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Helping People is What We Are All About

By: Attorney/Delegate Andrew D. Byrd 

"At the end of day, helping people is what we are all about." Those were the words I remember hearing years ago while watching television. Those words would always come at the end of a commercial by local attorney Bobby Warner, who is now my boss. I even found the commercial I remember seeing all the time on television years ago:

Before I started working for Bobby, when I would hear those words on the commercial, the following thought went through my head, "Well, obviously, Bobby Warner, your job is to help people who are injured." However, just after I completed my first full year at Warner Law Offices, I worked on a case where I truly understood the meaning of "At the end of day, helping people is what we are all about."

This past year, our firm had a case where a young man, younger than me, was severely injured on a natural gas drilling rig. The client's injuries were so severe it was unlikely he would return to work any time in the near future. Particularly, the client knew he would not be able to ever return to work on a natural gas drilling rig; earning enough to support his family.

When I first met this young man in person, he brought his wife and young child along with him. The number one thing he was worried about was taking care of his family. He advised us that his family was already behind on bills and he was concerned about losing their house and their vehicle. At this initial in-person meeting, we advised him the length of time it may take to litigate his case. At that moment, I saw a sense of hopelessness in the eyes of the client and his wife.

A few months went by in litigation and we were able to obtain a very favorable settlement for the client and his wife. The client and his wife knew we were in negotiations, but did not know the exact amount of the settlement. Bobby told me to give the client a call and request an in-person meeting. So I did.

When the client, his wife, and young child arrived at Warner Law Offices, the attorneys gathered around the table in the conference room with the client and his wife directly across from us. Bobby started to talk to them about how difficult their case was and how we hoped that they would be satisfied with the settlement we obtained for them. Bobby gave them a number. I looked at him and thought to myself "that's not what we settled the case for." I looked at the client and his wife and they were hugging each other and were so happy.

Then Bobby told them, "Actually, the number is a little higher." The client and his wife looked at Bobby with a dumbfounded facial expression and he gave them another number; this one higher. The client and his wife hugged each other again and I started to see emotions come over both of them. But again, I knew this was not the right number. Then Bobby looked at them again and told them, "Well, the number is actually higher than that." The client's jaw dropped to floor and his wife started getting tears in her eyes. Bobby wrote the final number of the settlement down on a piece of paper and pushed it toward the client and his wife across the table. I wish I could say this was the first time I had seen a grown man cry, but it wasn't.

The client and his wife continued to be emotional minute after minute. Finally, they hugged me and the other attorneys, continuously telling us how we had "helped them," how we had "changed their lives," how we had "touched their lives more so than any other person." I knew right then that it wasn't about the money, but that it was the comfort that came over them knowing everything was going to be all right. And that is when I truly knew what those words were all about:

"At the end of the day, helping people is what we are all about."

But the help did not stop there. Bobby spent several hours with the client and his wife explaining to them the importance of using the money for debts and investments to protect the family. Bobby suggested companies across the state that could advise them on debt reduction and investment opportunities to secure their future. Bobby wanted to make sure they understood the importance of this and to ensure we took care of the client until the end.

We are a little over a month into the year 2016. So ask yourself this question: How could I really make a difference in someone's life this year?

As a member of the West Virginia Legislature, it is a real eye-opener to hear from the hundreds of groups and organizations across the state that assist those in need and the hardships people are going through. Yet, anyone in the community can help. For example, we recently saw the news articles regarding "Tent City" in Charleston, West Virginia - a small community along the Elk River made of tents and tarps where people live. Members of the community stepped up to provide help to the individuals of that community who were displaced.

Remember, for some individuals, their day is spent trying to find food and heat, a job and clothes. For others, it's clothes and toys for their children. Remember, the difference you decide to make does not have to be monetary. It can be about donating your time to local food banks, charities, homeless shelters or animal shelters.

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As we all know, there are people, charitable organizations and groups who are in need. I have challenged myself this year to make a difference. So whatever the answer to the above question is for you, at the end of the day, we all should be about helping people throughout the year!

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