The Story of George White
It was a nice summer day in July 2016, and George and Kathey White were getting ready to leave for a weekend trip to the lake. Kathey was waiting for George to return home from the store when she received a call informing her that he had been in a car accident and she needed to go directly to the emergency room at the University of Alabama Medical Center (UAB). The news was dire when she arrived. George had been in a horrific head-on collision; the other driver had been distracted by her cell phone, had crossed the center line, and hit George head on. The accident had caused multiple serious injuries to George that would require quite a number of very difficult treatments and procedures. No one knew at that point whether George would live. Married for nearly 50 years, Kathey was utterly devastated.
The day after the accident Kathey was contacted by a lawyer friend advising her to contact Hughston Nichols at Hare Wynn. She recalls, “I remember how much I liked Hughston from the very first time I met him. He was straightforward and honest, and he made no promises regarding outcome. But when he told me he would do the best he could, I believed him. Without Hughston, and his assistant Andi, I don’t think I could have survived the next few weeks. They were so helpful and encouraging—not only with legal advice, but on a personal level as well. They knew what a difficult ordeal this was for us and they were committed to helping us in every way they could. It wasn’t just all business.”
As if George’s situation wasn’t traumatic and precarious enough, the driver who hit George was an uninsured motorist. So, the Whites made a claim for “Uninsured Motorist” benefits through their personal auto insurance carrier. They were covered, however, for only a fraction of their medical expenses. With their total hospital bill over $1 million; the amount they were personally responsible for would have bankrupted the couple.
Because Hughston had years of experience negotiating insurance issues just like this, he was able to negotiate with the White’s health insurance carriers for pennies on the dollar—paying back only $25,000 which was accepted as payment in full. George and Kathey knew they could not have gotten these results without Hughston. In Kathey’s words, “When Hughston told us he could negotiate that price down it literally blew me away because there was no way we could have paid that kind of hospital bill—it was astronomical. George had spent 42 days in Intensive Care and then 3 weeks in a rehab facility learning to walk again. If Hughston hadn’t helped us settle that…well, I don’t even want to think about where we’d be.”
Perhaps the greatest heartache for an attorney working with clients in challenging and traumatic circumstances, is not being able to give them everything they need—being constrained by what the legal and financial realities are. In this case, these realities were the amount of the White’s uninsured motorist coverage and the financial situation of the other driver. Hughston fully evaluated the case to see if they should go to court, but in the end determined it would be pointless, telling Kathey, “We could probably get a large judgment, but you would never see a penny of it. We would not be able to collect.” Kathey appreciated his honesty, “I needed Hughston to be very practical and truthful and that is exactly what he was. He was just great; he was great the whole time.”
For many months, George had been in a fight for his life—struggling to regain his health. Throughout that time, Kathey was deeply touched by Hughston’s sensitivity and kindness as they faced new and heartbreaking realities. She recalls a day in Hughston’s office when he explained to them that there was nothing more they could recover from the case:
“My husband got so emotional because there was no compensation as far as the work that he had missed and the income we had lost by him not being able to work. He literally just ripped his shirt open and with tears running down his face he said, ‘Look what this woman has done to me!’ Everyone could see that he had a scar running all the way down his chest. Hughston, Andi, and I were tearing up and then Hughston reached out and grabbed George’s hand and said, ‘I am truly sorry that I could not have done more for you.’
It was such a beautiful moment for it showed us his heart and his humanity. It meant so very much to us. Our lives had been devastated. It was touch and go for a very long time. Emotionally, physically, and financially it took quite a toll on us. There is no doubt in my mind, however, that he did the very best he could for us. Hughston handling the legal side of things allowed George time to not be stressed and just focus on recovery—which he has. It’s so hard when you’re in a situation like we were, and it helps so much when you have somebody who shows compassion. He was just so compassionate, and he wanted what was best for us—and I knew that from the first minute I spoke with him. I’m now a lifelong friend and follower.”
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