Kelley Brooks Simoneaux was born and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She grew up as an active child excelling in academics, sports, and dance. By the time she was 16 years old, she had traveled the country competing in tap dance competitions and was slated to spend the summer between her sophomore and junior years of high school in New York City training under world-renowned dance principles in a highly competitive tap dance summer intensive. But in one second the course of her life took a major turn.
On February 2, 2001, 16-year-old Kelley got in the back, middle seat of a classmate’s older SUV. She buckled her lap-belt only seatbelt, not realizing it would be the last time she would ever walk. Unfortunately, the driver failed to use reasonable care that evening, and while speeding, crashed into a tree. Having only a lap belt to restrain her, Kelley’s lower back was broken, her entire face was shattered, multiple bones were broken, and she had multiple internal injuries. Kelley remained awake through the wreck and quickly realized that she could no longer feel her legs. She was rushed to the trauma center in Chattanooga, Tennessee where multiple surgeries were performed to stabilize her and it was learned that she had sustained a spinal cord injury at the T-12 level. In the following days, her parents worked tirelessly to find the best rehabilitation hospital for her to begin to recover following her spinal cord injury. She was transferred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, Georgia where she received 2.5 months of rehabilitation, learning to relive her life from a wheelchair. While in rehabilitation, she maintained her school work, taking classes in the hospital, even running for class president from her hospital bed, and worked each day to rebuild her life, piece by piece, all from a wheelchair. Three months to the day of her wreck, she returned to Ooltewah High School in Ooltewah, Tennessee, and went on to graduate with her class as the student body president, homecoming queen, and in the top of her class academically.
Kelley worked hard after her injury with the goal of moving away from home and going to college. And she did just that. Kelley attended Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. She spent her four years in college traveling the world (she met her husband on a school trip to Russia), participating in service projects and investing time in advocacy projects focused on accessibility in rest stops in Alabama. She graduated with a degree in political science with the goal of continuing her education.
Kelley went on to attend law school at the University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville, Tennessee. Kelley traveled the country in trial competitions, served as the President of the Student Bar Association and took on initiatives to increase accessibility in the community through the Knoxville Independent Living Center with the mentorship of her law professor who was blind. Kelley worked as a student attorney in the Innocence Clinic at the law school and spent a year focused on the exoneration of the first individual in the United States that was convicted through the use mitochondrial DNA evidence. She also worked under the elected Public Defender, working in the courtroom most days to help defend the rights of her clients. She was selected to the Order of Barristers for her trial skills and was recognized by the Dean for her leadership at the law school. By the time Kelley graduated law school she knew exactly how she wanted to practice law and that was by helping others, like herself, who had suffered a catastrophic injury.
Kelley’s path to law was clear. She knows firsthand what it is like to be a Plaintiff in a lawsuit following her wreck. After a product liability claim from a defective design in the seatbelt she was wearing at the time of injury, Kelley knew she wanted to commit her life helping others who have been catastrophically injured from the negligence of others. Kelley began her practice in Atlanta, Georgia working at prominent plaintiff’s firms focused on catastrophic injuries and product liability. After moving to Washington, DC, she opened The Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm to have a nationally focused law firm for people following catastrophic injuries. Kelley has tried numerous cases in state and federal court representing individuals in their personal injury claims. She has vast experience in every aspect of the civil justice process and her hard work has helped secure tens of millions of dollars for her clients.
When Kelley is not in the courtroom, she is fighting for greater accessibility in rideshare companies. After being denied a ride in an Uber due to her wheelchair, she began a national campaign called Wheel2Ride, focused on education and policy change in accessibility and inclusivity for Transportation Network Providers (TNPs). She also serves as the Director of Law and Advocacy for SPINALpedia.org, an online video mentoring platform for individuals with spinal cord injuries and is on the Board of Directors for the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia, an independent living center serving people with disabilities in Northern Virginia, and Wheel of Happiness, a nonprofit which provides wheelchairs and medical supplies to underserved communities around the world. She was also appointed to the Fairfax Area Disability Services Board and the WMATA Accessibility Advisory Council. Kelley is the mom to a 5-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son and new baby boy born 4/23/21. She enjoys traveling the world with her family and uses any rare moment alone to practice adaptive yoga.
The Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm is a boutique firm committed to representing individuals following a catastrophic event and helping protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. At The Spinal Cord Injury Law Firm, we take a comprehensive approach to helping each and every client.
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