It was the end of a perfect September day when Brandon’s life changed forever. While riding in the passenger seat of his friend’s car, the traffic light ahead turned red. By the time Brandon realized his friend hadn’t seen the light change, it was too late.
As the 1998 Ford Mustang GT sped across the intersection, another vehicle slammed into the passenger side — the side Brandon was on. Metal crunched and the two vehicles spun out of control. When emergency responders rushed to the scene, they found the crumpled remains of the ill-fated vehicle with the 18-year-old young man still trapped inside.
Using the Jaws of Life extraction tool, they pried him from the wreckage and rushed him to the hospital. After X-rays, a full-body MRI, and a CT scan of his head, doctors determined one of his femurs was broken. The dark bruising on his chest and collar area would heal with time.
Brandon spent three days in the hospital, recuperating, not sure what would happen next. At one point, his father sat down and showed him the hospital bills. The young man was shocked. Surely insurance would help cover some of the cost? His father thought it over and said he would do some research.
The next morning, as Brandon anxiously pondered his situation, the hospital TV began playing a commercial featuring Gary Martin Hays. Intrigued, he called his father, asking him if he could call the law firm to see if Gary Martin Hays & Associates could help them. Brandon later remarked that he’d grown up seeing commercials for the firm but had never thought anything of them until he found himself lying in a hospital bed through no fault of his own.
The law firm accepted the family’s claim, met with his father, and asked Brandon to describe his life before and after the accident. This is his story:
To Whom It May Concern,
I've been working at Kohls since April 2016. In the ensuing months, I was recognized on several occasions by customers for my outstanding customer service. I had earned compliments from all of my supervisors and several members of the staff. I would work nine, 10, even 11-hour long days during the back-to-school shopping seasons.
I could tackle any task thrown at me: I would carry 50-inch televisions to customers’ cars across the parking lot; I would take boxes full of products that were returned to us to the back dock; I would run around the store, finding item after item for our customers and then ring them up at the nearest register.
When school started, I cut my hours back from 30 hours to a weekly average of 21, with 11 courses at Kennesaw State University. I was in the process of founding a School of Music A Capella Choir, not unlike the one I began in high school that earned me the $1,500 scholarship that allowed me to attend this nationally accredited university.
I was taking vocal lessons and music theory classes, truly investing in who I wanted to be. I placed into the highest available freshman French course, and had, for the first time in my life, maintained straight A's. I was thriving.
In high school, I worked very hard for this opportunity to learn and grow as a musician. I took vocal lessons with my chorus teacher before school, I was in every concert, auditioned for every solo, was in every musical; my passion for music drove me to excellence.
I worked 25 hours a week at McDonald's, around a full rehearsal schedule and AP courses. I went through essays, interviews, and auditions, and finally, it all paid off in the form of an outstanding scholarship and a place in the highest ensemble offered at KSU.
But school and work aren't my only passions. I took to dancing, taking private lessons from a good friend. I was good, too. I was flexible and strong. I could do lifts in musical numbers and even had a decent cartwheel up my sleeve.
That was all before the accident.
My whole life changed on September 11, 2016. In a near-fatal car wreck, I broke my right femur. My best friend and I were coasting down the road, a great day of studying and Starbucks coming to an end as we were on the way home. I was the one to notice the red light — unfortunately, I was too late.
I, naturally, wound up in the hospital, and henceforth discharged four days later. I was trapped in bed for weeks, unable to pursue my passion and continue learning.
I had to unenroll from my university, which I soon realized was no easy task. I called the registrar office to unenroll medically and it was roll after roll of red tape. I couldn't medically withdraw from all 11 courses without failing three unless I petitioned to have the fails removed from my transcript. I wasn't eligible for financial aid the following semester because the three failing courses would put me on academic probation. I was losing my scholarship because of an insufficient GPA.
All this work that I put in during my high school years, the audition anxiety, the performances, all of it amounted to nothing. I had lost direction and purpose.
It wasn't bad enough to lose my paycheck, but then losing my ability to work. I can't pull long hours like I used to, I can't help customers like I used to. Now, it feels like every little thing will set me off. I'm on my feet all day, my leg is hurting, and before, customer complaints used to roll right by, but now it grates on my nerves. It's painful and feels like a never-ending series of losses.
I can't dance anymore, not like I used to. My friend offered a session and I was so eager to get back to something that was easy for me. I was excited to get my blood pumping and put some sweat into something I really enjoyed again. It started going downhill right from the beginning when every stretch was shorter and hurt more.
Things that used to come easily to me like toe touches and high kicks, now I can barely balance on one leg. I floundered at almost every turn. I lost steps, missed cues, and was tripping all over myself. It was awful. I thought, ‘Hey at least there's still running.’ No such luck. I can't even exercise like I used to. I'd lost everything.
So like a fallen house of cards, I'm picking myself back up. But I wonder, will it work this time? Will it have all been for nothing, or will something good come from this? I just wish I knew.
Fast forward to more than a year after the accident, Brandon was kind enough to sit down with us for an interview to talk about the accident and his family’s experience as clients of the Law Firm of Gary Martin Hays & Associates.
Law Firm: What happened the day of the accident?
Brandon: I had been studying all day with my best friend on campus and we went to get Starbucks back in town. On our way back, we were just talking when I looked up and said, ‘Hey, that light is red.’ We were driving across the intersection and that’s when I saw headlights out of the corner of my eye.
Law Firm: That must have been scary. Do you remember anything immediately afterward?
Brandon: I was definitely in shock. But there was also the sensation of comfort. I got lucky because there was a couple that pulled over onto the side of the road who got out of their car and came over and held my hand the entire time until the EMTs got there. It was really, really comforting to have those people there. It made the experience much less traumatic.
Law Firm: Had you ever been in a car accident before?
Brandon: I had never actually been in a car accident at all before. Never broken a bone either.
Law Firm: What was going through your mind after the accident?
Brandon: Honestly, for the first couple of days being in the hospital, I had no idea what was going to happen. My dad approached me and he was like, ‘Hey, um, so here’s what the hospital bills are looking like.’ And my jaw dropped to the floor.
We talked it over and I asked him ‘Is there somebody we could call? Aren’t there people out there who can help people like me in a situation like this?’ And he was like yeah, and said he would try to look around.
I woke up in the morning, turned on the TV in the hospital room and I saw the commercial for Gary Martin Hays. I called my dad and said ‘I’ve been seeing this commercial since I was a little kid. I know this commercial inside and out. What are the odds that we could call and talk to them?’ And he was like, ‘Okay, I’ll give them a call.’
It was about two weeks later after I got back to my house and got re-settled that we had somebody come out to the house and meet us. We had the whole discussion and everything, and it was awesome! They were very friendly and I felt like I had somebody who was really trying to get to know what happened. That really helped me through it.
Law Firm: What stood out to you after that first meeting?
Brandon: They really went out of their way and brought all of their products and services to me in the comfort of my home. That really made me feel very cared for. It didn’t feel like I was having this big daunting meeting; it really just felt like I was having this discussion and they were there to listen and wanted to hear me out.
Law Firm: How would describe your experience with Gary Martin Hays & Associates? What was your impression of the firm?
Brandon: Every question that I had at every phone call was answered before I knew to ask the question. Every time I was on the phone with somebody and they were giving
me an update, the only thing I had to ask was, ‘What do I need to do next?’ And the answer was always ‘nothing’ or send us a picture of this document. It was very easy on my end.
Law Firm: Would you recommend our firm to your family and friends?
Brandon: I would absolutely recommend Gary Martin Hays. Really, as it came to the end and I was getting phone calls that were saying ‘Hey, you know, we’re wrapping this up. This step just came in. We’re really moving on to the end,’ it was like every time that happened I just got so relieved.
It was the communication, for me. It was that I was constantly kept in the loop. I never felt like I had questions to ask because the information was continuously presented to me.
Law Firm: Did it feel like Gary Martin Hays & Associates had your back?
Brandon: I absolutely felt like Gary Martin Hays had my back. Frankly, I would look forward to the calls from Gary Martin Hays because all of the people that I would get a call from had such a great attitude and they were all so energetic. It felt like they were, you know, really excited to continue helping me and that was so awesome. It felt like they were so engaged right up until I walked in the door at the very end and the receptionist was so kind and funny.
Law Firm: What stood out to you the most about the people working at the firm?
Brandon: I was floored by the balance in the approachability and the professionalism that everybody I came in contact with had. They were very knowledgeable and were able to consider the questions that I would come up with and present them to me before I knew to ask them. And that, to me, really showed that they were on top of it and really lived up to these years and years of experience.
Gary Martin Hays & Associates helped Brandon coordinate his medical care after the wreck. He was able to treat with a physical therapist to regain strength in his right leg. By November 2016, Brandon could walk and work without pain and planned to start college classes again at the beginning of 2017. Brandon’s case concluded in October 2017. It was an honor and privilege for us to work on his claim.
The letter and interview have been edited for clarity. The client gave the testimony of their own free will and was not paid for their appearance.