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John Singleton: “I’ve been there, just like other accident victims”

By Beth Gibson on February 26, 2018

The story below is also shared in the book, 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Virginia Auto Accident Case, by attorneys Ken Gibson and John Singleton. The attorneys wrote this book so that their Virginia neighbors don’t have to go through the same horrible experiences they did after their accidents.

We recently sat down with John and asked him to share his story again with us.

How did your story begin?

JS: Like Ken, I was also hit by a drunk driver—but I wasn’t driving. The last thing I remember was sitting in the back seat, on the passenger side. From what I’ve been told, we were crossing a four-way intersection when a drunk driver ran a red light and T-boned us.

Apparently, I was quite aggressive toward the paramedics when they were trying to treat me. I have no memory of this. I woke up briefly on a gurney in the hospital, then everything went blank again.

What happened next?

I awoke next when I was being slid into an MRI machine. Suddenly I couldn’t breathe. My lungs had collapsed. When I finally regained consciousness, I had a tube down my throat and tubes inserted into each side of my chest. It was very painful.

Every night in the hospital, the tubes in my lungs would begin to fill with fluid, and I would start suffocating. I would press the call button repeatedly, until a nurse finally came and cleaned out the tubes.

My sister and parents were there, but the only way to communicate with them was by writing notes.

I was in the ICU for two weeks. Then they put me in a wheelchair and loaded me into my sister’s rental car. For the next month, I had to try to sleep sitting up. Otherwise my lungs would fill with fluid, and I couldn’t breathe.

What was the extent of your injuries?

JS: I had six broken ribs on my right side, and three on my left. Lost 75 percent of my lung capacity. I found out later that most people die from similar injuries because broken ribs can lacerate your aorta.

How was your rehabilitation?

JS: It was long, slow, and painful—and I was on my own.

I asked my pulmonologist what I should be doing for rehab, and he just said, “Do what you think.”

I missed two months of law school, and was in almost constant pain. Bending, sneezing, laughing were like being stabbed in the side.

Eight months after the accident, I could barely swim the length of a pool. My ability to perform most physical activities was hindered by my lack of lung power. In reality, it was years before my injuries stopped having a major effect on my life.

Looking back, what did your experience teach you?

JS: That the impact of a serious injury goes beyond the physical. Looking back, I’m grateful that my injuries didn’t affect my life more than they did. I could’ve dropped out of law school. Or become addicted to painkillers.

For a year after the accident, driving was an ordeal. I took the concept of defensive driving to the extreme. Every time I got behind the wheel, I was filled with anxiety.

Insurance took care of most of the medical expenses, but it did nothing for the physical pain, mental trauma, and the months of my life that the drunk driver took away.

What’s your advice to anyone injured in a car crash?

JS: Contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible. If you’re like I was, and unable to pick up a phone, have a family member call. When there’s a question about liability, time is important. Evidence begins to disappear, and memories start to fade. A good attorney can build your case while you concentrate on recovering.

Editor’s Note: For a free meeting with GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys about your car accident, call (804) 413-6777.

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Community service

Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
    GibsonSingleton launches a “Texts=Wrecks” campaign to reduce the number of people injured or killed by distracted drivers.
  • Annual Coat Drive
    During the fall, our team works to distribute coats to people in need in our community.
  • Hands-on Service
    John and Ken join the Gloucester Point Rotary Club in cleaning up the community.
  • Supporting Local Schools
    The Gibson family participates in Gloucester’s Botetourt Elementary Shuffle fundraiser.