Today’s news in Atlanta includes an article about a man who had 40 years of productive life after an injury that left him a quadriplegic paralyzed from the neck down. Charlie Miller had just graduated from high school when he was shot in 1970. When he was injured he had planned to go to college. Nineteen years later he graduated from Georgia State. He read voraciously, volunteered proofreading veterans’ applications for medical assistance, and became a hero to the Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s Disability Rights Project because he lived a full life in the community with quadriplegia for over 40 years.
In our law practice we have been inspired by the indomitable spirit of clients who survived catastrophic injuries resulting in paraplegia or quadriplegia due to spinal cord injury. One young woman who became a paraplegic in an accident finished her undergraduate and graduate degrees, taught school, participated in international mission projects, moved west on her own, became Ms. Wheelchair California, and now works with a medical equipment company. A high ranking federal law enforcement executive who was rendered a quadriplegic in an accident eagerly pursued an opportunity to teach college and resume writing books.
We see quadriplegic and paraplegic clients as survivors to be equipped for productive life rather than as victims to be pitied.
Ken Shigley is an Atlanta trial attorney who currently serves as president of the 42,000 member State Bar of Georgia.