Parenting and Lawyering A Bit of Advice, or Time to Step In?
As both a parent and a lawyer, I’ve learned that the same skill set applies to each role. In both situations we’re there to offer guidance, but occasionally we have to step in when real danger approaches. As a parent, these moments are terror-inducing. As a lawyer, they can be invigorating because of the positive impact we can have in a case. A fewmonths ago, my 18-year old daughter calledme. She was concerned about an eye infection, among other severe symptoms she was experiencing. The university had told her that they couldn’t get her in to see a doctor until Thursday of the following week. She didn’t knowwhat to do except wait for the appointment. I had hoped she would be able to take this on herself, but I suddenly realized she wasn’t appreciating the seriousness of the symptoms and had probably downplayed them when calling the health clinic. (The same thing happens to clients quite often.) I said, “Abby, did you actually tell them about all of the symptoms, how quickly they’d gotten worse, and ask for a more urgent appointment?” Her answer was a sheepish “not really all of that.” I explained what they needed to really know and told her to call back and see what happened. If they really couldn’t fit her in, I’d find another way for her to see someone sooner. Sure enough, she called back a few minutes later, happily reporting they’d be seeing her in a few hours in one of their “urgent care” slots. Of course, then she needed some money for her
from the accident, claiming that other parties had to pay first before they threw their ownmoney into the pot. Since the facility wasn’t getting paid, they were being forced to let her go. This is where we stepped in. Our client’s employer had wrongly classified her accident with workers comp, who then promptly denied her claim. This unraveled further, leaving us in a standoff. It’s worth noting, this woman was an accomplished professional in the insurance industry who was responsible and had purchased good policies for everything you would expect. Still, there she was in a hospital bed, unable to get in or out of a wheelchair and being told none of what she had paid for would be delivered. We met that day at the hospital, forced a four- way conversation to take place between all the insurers and the hospital administration, and within a few days had her set with all the care she needed and deserved. A year later, she’s back at work well on her way to full recovery. And I’m happy to report we resolved all the claims by worker’s comp (yes, they want to be paid back too!) and her health insurer (also wants to be paid back!) and her PIP. All told, six different insurance policies were brought into play tomake sure she received every dollar of compensation she deserved. So, where’s connection? I empoweredmy daughter Abby to stick up for herself, andmy firm stood up for our client. There are times when we have to take full control of a case, but sometimes our clients need to be included in every decision. The same approach goes for parenting. Sometimes a parent intervenes, saving a child fromdanger, and other times we simply advise them that having difficulty breathing is too serious a symptom to leave until next week Thursday.
prescription, but that’s a whole other area of parenthood.
Watching your young adult children struggle with their new responsibilities and challenges isn’t that far off fromwatching a person struggle through all the fear and complexities of their first major insurance claimdispute or personal injury claim. Once you know that what you need, you have to find a way tomake it happen. But as lawyers we have to proceed with caution. In our initial meetings with a client, we do our best to answer any lingering questions, to inquire about any blind spots the client might have. Finding the balance is like being a parent, having to decide if I shouldmarch into the university’s clinic and demand they see my daughter now, or give her the agency to do this herself. This reminds me of a case we settled in 2018. Our client had been a passenger in a head-on collision. It was a messy accident, and she had to undergo multiple surgeries, recovery time in a rehab facility, and handicap accessibility arrangements had to be made in her home. Unfortunately, none of the insurance companies were taking responsibility for payment, and the rehab facility was preparing to release her from their care too soon.
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Worker’s compensation, health, and auto insurers were all refusing to pay for damages stemming
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