime of pain and hurdles to overcome on the road to recovery.
To understand all that she has endured, read the blog post here. It’s heartbreaking, and probably hard for many cyclists to read. But you should read it. Now. It could happen to any of us at any time we are riding.
The blog post has a couple important messages for all of us who ride bikes:
- “First, it’s an explicit command for you to check your auto liability insurance and make sure that you have at least $500,000 in uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If your carrier won’t let you insure to that amount, change carriers.”
- “Second, it’s a commentary on the trajectory of injury. We see Facebook posts of friends in the hospital, or gory aftermath photos, or black-and-white images of pins and bolts drilled into bone, and then we move on to the next item. It’s difficult to comprehend that after we’ve glanced at the photo, the person is still living with the injury, suffering from it, and in some cases is going to be dealing with it the rest of their life.”
- “Third, this is the story of how one person deals with having her entire life upended as a result of one drunk driver. It’s not an easy story or a saccharine one, and it doesn’t have a happy ending because there is no ‘ending.’ There’s just a story about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and moving forward with what you’ve got left.”
The blog post writer concludes with some comments worth highlighting here:
- “The real jail sentence has been the collateral life damage, and it’s something that every injured cyclist knows about intimately.”
- Deb’s leg injury “requires constant daily care. It hurts all the time. It gets infected. She can’t swim, can’t bike, can barely walk, sleeps with her leg on a foam pad, and can’t sleep under the covers. In other words, her life has completely changed as she’s been thrust into the alt-universe of the catastrophically injured, i.e., those who carry massive disruptions to their daily life and emotional well-being along with the catastrophic physical injuries.”
- “… If the ankle never mends, life today becomes a template for the rest of life, which means dealing with a leg that is permanently disabled.”
- “One unexpected benefit to constantly struggling is empathy. Deb now ‘gets it’ in a profound way. However big her challenges are, she understands and empathizes with people who are in even bigger pain, in even more dire straits with no hope, ever, of recovery.”
- “… She wants to prove that she can come back, that she can do it again, and then maybe she’ll be done with it. It’s occurred to her that cycling for hundreds of miles may not be her thing anymore, but if she does bow out, she’s vowed to do it on her terms, not on the terms of (driver) Gabriel Ray. ‘He doesn’t get to decide how I choose to live my life. He doesn’t.’”
Thanks for reading, and be sure to read the complete blog post!
About “Wheels of Justice”
Welcome to “Wheels of Justice” a column co-written by New York Bike Lawyers James B. Reed, Esq. and Daniel Flanzig, Esq. Jim and Daniel are both active Trial Lawyers representing cyclists in New York. With Jim’s office located in Elmira and Daniel’s in Manhattan and Long Island, they have collaborated to produce a monthly column on legal issues for New York cyclists. Each month Jim and Daniel will provide guidance on cycling safety, advocacy, bike crashes or insurance issues relevant to all cyclists across the State. Whether you ride in Albany, Buffalo, Brooklyn Manhattan or Montauk, Dan and Jim have you covered.