Jerry was on just another fun duck hunting trip when the accident happened. Since then he has learned much about himself and and has a happier life- all as a result of losing his foot.
Alan: Welcome back I’m here today which here today with Jerry Carroll, he is a partner at Burnham and Brown. Jerry welcome to today’s show.
Jerry: Thank you Alan, it's nice to be here.
Alan: So Jerry, for the listeners can give some background your education your career choices- what led you to where you are today?
Jerry: Sure I'm a California native, was born in southern California but really grew up in the Central Valley and Fresno and Roseville areas. From a big family we. Did a lot of outdoor activities hunting camping fishing hiking all sorts of the a very sports oriented family. I went to Cal State Sacramento, got my English degree with honors. And then I moved to the bay area to go to law school at Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley's law school. Once I came to the bay area I fell in love with it. I knew that I was never going to go back to the Central Valley as much as I loved it I loved the bay area more and so after I graduated from law school I went to work for a law firm called Long and Levitt in San Francisco. Worked with a group bunch of great lawyers great trial lawyers there. And then in 1996 are Michael Hartmann who had been a partner at Long and Levitt as well. Left the firm and asked me if I would like to go with him and so I waited a few months I just bought a house and didn't feel I could move right then. Went out with him and we formed Hartmann and Carroll which lasted for 20 years and then recently last year I decided to make a move into close Hartman and Carroll and go to Burnham and Brown. It has turned out to be a wonderful move it's like going into a big extended family they're are great firm they offer me a lot of support, and it's it's it's been a really fun move.
Alan: And so did you always know you were going to do law? I mean what what was the inspiration to say that I want to go be an attorney?
Jerry: I was kind of weird, I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer when I was about 11 years old in the fifth or sixth grade we had a mock trial and I will do the teacher thought that I would be a good lawyer and asked me to be the defense lawyer. We ended up doing this mock trial for our class and then for the entire school, I ended up doing it 3 times and all 3 times I got the accused acquitted even though as it turned out which I didn't know he'd actually done the crime.
Alan: Long and Levitt, when you were practicing there, did you have a certain specialty?
Jerry: Long and Levitt's specialty is professional malpractice, and defending other lawyers especially and I found that to be really fascinating because not only did I have to learn the laws of legal malpractice but I had to learn whatever underlying law was involved in the case so it gave me a broad exposure to lots of different areas of the law from probate to family law to torts, to contracts to securities because I would have to learn about each of those to defend the lawyers that I was working for.
Alan: And when you were at working Burnham Brown did you carry that over, did you change up the specialty at all?
Jerry: Certainly with Burnham and Brown I've done less professional liability, but that intervening 20 years with Hartman and Carroll it's really kind of what form the practice that I have today. It's specializing in construction law. I represent contractors developers, subcontractors anybody involved in the construction of a building item and I represent them whether it's from the sense that the the building has a problem or if someone is injured on the workplace so all types of construction law that's probably about half of my work and then a broad range of general litigation and everything from wrongful death to catastrophic injuries paraplegics quadriplegics and then a small section of my business is also advising small businesses such as construction companies, wineries, different small businesses advising them about insurance about leases about any other types of agreements they might have.
Alan: You know in in the construction industry obviously this is a big area. California's really hot on- are they employees verses [contractors]? How would you advise a person coming to you, 'Jerry what do I need to watch out for when I set up my relationships?
Jerry: The biggest thing I tell contractors is to pay attention to the little hairs on the back of their neck when they're meeting a client for the first time. If the client doesn't seem right, as long as the person is in a position to be able to choose what business they take, they should pay attention to that little voice in the back of their head that says, 'hey I don't know about this person.' I see it so many times where a person comes to me that's in a lawsuit and says you know when I first started I had this feeling about that person and people should pay attention that feeling.
Alan: Well that's good advice, so Jerry I need to take a quick break and when we get back after these messages I want to carry on with your story and something really big happened within the last year and I'd liked you to explain what that is.
Alan: Okay we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back, I'm visiting here day with Jerry Carroll, he's an attorney with Burnham and Brown up in Oakland and Jerry the last segment we talked about your career as a successful attorney, started your own firm for 20 years and then several months ago something something big happened, a life changing event and for our listeners can you tell the story of what happened in your life?
Jerry: Sure it was January 20th of 2016, I've been a duck hunter for 40 some years. My entire family has hunted. And I was duck hunting and I got in a situation where I was looking for a duck that I had shot and I was in a pond near a big patch of tulles. And I found the duck that I was looking for, and as I stood up, everything was wet and my gun slipped out of my hand. And I tried to grab it which was- as I later learned a foolish thing to do- I should have just let it go, but as I tried to grab it, I pushed the barrel down and it went into the water. And just as the barrel came in contact with my boot, some tulles sticking up out of the water hit the trigger. And are there was an explosion of sound and pain in my foot and. I spent the next 2.5 hours in that. Pond with a tourniquet on holding a tourniquet on my leg laying on my back in the tulles trying to keep my leg up because there was quite a bit of blood that was coming out of my boot.
Alan: Where you with anybody at the time?
Jerry: I was hunting with my brother Jeff who was about 50 to 75 yards away. He came over as fast as he could, helped me get on my back, helped me get a tourniquet on my leg. And then he was on the phone with 911. It took 911- because of where we were in the middle of nowhere no mapped roads- it took 911 2.5 hours to get to me and during that time I lost 5 of the 10 pints of blood that are in my body. When they finally got me out of the pond and into an ambulance, they cut my boot off and all the pellets came clattering out. The EMT looked out at it and swore very colorfully and that made me think how bad must this be if somebody who deals with this kind of thing every day is looking at that. So they got me off the pavement and to a waiting helicopter, took me to trauma hospital. I was laid on the table and I counted 16 nurses and doctors descended on my body, cut everything off it was just beeping monitors and cold metal and a lot of organized chaos. the surgeon then bent down and said that I was going to live, but that when I woke up I may not have my left foot. And that was the first time throughout the ordeal that it occurred to me that I might lose my foot. I woke up several hours later in the hospital and look down with relief to see that I still had my foot. But that relief was short lived, over the next several days I had several surgeries. And they decided that it was going to be difficult to save the foot but they offered me a choice. And ultimately I chose to cut it off. The alternative was up to a dozen surgeries over 3 years, continued pain, continued problems, and I just decided it was better to cut it off. I had some very good advisors, help, friends and my brother who is a doctor. And everyone said that the the best outcomes usually come from amputation So I elected to amputate my left foot.
Alan: Was that the silver lining that when you had the accident your brother was with you as a doctor?
Jerry: I have 3 brothers and the brother that was with me was not a doctor.
Alan: Okay so obviously it's impact your life-
Alan: -significantly and overnight within that event, life suddenly changed and Jerry we're running up against a break here, but I'd like to get back in terms of life's experience. What have you learned what have you you done differently than you did before when we get back after these messages. Visiting here today with Jerry Carroll as attorney at law with Burnham and Brown and he has a very unique unique life story and we'll be with you right after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I'm visiting here today with Jerry Carroll, attorney at law with Burnham and Brown, and Jerry, in the last thing segment we talked about the hunting accident that happened roughly about a year ago where in you you lost your leg. What's the biggest takeaway that has been in your life since losing you leg?
Jerry: Probably. How quickly everything can change in life. We hear a lot of cliches about seizing the day and never knowing what life can bring, but this ordeal has really brought that home to me. I am trying to focus much more on what's important to me and what makes me happy and what's the best thing for myself and for my family. But the other thing that say that I've taken away is the strength and courage that I got from all of my friends and family. I have heard that sometimes you have to die to see and hear how much people love you at your funeral. I'm lucky that I got to experience that in person while I was alive. I would not be here if it weren't for support and love and generosity that so many of my friends and family showed.
Alan: You had a lot of time in the in the hospital recovery, approximately, how long was that?
Jerry: I was in the hospital for 10 days and then I was pretty much confined to bed except to go to the bathroom for 2 months. And then slowly I started to. I'm. To go out on crutches with a walker I eventually got my prosthetic leg in April and then began learning to walk again which has been quite an ordeal.
Alan: How has this experience positively impacted your life when there's so much negative around it.
Jerry: So it's funny and more recently in the last several weeks I have talked to people about how I've lost my leg, but if I look at everything else in my life, I'm actually right now in a happier place than I was before the accident which sounds amazing to say that you could lose a leg and feel that way but I'm in a better place professionally which has led to more happiness at home, I really believe that that in a lot of ways my life is better. My marriage is stronger, what my wife has shown me during this ordeal really made me appreciate her and when you get further along in in in your marriage, sometimes you start to take things for granted and what she's shown me in the last year has has been tremendous.
Alan: Have you learned more about yourself?
Jerry: I have I have. I have learned that I can overcome most anything. I never dreamed that I would have to deal with something like this in my life, I have always tried to be a glass half full person, but this was challenging. There were times and there are still times when I get depressed, but there are times when I realize how lucky I am to be here. I could very easily not be here at all. And that is what has driven me to overcome the problems that I faced and so my own strength has surprised me at times.
Alan: It's interesting how is sometimes this adversity helps us get deeper understanding.
Alan: What advice would you have for people in life after going through what you went through? What advice would you have for others as they're looking at adversity in their own life?
Jerry: I think it's important to tackle those problems and to look at them and say, 'what kind of a problem is this?' Is it a personal problem? Is it something that I can resolve by myself, do I need help, and not being afraid to ask friends and family for help. That sense of community is really what can build us and take us through times. I was a very independent person. My wife thinks I was the most independent person in the world and the fact that this happened to me and forced me to accept love and support and the help of other people was really difficult for me to do, but I've learned that that's the whole point of why we're here I think, to be apart of the community and to help one another and there's there's no way you can get through life by yourself.
Alan: I'm visiting here today with Jerry Carroll for those of you who just tuned in, Jerry's been telling about the hunting accident that he had a year ago and how that's changed his life, his leg being amputated, and it's been 180 degree turn of perspective. So Jerry if you could be remembered for just one thing in life, what would that be?
Jerry: My generosity and my willingness to help other people.
Alan: So you have more of a life of service?
Jerry: What I found in love from my community of friends and family is what I hope that I'm remembered for by them.
Alan: Jerry I really appreciate all of the great insight of you telling the story here today and for being on today's show.
Jerry: Thank you Alan it was a pleasure. We've been busy here today with Jerry Carroll attorney at Burnham and Brown, and we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back, over the break Jerry and I were visiting and it was a very emotional and traumatic event that he went through with the hunting accident this last year but one thing that we didn't cover is why did you move out from owning your own firm with a partner to joining with a large organization and how did that whole transition play through?
Jerry: I was laying in bed literally I'm wondering how I could simplify my life and owning a small business it is not a simple thing. My partner had semi retired a few years earlier he was still working with me but he had decided that he was going to retire in 2016 and in fact it was going to do so right about the time my accident happened. Being the partner, but much more than a partner, he's a friend he's become by a dear friend. He unretired and came back and ran the firm while I was in bed, but I'm while I was laying in bed wondering how it was going to simplify my life, literally the phone rang and it was a recruiter who said that he had a law firm who might be interested in a lawyer with trial skills and a book of business which is me and so we talked for awhile and he said. After we talk that he thought that there might be other firms that might interested in me. So he ended up marketing me to several firms, as it turned out, I got to Burnham and Brown simply because I knew somebody there and had to happen to run into them. And so I started talking to them as well I had offers from San Francisco firms but I ultimately decided I did not want to commute into San Francisco. Burnham and Brown was a firm that I had known from my early days, very well respected, as it turns out a very old firm I'm dating back to 1895. So I met with them, it was a great feeling from the very beginning and I ended up signing with them and it's been one of the best decisions of my life.
Alan: What things have you gone through in the transition from the small to the big firm.
Jerry: Certainly having to to ask permission to do things, things that I used to automatically do on my own I now have to talk to people about and make sure that everyone's okay with it. That's been one of the the more difficult things, realizing that I can't just do anything on my own. But the support that they give me is well worth that trade off.
Alan: What about your partner, did he come with you or did he move a different direction?
Jerry: So he had to postponed his retirement to take care of the firm while I was in bed, once I was able to come back to work in about June or July of last year he finally sailed off into the sunset and and is very happy now.
Alan: On a weekly basis did you cut back the hours so you could do different things? What are you doing differently now?
Jerry: The hours were about the same, what's nice is that I only have a 10-minute drive to work instead of commuting into San Francisco and so that's given me 2 to 3 hours a day back of my life and so I try to use that time to- I have lots of therapies that I'm still doing, physical therapy, I also see a psychologist recommended by the doctors anytime you lose a limb. And then I have doctor appointments so it gives me time to do those sorts of things, it also gives me time frankly to rest because there are days when by the time I get home, I'm exhausted.
Alan: Well Jerry it's been an amazing year, from the standpoint of life changing experiences, getting a different perspective and we appreciate you coming on today's show to visit with us.
Jerry: Thank you Alan it's been it's been a great pleasure.
Alan: We've been visiting with Jerry Carroll, a partner with Burnham and Brown and thanks for being with us this week on American Dreams and join us next week right here on this station.