From Foreword Reviews:
Five Stars (out of Five). This eye-opening and heartrending memoir prepares families for dealing with settlements and caregiving after difficult accidents.
On January 9, 2002, an 80,000-pound tanker truck crashed into the back of Marcia Rhodes’s stopped Toyota Corolla, leaving the young wife and mother paralyzed from the chest down and with multiple internal injuries. The truck driver was uninjured. Fourteen years in the making,
The Blameless Victim is Harold S. Rhodes’s raw and heart-wrenching account of the accident that almost killed his wife, and of the Rhodes family’s ten-year legal battle with Zurich American Insurance and American International Group (AIG) to force them to fulfill their financial obligations.
Rhodes gives an intimate, uncensored account of the intense suffering and humiliation his wife has had to endure as a result of her injuries, some illustrated with graphic photos; his own struggles to care for her; the depression and alienation of their daughter, who suddenly found herself deprived of her mother; and the family’s near financial ruin.
The volume also meticulously chronicles the five courtroom trials in which even the most private and intimate aspects of the family members’ lives were scrutinized by the defendant insurance carriers. Throughout, there is evidence of the family’s love, courage, and commitment, and of Rhodes’s determination to put an end to insurance companies delaying payment in order to pressure blameless victims and their financially stressed families into an insufficient financial settlement.
The cover art effectively portrays the feelings of powerlessness and aloneness experienced by victims confronting the legal system. The writing is clear and concise, the story is compelling, and Rhodes handles both the hard facts and the emotional aspects of his narrative with skill and care.
Meticulous footnotes clarify medical and legal issues; they also reveal the ways in which Rhodes found himself unprepared, both medically and emotionally, to be his wife’s primary caregiver. Ample resources for caregivers and those struggling to navigate the legal system are provided in the text, the footnotes, and an associated website and blog.
The Blameless Victim is an eye-opener. Rhodes reveals that while civil courts and the legal system are supposed to guard the public against injustices committed by insurance companies and ensure that they fulfill their financial obligations promptly, they are confusing, slow, expensive, invasive of a victim’s privacy, and often side with the insurance company. His concern that others not suffer as his family did has made him a vigilant fighter for justice, and his book provides resources for the fight.
Harold Rhodes holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a former business consultant for both emerging and large high-tech companies.He continues to be the primary caregiver for his wife and is an active participant in the work of the Greater Boston Chapter of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association and other organizations that work with and advocate on behalf of the disabled and disadvantaged.
From Kirkus Reviews:
A heart-rending debut nonfiction account of a couple’s struggles with insurance companies as they tried to recover from a catastrophic accident.
In January 2002, a massive tanker-trailer hit Marcia Rhodes’ car from behind, and she suffered a welter of crippling injuries, including irreparable spinal cord damage that left her a paraplegic. Her husband, Harold, in this debut memoir, walks readers through their harrowing story, including the protracted aftermath of Marcia’s medical struggles, and the couple’s fight with two insurance companies that were reluctant to reach financial settlements.
As the book’s subtitle suggests, the author focuses on their tug-of war with these companies, and their indefatigable efforts to compel them to pay what they desperately needed to cover onerous medical costs. Rhodes’ depiction of insurance carriers’ cynical money-saving strategies serves as a grim reminder of how toxic the mix of commerce and health care can be. He also illustrates, with painstaking thoroughness, the judicial system’s lamentable limitations and the ballooning costs of health care. Additionally, the couple had to contend with a criminal trial against the driver of the truck, who was charged with negligence.
Still, the heart of the book concerns the couple’s battle to manage the emotional fallout of a transformative disaster. For example, after the author asked his wife to politely thank him for his caregiving efforts, he realized the depths of her depression: “She felt that given the way her life was, I was not being reasonable to have these expectations. She was utterly depressed, so just getting through the day was all I could expect. She was perfectly correct. I am not supposed to nag her; I am supposed to love her as she is.” The account of the legal contests can be excruciatingly detailed, and the book’s overall, chronological structure, which reads like a diary, can be exhausting.
Nevertheless, readers will find this a sad but inspiring story.
A moving memoir that’s particularly timely, given the current health care debate in the United States."