We often read headlines of big settlements and verdicts achieved for injured victims. Commercial ads on TV flash recovered amounts as if the person was glad he or she was injured. We seldom hear of the struggle our clients go through - the constant trips to the doctors, the injections, and the therapy are only a small part of it.
After attending the almost month-long Trial Lawyers College in Wyoming this past July, my quest for feeling my client's pain began. To dive into those depths, I had to to employ the psychodramatic techniques that I had learned.
But what is #psychodrama and how can it help?
In the words of my friend and law professor Dana Cole, "Psychodrama is a method that enhances empathy by permitting us to experience the facts vividly and to discover how those facts were experienced. Psychodrama allows us to find the true story—to discover important facets of our story that were previously overlooked."
For this case, I wanted to feel the relationship my client had with his baby boy, his newborn girl, his wife, his family members, friends, and colleagues, following the wreck. We worked for hours together recreating scenes that came to his mind and exploring the emotional content for why those scenes were significant.
The episodic memory that came to life was when he was in the delivery room, after his wife just gave birth to his baby boy, seventeen days after the drunk driver plowed into them. We lived it together, in the present tense. The following reenactment captured it all.
I am there in the hospital room, seeing him attempt to carry his son. The cyclone of emotions brings tears to his eyes. The longing to hold his son to his chest is interrupted by the thunderbolt of pain surging up his spine. I see him carefully sitting back down on the vinyl sofa, next to his wife's bed, waiting for her to fall asleep, so he can quietly tiptoe out of the room. Her eyes close, but the shame of leaving her side to check himself into the ER follows him. I see him laying on the hospital bed downstairs hoping that the doctor will hurry up, so that he can return to his wife's side to comfort her. The pain in his lower back has been overtaken by the heartbreak of failing his very first test as a father. My own chest tightens as I feel the pain too.
There can never be an understanding of an appropriate recovery, unless there is an understanding of what was taken. That is precisely my job: to show what was taken.
We are delighted to represent such deserving, confident and trusting clients and taking this particular client's case from a $60,000.00 initial offer to a $250,000.00 settlement. We hope you never need us, but if you're ever in a wreck, don't fight it alone. Thanks to the #TrialLawyersCollege staff and fellow attorneys of the July class of 2017 who helped me with this case.
Special thanks to Attorney John D. Hadden for his wisdom and co-counsel on this case.
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For more info on Psychodrama, see Psychodrama and the Training of Trial Lawyers: Finding the Story.
UPDATE: Trial Lawyers College recently posted this case as a Success Story; check out the full story here.