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Mark Bello
Mark Bello
Attorney • (877) 377-7848

One Second is All it Takes

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I recently read this inspirational story I felt worthy to share with my readers.

On October 5, 2010 a young man was on his way to a work function in the Lansing area. Around 8:30am he was on the westbound lanes of I-96, an expressway near the Lansing, Michigan area, and was involved in a serious five-car collision. He was nearly stopped, going five miles per hour for an accident in front of him on the expressway, and a car rear-ended him at 80 miles per hour. He was then hit on the passenger side by another car going 70 miles per hour and then again from the rear. Original news reports stated that the 27-year-old was killed in the car accident. On the way to the hospital, he was revived three times. Later news updates reported that the man was revived in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, underwent emergency brain surgery, and was in a coma and in critical condition. So what was the driver doing who hit him at 80 miles per hour? TEXTING! They found the driver’s phone on the ground with an unfinished text message!

So what did the doctors tell the man’s family after the accident? They said he had sustained the worst brain injury or subdural hematoma that one could have, and that he had a two percent chance of making it and if he did, that he would be a complete “vegetable.” They also reported that in addition to being in a coma, he had a broken back, spleen removed, trach (tracheotomy) put in, crushed lung, broken ribs on his left side, blood clot in his left leg, a broken neck, stroke, kidney laceration, feeding tube, chest tube, paralyzed on the left side and brain seizures.

What happened to him after all this? Well, he did not die, and he is standing right in front of you talking to you!
The man’s name is Brandon La Forest and this was his presentation to students at Baker two years ago. Since that tragic day, Brandon had to relearn many basic skills we all take for granted, such as walking, talking, going to the bathroom on his own, and the ability to read and write. He said one of the biggest challenges in speech has been finding and spelling the right word. Due to severe hearing loss, he wears hearing aids. He still suffers short-term memory problems and chronic pain in his feet, legs and back. He has gotten behind the wheel again, but drives only with his mother or sister in the car with him because of his forgetfulness. On top of all this is the emotional damage. Adding to the stress has been interacting with the insurance company, which refused to pay for his hearing aids and cut off physical therapy. Here is a young man that had a promising future, but due to no fault of his own was left as destroyed as the Chrysler Sebring he was driving that day. He never asked for this, but with determination and will is making the most of every day. Wasn’t the devastating accident enough? Wasn’t his pain and suffering enough? Wasn’t the fight for his life? Now the insurance company is making him fight to hear? “It’s always something,” said Brandon’s mom. “A lot of the stress and anxiety comes from the insurance company. The stuff they put you through is horrible.”

While Brandon fights to regain complete independence; while Brandon fights the insurance company to do the right thing, what do you suppose happened to the texting driver? She was fined $523 and marked with a criminal record. Unbelievable! “Is this all my life amounts to, $523?” La Forest said.

Brandon has not only beaten the odds, but tries to prevent others from suffering the same or worse fate by campaigning against cell-phone used by drivers. He has created a website headsupphonesdown.com, and continues to tell his story. “If I can change one life, prevent one accident, prevent one death or head injury, it’s worth it,” he said. “One second is all that it takes.”

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.