Nothing for Granted
A near-death experience helped Keith Fuicelli relate to his clients—and remember what’s important
Published in 2022 Colorado Super Lawyers magazine
By Rebecca Mariscal on March 4, 2022
When he’s in trial, Keith Fuicelli starts every day with the same routine. He laces up his sneakers and heads out into the Colorado morning for a run. The feel of his feet on the pavement and the sun rising over Sloan’s Lake allow him to think through his upcoming day in court.
“There’s nothing better than jogging as far as giving your mind a place to wander, free from distractions of everyday life,” he says. “I like to run and think through the different arguments, closings, opening statements—really play out in my mind how I foresee the trial going.”
He started the routine as a way to relieve stress when he was a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office. It stayed with him as he transitioned to personal injury law, his focus for the last 16 years.
“I’ve always liked helping people, specifically helping the little guy against the big guy, and always had a passion for seeking justice,” says the partner at Fuicelli & Lee. “At the heart of personal injury work is, of course, representing people who have been wronged one way or the other by someone else.”
In 2007, he found himself among that group of people, becoming a member of a club “that nobody wants to join.”
Fuicelli had just finished a run in City Park and was heading home through downtown Denver. As he jogged across 17th Avenue, he was struck by a car. He sustained a fractured tibia, fibula and hip—and a traumatic brain injury. “I remember the beginning of the day, and then I don’t remember anything for about a month.”
Fuicelli spent two months in the hospital. The experience gave him even greater appreciation for what his clients go through.
“It really helps me empathize with clients in term of the uncertainty that goes along with any kind of serious injury, both physically and cognitively,” he says. That empathy has the been the lasting effect of the accident.
It also gave him a greater understanding of brain injuries and their long-term effects. “One of the things about people that suffer a brain injury, irrespective of the severity of the brain injury suffered, is questions about the future and self-doubt about their abilities,” Fuicelli says. “Having lived through that, even with a healthy dose of optimism, when I encounter brain-injured clients, I’m able to recognize that piece of the puzzle and present that piece of the puzzle to a jury because a lot of times it’s missed.”
The impact extended into his personal life as well. Now Fuicelli works to treasure the everyday moments, and tries not to take himself too seriously. “The other piece is a real appreciation of the joy of the little things and really trying to not take anything for granted, that constant reminder that it can all be taken from you,” he says.
Even once he was discharged from the hospital, recovery was an extensive process, but Fuicelli refused to accept any limitations. Less than a year after the accident, he tried to run again. “I wanted to test myself to see what I could or couldn’t do and to push the envelope,” he says.
He also wasn’t willing to give up the activity that brought him peace and clarity. “Once you get over the physical pain of running and you actually become accustomed to it, then it’s very therapeutic,” Fuicelli says. “And I so longed for the therapeutic piece of running.”
He doesn’t get out as often as he used to, but when a trial comes up or he needs the break, Fuicelli still heads out to City Park or Sloan’s Lake for 3- or 4-mile runs. The view that greets him is spectacular.
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