Texas: Consumer Tells Legislative Committee Legal Funding is a “Much Needed Service”

Joe Williams testified today before the Texas House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee. He lives in Cypress, Texas. This is the text of what he told legislators.

Good afternoon, my name is Joseph Williams. Over here is my wife Laurie Williams and my step-son David Godbold. Our lives changed forever on November 15, 2013.

That morning, Laurie and I were waiting our turn to pay our toll on Beltway 8 in Houston when our car was demolished by an out of control garbage truck.

While my injuries put me in wheelchair for a few weeks, Laurie’s injuries were more severe causing permanent and irreversible impairment. Laurie suffered broken bones, a collapsed lung and most devastating was her severe traumatic brain injury. Laurie has undergone 7 surgical procedures to save her life – had her skull cap removed and replaced.

For 7 ½ months, Laurie was in Memorial Hermann, then TIRR, then Touchstone Neurorecovery Center where she re-learned to walk, talk and the basics we all take for granted.
Laurie’s past medical providers have billed over $2 million dollars. Her future life care plan exceeds $6 million – that’s present day value. She has suffered a total loss of the ability to earn a living going forward. She will never be able to drive a car, work or be left at home alone again.

We aren’t financially wealthy people, but we are wealthy in our love and commitment to each other. I am a deputy Constable with Harris County Constable’s Precinct 4. You all may not realize this, but police officers don’t make a whole lot of money. Before this nightmare, our monthly budget relied on my ability to work extra jobs to make ends meet. After taxes, I brought home around $4,000 per month from extra jobs.

Since Laurie came home last summer, I cannot work my extra jobs because I have to take care of her. We have lost more than $50,000 in income since the wreck. We are 18 months post-collision and have a trial date in the summer of 2015.

Without the legal funding we got last year, we would not have made it financially because of the lost income. The costs of the legal funding were clearly disclosed to us at the outset and we are agreeable to them. We don’t have family and friends who we could borrow that kind of money from. When you make less than $50,000 a bank doesn’t extend you credit for much – especially when you need it for losing income.

We have made every penny we got in Legal Funding work for us to meet our basic living needs. It helped alleviate stress in the most stressful time of our lives. I took off work to be here today because it is important for our legislature to know how devastating it would have been for us and other people like us if you eliminate or curtail the availability of this much needed service. This wreck physically and emotionally devastated us. We would have also been ruined financially without legal funding.

I appreciate you hearing our story and am happy to answer any questions you may have.