By David Peel
As an injury lawyer I deal with insurance companies in terms of accident cases. Many times these cases wind up going through a process known as mediation. Mediation is based on the idea that another person who does not have a dog in the fight might help parties see where they agree and disagree and move them toward resolution. As a trained mediator myself, I think I can say that we put too much faith in our ability as a mediator. I think the main role of mediation is to get the insurance company to take the case seriously enough to have a claims adjuster and an attorney focus on it and put all their best offers on the table. It’s been my intent to get more than they intended to bring if I can If–and only if–that will resolve the case fairly. When they offer enough money that you cannot turn it down and go to trial, then they know they’re successful. Some people call this the “sweat factor”. That is the place where you will begin to sweat if you turn down that money and then later on fear that you’ve made a mistake, especially if the jury comes back with a frown at your client instead of a smile.
Now if we do not resolve it either at mediation or pretrial, he goes before a jury of 12 in the state of Tennessee. And we must get the entire jury to agree. Even one hold out can blow up any kind of resolution. In a sense it is out of our hands at that point. So instead of being decided BY us it is decided FOR us.
I don’t know about you, but I like to control what I can control. So therefore it is always a nerve-racking experience to have other people decide something for us. Often times it comes out nicely, but it is still a scary experience especially for the client. And it got me to thinking where else in life do we willingly allow somebody to decide something for us instead of allowing something to be decided by us.
The one that’s on my mind today is the fact that some decisions that were made in the mid-1800s put the Peel family squarely in West Tennessee.
As I recall, a James Peel made it about as far as the Mount Vernon area in northeastern Shelby County and died there at the tender age of 34, but not before having children. It is from those children that I and my descendants derive.
I wonder what only took him as far as West Tennessee? At that time crossing the river was pretty hazardous. If you made it to the other side of Arkansas at Fort Smith there was massive Indian Territory beyond that. However, people had already been passing through that area on the way to California in the great gold rush. For whatever reason that wasn’t in the cards for him. He settled here and his son gave birth to children that gave eventually gave birth to me.
And I was born here in West Tennessee. My family moved around a little bit as my father finished up his education and fellowships, and we landed in southern Arkansas when I was five. Again, not my decision. Finally at 18 I got choose where I wanted to college and I attended University of Arkansas at Fayetteville on scholarship.
I really enjoyed my time up there as well as the work that I did, but wound up taking a position that put me back in West Tennessee. I then got to know my four wonderful grandparents much better. (I only have one of them left as I write this.) I got to be closer to my uncles and a bunch of cousins and have been blessed as a result of that decision. I feel that the Lord was in that and that the Lord took me to law school here.
But several of my friends have recently moved to Nashville. You may not know it, but Nashville is going through a Renaissance. They are expecting to grow by one million people in the next 10 to 12 years. They are looking at having to have a light rail system to bring people in from Murfreesboro and Clarksville that surround Nashville because the traffic has gotten so bad.
And granted, the area is beautiful and the people are very nice, the public schools are outstanding and businesses are actually building. House prices up there are skyrocketing. I know a fellow that had a house up there that he intended to live in but ultimately it didn’t work out and he sold it two years later and made $100,000. So it is an interesting thing. Some people think it is Atlanta 20 years ago in terms of growth.
So the question becomes, well why doesn’t everybody just move to Nashville? There’s a lot in that question. Not all folks can afford to move. But even if you’ve set money aside, and seek only maybe an improved quality of life, or better job opportunities, there is still a cost to cutting ties with what you regard as your home.
I guess it’s called “putting down roots.” There just seems to be a pull here that goes back a long way for me.
But if you set any financial interest aside, where would you live? A lot of people say that they would live at the beach. The beach is great to visit and is certainly a fun, laid-back atmosphere. Some people would say they would live in the mountains. Again it’s beautiful and very relaxing.
And it’s not that I haven’t seen other places. I’ve visited every inhabited continent, and I’ve been in the vast majority of the states of our country. But in a sense, I kind of think that you miss the specialness of places if you see them every day. As an example, there are people who flock to Memphis every year to visit Graceland. I’ve never even visited it. I’m not against it. I like Elvis. But like most locals, I have not been there. And it’s the same way if you live in Hawaii. The people there do not go to the beach near as often as you think they would. I have lived in the mountains and I can tell you that they’re beautiful, but after a while it just wears out your brakes and is irritating on icy days.
That being said, all my buddies who moved to Nashville just love it. They love the environment, the energy, the arts, culture and the feeling of wholesomeness. And I don’t feel a lot of that around here.
In my life, decision after decision has been made for me. Where I live now is really a decision made by me.
What about you? Why are you where you are? We may be in far more control than we realize.
Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.
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