SUV Rollover Accident Confidential Settlement
Daniel James had seen enough strife and suffering to last him a lifetime, by the time he turned 17.
"I had walked through the gates of hell," he says.
And anyone who knows Daniel, knows that he does not exaggerate.
A native of Bor, Sudan, Daniel was taken away from his family as a little boy when civil war broke out in that country. At an age when most boys would be riding their bikes, playing with cars and fantasizing about becoming a ball player, little Daniel led a nomadic existence fearing for his life each and every day.
He spent 12 years being shoved around in the wilderness, forced into fighting a war he had no knowledge of. He was moved around from one refugee camp to another, from one country to another, huddled with strangers and hurt souls. He spent those years away from his parents, three sisters and a brother, not knowing where they were or if they were dead or alive.
Daniel himself was in physical and emotional pain. Many times, he would go without food for a whole week. Some days there would be no water. Bombs would go off without notice. He lived in a war. He was an unwilling child soldier.
"We just took it one day at a time, not knowing what would happen when," he said.
Thankfully there was relief when he was about 17 years old. The United States government intervened and rescued about 4,000 young men granting them amnesty and life in America as part of a special program. Daniel was one of those boys.
He started life afresh. He started finding out what a normal life felt like. He finished a GED program and after a semester in community college got a transfer to study mathematics at the University of San Diego.
"I was very happy," he said. "I thought my life was set now after all those years of turmoil."
Unfortunately, that was not meant to be.
In July 2004, in his sophomore year at USD, Daniel was driving a friend's 1998 Ford Explorer on the eastbound 8 Freeway in San Diego. The friend was riding in the front passenger seat. Daniel was making a lane change when he lost control of the Explorer. When trying to regain control of the car he turned the wheel too fast and it flipped over, right there in the middle of the freeway, without hitting a thing.
It was an all too common occurrence with the Explorer, a sport utility vehicle notorious for its involvement in rollover crashes and its lack of stability. According to government studies, certain models of Ford Explorers have the worst rollover records of any SUV and fourth highest rate of driver deaths.
This Ford Explorer rollover accident was tragic for Daniel. Although he was seat belted in when the Explorer rolled over, which probably saved his life; his hand went out the driver's side window and was caught between the Explorer and the roadway. The back of his left hand was completely "degloved."
This is a horrific injury where an extensive section of a person's skin is completely torn off the underlying tissue, cutting off blood supply to the area. Daniel doesn't remember much except for the mind-numbing pain. To see photos, you would not recognize what you are seeing as a person's arm and hand.
At first doctors wondered whether to amputate his left hand, but later decided to go with skin grafts. Daniel underwent more than seven surgeries over two years. Surgeons performed skin grafts by removing skin from his thighs and reattaching it to the back of his hand. They also performed bone grafts and reattached tendons that had been severed during the crash.
Daniel was referred to Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys from another lawyer in Illinois, he said.
"I had never dealt with a lawyer before," Daniel said. "I really didn't know what to expect." But if he had any expectations, John and Brian surpassed them in every possible way, he said. "They're just good people," he said. "I knew nothing about the law. They were very easy to deal with and helped me in every way. I'm very happy with what they did for me."
It took two years for the Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys team to win Daniels case. Daniel intends to use a part of the money to help him complete graduate school.
With Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys, he always felt respected as a client, Daniel said. "They are not only aggressive attorneys and thorough professionals, but they are also good human beings," he said.
His worst fear through the entire experience was that he would have to drop out of USD, Daniel said.
"I was undergoing all these surgeries and I was in pain all the time," he said. "I was popping painkillers every day. I didn't know if I would be able to make it."
But the will to succeed and the overwhelming need to return his life to some level of normalcy motivated him in a powerful way, Daniel said.
He still needs more surgeries to restore complete functioning of his left hand. But Daniel is thankful for small mercies. He is grateful that he is alive, can type with his good hand, that he can still sit down and complete his coursework.
Despite those hellish two years, Daniel is graduating this month from USD with a Bachelors Degree in mathematics and theology.
More than anything else, he is awaiting his much-anticipated reunion with his family. Daniel is leaving in June for Bor, where he will be reunited with his parents and four siblings. "I can't even imagine how emotional it's going to be or how I'm going to react to it," Daniel said. "It's been 16 years since I saw them."
He might then take a couple of months off just to relax and maybe write a book about his life and then return to continue graduate school.
If anything positive came out of the accident, it was the way it made him stronger than ever as a person, Daniel said.
"It was definitely another mountain to climb," he said. "But it didn't stop me from pursuing my graduation dream. I did it and I feel good about it."