Almost every day, when Parker Eads wakes up, he puts on his prosthetic leg and thinks about how far he has come since September 19, 2011.
Parker, 22 years-old, had recently returned from serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and had just started his first semester of college at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. On Monday September 19th, Parker had a green signal, was wearing a helmet, and was driving his motorcycle through an intersection one block from the school when a university maintenance truck made an illegal left-hand turn directly into the side of Parker’s motorcycle and crushing his leg.
The collision threw Parker off his bike onto the pavement. One witness stated “there was blood everywhere and the motorcyclist was screaming “Help me! Help me! He was holding his left leg, which was badly torn and broken. He was losing a lot of blood, so I ran back to my car, grabbed some towels, and applied pressure on the leg until the paramedics arrived.”
Parker was life-flighted to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah where he underwent seven different surgeries to try and save his severely damaged leg. But despite his doctors’ best efforts, the damage to muscles, ligaments and tendons in his lower leg were beyond repair. Parker was faced with an awful decision – live the rest of his life walking with a limp and his leg in a brace, or amputate the mangled leg. Parker would later say, “When I realized that my leg would never be the same again, that I would never be able to run on it or snowboard or be active, I knew what I had to do.”
After a lot of prayer and soul searching, and some long discussions with his family and doctors, Parker’s leg was amputated. Fortunately for Parker, the doctor’s were able to save most of his leg by amputating just below the knee. Mobility after a below-the-knee amputation differs greatly from that of an above-the-knee amputation. People who have had a below-the-knee amputation and are fitted with a proper prosthesis usually become mobile quite quickly and can slowly resume most of the pre-amputation activities.
However, despite the hopeful results of the operation, Parker’s surgeries kept him from working and finishing the school year, and before ever returning home from the hospital, Parker began receiving expensive medical bills in the mail. Not knowing what to do or how he could ever pay for these bills, Parker and his family contacted Christensen & Hymas Law Firm.
Since this accident was caused by a Utah Valley University employee who was working within the course and scope of his employment, the State of Utah was responsible. However, unlike an accident with a non-government employee, there were strict statutory deadlines requiring Parker to notify the state agencies of his injuries and damages, or his case would be wiped out and he would be completely precluded from making a claim. Contacting an attorney quickly after the accident was the best thing Parker could have done. At Christensen & Hymas, we immediately started investigating the case. We met with eye witnesses and doctors and filed all the proper paperwork with the state to ensure that his case was preserved. We were even able to get the medical providers to put their medical bills and collection efforts on hold until we could reach a fair settlement for Parker’s case. This allowed Parker to focus on healing.
It is important never to rush into a settlement, especially when the injuries are permanent and will result in a lifetime of medical care. So, even though the claims handler for the state was apologetic and ready to make a settlement offer, we held off. We knew that any offer from the state would be incomplete. Instead, we met with Parker’s doctors and documented what medical care he would need in the future. We met with his prosthetic manufacturer and discovered that his prosthetic leg would need to be replaced every 2-4 years and that he would need multiple prosthetics for different activities. With the help of his doctors and a skilled forensic economist, we created a life care plan that quantified the future care Parker would need and how much it would cost, so we could include it in our settlement negotiations with the state.
The State of Utah has statutory limits on the amount of money an injury victim can recover after an accident. Due to our thorough investigation and our extensive life care plan, our attorneys were able to recover the state’s full policy limits for Parker. Since the settlement was for the full state policy limits, it had to be approved by the legislature and the governor. And since Parker was a student at the university responsible for his accident, we also convinced the university to include full tuition waivers for Parker’s entire college education.
With everything settled, Parker plans to complete his undergraduate education at Utah Valley University and then attend dental school out of state.
I am so grateful for the help that I received from family and friends after my accident – especially Russ and Ken at Christensen & Hymas Law Firm. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without their help. Its been a long hard road, but now I’m able to look back and see how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve come. -Parker Ead