3rd Place – Tristen Sharp

Tristan Sharp

On Wednesday evening, I met my mother at a local restaurant to eat dinner before heading off to church. Nothing was different, as my usual routine on Wednesday’s was always the same. After pulling into the church parking lot a little after 7:00 p.m., I placed my cell phone in hand and proceeded on to the crosswalk. As I looked both directions, I noticed a car approaching from my left. The car approaching stopped to make a left hand turn and I looked both ways one last time before proceeding into the intersection. I have no other memory of the chain of events that took place after that moment because I was struck by a car coming from the opposite direction. The injuries I sustained were critical with the most extreme being the injuries to my brain. My skull was removed in an attempt to save my life and I now lacked the memory to remember who I was. After extensive rehabilitation and re-learning many aspects of my life, I was now left with many unanswered questions. “ Did I not look both ways before I crossed that street? Was I not paying attention? How could he not see me?” The emotional toll of these unanswered questions would test me to the core. As I searched for answers to these very questions, the answers slowly came to light. Witnesses advised that I did look both ways, twice! My cell phone company verified that their was no activity on my cell phone. “ So, how did this happen?” My whole life was changed forever at age 16.

Some would say this is the story of a lifetime and a place where this story should end. However, it’s not. June 11th, 2017 was just another typical day. My friend and I had decided to go get ice cream at one of our favorite places. This is the moment where I have no memory of the chain of events that would occur next. A driver crossed the center median of the interstate and struck us head on with no warning. I was flown to a trauma center due to my injuries.

Upon waking up from another medically induced coma, I would now be labeled again as the girl with another Traumatic Brain Injury, two brain bleeds, a broken nose, and a fractured neck. As much as I tried to put my previous accident behind me, I am now undergoing rehabilitation to rebuild my life all over again. I could go on and on about all of the ways these two accidents have changed my life, but I choose not to dwell on these unfortunate circumstances and not let this world define me. Furthermore, I can only hope that one day the individuals that cause these tragic accidents will start understanding that they must live with the decisions and choices that they make, but more importantly, they further realize that I have to live with their decisions too.

Distracted driving causes numerous accidents, injuries and oftentimes fatalities throughout the world. Families lives are turned upside down and some never get the chance to return back to the life they previously lived. We, as a society must stop operating under a mindset that “ This will never happen to me.”, or “ It doesn’t hurt anything.” Law enforcement must become more proactive against cell phone use while driving and our criminal justice system must start imposing stiffer penalties for distracted driving in general.

While I may not have been the driver involved in either accident, I am still a driver myself. I owe an equal obligation to everyone around me, that I, myself, do my best to insure the safety of others. It is extremely important to have discussions with your friends and family about the effects of distracted driving and ways to reduce the accidents caused by this. I have created a Distracted Driving Plan for other individuals to use in discussions with their family in hopes of protecting the loved ones of others.

Oftentimes, we as individuals get so hung up in our busy lives that time gets away from us. We find ourselves thinking about multiple things while we are heading somewhere else. Little thought is given to the devastation that is caused by distracted driving. As a person living with the injuries sustained in an auto accident, I can assure you that the struggles I have had to overcome has been life changing. In a split second, you can easily become a victim, or a defendant.

Distracted Driving Plan

  • We will not operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner.
  • We will obey all driving laws in the manner in which they are implemented for.
  • We will further educate our friends and family about the effects of distracted driving.
  • We will always look twice, and cross once to ensure our safety and the safety of others while operating a vehicle or as a pedestrian.
  • We will not talk or text on a cell phone while driving.
  • We will pay attention to our surroundings.
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Featured FAQ

How do I get the most money for my case?

Evidence is essential in order to get top dollar for an injury case. This means there must be proof of who was at fault for the accident and that the accident caused your injuries. Police reports and witness statements go a long way to proving fault while detailed medical records from qualified doctors (many times orthopedics or neurologists) are used to show the cause and extent of the injuries. We work to build a solid case in order to seek maximum compensation for our clients’ injuries.

Is there a benefit to being represented by a lawyer?

Most of the time in an accident injury situation, an insurance company will be your opponent. Insurance companies are very skilled at denying or minimizing injury claims – that’s how they make money. Insurance adjusters regularly deny claims that should be paid, or they offer only a small percent of the fair value of a claim. Our goal is the opposite. We develop a settlement package presenting our client’s case that often can result in our client receiving 10 to 20 times more compensation than what the insurance adjusters might offer for their injury claim. In such case, even after legal fees, our clients can net more money in their pocket. Even better, we work on a completely contingent basis, so there are no legal fees unless we are successful in collecting compensation for our clients.

Should I talk to the insurance company?

Do not talk to anyone at the insurance company. This includes their insurance adjusters and defense lawyers. Insurance companies frequently record phone conversations during which they ask leading questions designed to produce testimony that they can use to deny your case. If we are your lawyers, we will do the talking for you so you do not fall into the insurance company traps that are designed to decrease the value of your claim.

How do I pay my medical bills?

Medical bills can be paid through various manners such as health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, Personal Injury Protection insurance funds, deferred billing, and letters of protection. Depending on all of the facts surrounding your case and the insurance companies involved, we produce a strategy that we believe will best benefit our clients. Also, even if our clients do not have access to health insurance, we can assist them with getting medical care that is paid at the end of the case – which means no upfront medical bills.

How do I collect my lost income?

Even if an injured person is not able to work after an accident, insurance company tactics are to disagree and assert that the person could work so the insurance companies can deny the claim for lost income. It is important to have a qualified doctor’s medical documentation that proves the inability to work for a certain period of time due to an injury. We work with our clients’ doctors and employers to prove the medical reason for not working and the calculation of lost earnings. This frequently results in a fight with the insurance company, but we believe that with solid evidence we are ultimately able to win the fight and collect our clients’ lost income.