An article recently published in the Sacramento Bee reinforces an oft-forgotten aspect of serious injuries: it’s not just the initial pain and suffering of a crippling or disfiguring injury that throws your life into turmoil. The true cost can only be measured in the long term.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, author Thomas Leibrandt’s article “What’s Life Like With One Eye” reflects on his own life altering injury as a teenager, while also discussing the recent freak accident that cost Phillies minor league pitcher Matt Imhof his right eye.

On June 30th, Matt Imhof posted on Instagram, describing the severity of his injury and how it happened. Source: Instagram

On June 30th, Matt Imhof posted on Instagram, describing the severity of his injury and how it happened. Source: Instagram

How a momentary mishap can change a lifetime.

Imhof was working out in an exercise room when an elastic band broke on the exercise equipment he was using, causing part of it to strike Imhof in the face, breaking several bones and crushing his eye.

Imhof is only just starting to recover from his injury, but Leibrandt knows all too well how such an injury forever changes day to day life.

Nearly 50 years ago, Leibrandt was practicing with his college drill team when the end of a guidon—the flags that some military company members carry—struck Leibrandt’s eyeball, cleaving it in half all the way back to the optic nerve. A two week hospital stay left him with a stitched together eye that was so unpleasant to look at that he chose to wear an eyepatch over it when he left the hospital, and has continued to do since the accident in 1967.

Whatever Leibrandt’s original career plans were, his experience with a military draft board made it clear that some options would be forever out of reach. A disinterested corpsman had Leibrandt take a vision test, only realizing something was amiss when he ordered Leibrandt to cover his left eye—his good one—and read the chart, compelling Leibrandt to respond, “What chart?” Suffice to say, he wasn’t drafted.

Society isn’t known for its tactfulness when faced with disfigurement.

Having a disfiguring injury invites commentary, both demeaning and humorous. Pirate jokes are an annoyance that have never gone away for Leibrandt. And more than one mother has used him as an object lesson for their child, pointing at his face and saying, “See what happens when you’re not careful with sharp objects?”

Thankfully, these are at least partially balanced by the kinder, more innocent attention that children show. When Leibrandt gives a staring child a wink, once in a while one will look back at him with one eye closed, and offer him a warm smile.

Serious injuries change your life forever. But they don’t bring your life to an end.

Leibrandt’s life was permanently changed when he was injured. But he persevered. He graduated from college and graduate school, became a writer and editor, and has—ironically—worked at a teaching hospital in Pennsylvania for more than 30 years.

When our firm works with a client who has suffered a serious injury, especially one that has caused disfiguration or a loss of functionality, our first priority is to make sure that they get their health back as quickly as possible. The sooner that you can recover and reenter the world, the more quickly you can begin to regain your life. But sometimes overeager clients forget just how much their injuries cost them, the opportunities that have been forever lost. That’s why we were quick to remind them, as we investigate the opportunities to help them obtain financial compensation for their losses—money is an imperfect remedy, but it’s all we can offer—that they have lost something that they can’t get back, and thus they do deserve to be compensated.

And that money can be used to find a new path in life, to replace the old one that was closed. Baseball player Matt Imhof may never throw another baseball inside of a professional ballpark. So we hope that he gets the compensation he deserves, so that he can start a new chapter in his life, with the financial resources necessary to accomplish whatever dreams he might be conceiving, as he begins the long road to recovery.