Letter of the Law: Admirable Advocacy


By Greg Bennett, utahvalley360.com

After the physical wounds healed, Spanish Fork accident victim used attorney Jeff Metler to heal financial scars


Kelli Branam of Spanish Fork never thought she’d have to worry about calling a personal injury attorney. As a young, motivated, single, hard-working woman, she was used to taking care of herself.

However, on her way to Wendover, Nev., she was thrown from the car in which she was a passenger. Her body hit I-80, and the hard asphalt degloved the skin off her left thigh, broke her tibia and fibula, and ripped the skin from her right forearm.

She was flown by helicopter to University Hospital in Salt Lake City, where she remained for 2½ months.

When she left the hospital, she had about a $500,000 lien for her medical bills, despite being injured in a car that was insured, having extra under-insured insurance on her own policy and having health insurance.

That’s when she called attorney Jeff Metler. We asked Kelli for details on her experience.

What were some of the physical challenges associated with your injuries?

After the initial stay in the hospital — where I had to have a number of procedures, including skin grafts — my right outer thigh had gone necrotic from my knee up to my hip. Then, that area went necrotic again and I had to have wound VAC (vacuum assisted closure) treatment for a couple of months. I couldn’t bathe and my wound care was still taking about two hours a day, and this was 3½ months after the accident.

I was also really weak and had to move in with my grandma, who remodeled her bathroom to make it accessible to wheelchairs.

What about the emotional and financial concerns?

I was an emotional wreck. I had always been independent and had always worked hard. I’d been working and going to school. After the accident, I was stuck in bed. I lost my full-time job because of the injury, and I was having problems getting state unemployment because they said I should be getting disability. However, I was denied disability because they said I wasn’t disabled. I owed all this money for something I didn’t have any control over. It was really terrible.

Why did you call Jeff Metler’s office?

I used to work in a chiropractor’s office, so I was familiar with Jeff before the accident. I already knew if I needed to hire an attorney it would be Jeff. I called because I knew I needed help in getting my medical bills paid by the insurance company.

What did Jeff’s office do for you emotionally?

Jeff took time to educate me on what to expect emotionally and financially. I got to the point where I was getting calls all the time from creditors asking for a $200,000 payment. That gets overwhelming. I started referring them to Jeff’s office, and they would handle those concerns for me. Eventually, I didn’t get any of those calls. It was great to know experts were helping me along the way.

 Did you have any reservations about getting an attorney involved?

I had no intention of using an attorney. The thought never crossed my mind. But when I got out of the hospital and saw the lien, I knew I needed to get an attorney.

How have things worked out for you?

My goal, at first, was to just get enough money to get my medical bills paid for. Jeff’s office helped me settle to where I got my medical bills paid for, but also got some for lost pay and other financial hardships that have come as a result of the accident.

Greg Bennett

Greg Bennett is an editor and writer with Bennett Communications. His primary responsibilities are with Utah Valley Magazine and the company's custom publications division. He's the father of four children and has been married to his wife, Adria, for 19 years. Contact Greg at greg.utahvalley360@gmail.com.

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