By Sydney Melson
The Birmingham Times
Growing up the middle child of 10 brothers and sisters gave Birmingham attorney Dan Crane a unique perspective.
“I got to see how older children interacted; I knew what to expect in middle school and high school; and I always had someone to help me deal with problems,” he said.
Crane’s father, an entrepreneur whose work involved military components, instilled in all 10 children the value of having a strong work ethic. “He’s an inspirational person,” Crane said of his dad. “[He] treated us all the same. He demanded a lot from us and held us accountable. He always talked about making people better and helping the community.”
Providing help is a priority at Dan Crane Accident and Injury Law, a firm that specializes in accident-related issues and insurance claims. “I wanted to be more approachable to the public. … to make myself accessible, so people could relate to me.”
In addition to working as an attorney, Crane runs a nonprofit organization: Dan Crane Cares, which has been operating for the past two years, though Crane points out that “we’ve been doing giveaways for the last five years.”
“We do backpack giveaways and turkey drives during the holidays, but we didn’t do one last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Another important value instilled in Crane by his father: faith.
“One time I had to drive to school and didn’t have any gas in the car. I shared my concerns with my dad, and he kind of made that into a life lesson,” Crane recalled. “[He told me] to trust in Jesus, … and trust that [gas] would be there when I wake up in the morning. [He said], ‘You’re not gonna see your goals or what you want immediately, but if you have faith and have trust, it’ll be there.’”
Crane grew up mostly in Orlando, Florida. He played cornerback in high school and at the University of Central Florida (UCF), where he also served one term as president of the Black Law Students Association and pledged Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. During his college years and beyond, he has volunteered as a mentor for children at community centers.
Crane graduated from UCF in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science degree, as well as certificates in Commercial and Transactional Law and Litigation and Trial Advocacy. He then relocated to Birmingham, where he pursued a job with a law firm and earned a degree from the Birmingham School of Law. Though Crane admits law school was tough, there was nothing that could stop him.
“From my upbringing, I was always motivated,” said the 40-year-old attorney. “I was so excited about graduating and accomplishing my plans that I always looked forward. Getting caught in the present will bog you down … and may keep you from accomplishing what you set out to do, but if you look forward to what the outcome will be, that’s your motivation.”
Law also made Crane well rounded: “Lawyers have a broad range of knowledge because we help so many types of people with so many different issues,” he said. “You learn details about everything. If a client suffers a brain injury, you learn more about the brain. If you have a client with a hospital contract dispute, you learn about the intricate parts of how that system works.”
Another source of motivation for Crane was the unjust system he observed in his surroundings.
“It was common to hear stories about issues in systems of government, policing, and … even medical malpractice, where people believe they’re being treated differently because they don’t have insurance,” he said. “When you’re disadvantaged, you’re more likely to be taken advantage of.”
In May 2015, he opened Dan Crane Accident and Injury Law, which has a staff of seven that includes Crane, case managers, paralegals, and other lawyers. One of Crane’s very first cases serves as an example of why he does what he does.
“A woman was having issues with credit card fraud. It messed up her credit, so she couldn’t get any loans, she couldn’t do anything,” he said. “The credit card company was suing her for it, for something she didn’t do. She called me, we got everything dismissed, and we even made them repair her credit. You can see an immediate impact when you see the smile on [a client’s] face. [That client] even did a commercial for me and still refers others [to my firm].”
The end goal is simple: help people.
“The gratification that clients get [is important],” Crane said. “I’ve had people come to me with devastating car wrecks and other issues, and they don’t know what to do. They’re encountering tough times and talk to [us] about what they’re going through, which gives us a big push to help them and [provide] the best support and service possible.”
‘I Can Do That!’
Representation in the legal field is important, as well, Crane said, adding that being a good role model to his 1-year-old daughter, Keagan, means everything.
“You always want to present positive images to children, regardless of their race or nationality, but I think our culture is underrepresented,” he said. “I’ve had people [interact with my firm] and say, ‘I can do that,’ and then they go on to law school. If you never see [that representation], you don’t know that it’s achievable.”
A big part of being a role model means giving back to the community, he said.
“Let’s say you’re in a public office or you own a business, and you control the dollars. That’s good, but what do you do with your own money? If you’re willing to come out of your own pocket, that’s telling,” said the lawyer, in 2018 visited Birmingham Water Works and personally helped a few customers by paying their water bills.
“I want our people, our culture, to be able to help our communities because so often we give to other communities, but they don’t give back to us,” Crane said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed some aspects of the work at Dan Crane Accident and Injury Law.
“We do a lot of DocuSign, [an online paperwork signing software]. At times, we work from home, but not often. [Working remotely] opens your eyes to different avenues to business,” Crane said. “I like to reach out and size people up [in person], but now I’m more comfortable doing consults over the phone. It slowed business down, but it’s a good thing for the consumers because they’re not getting in wrecks and getting injured.”
Courts have changed the way proceedings are held, too.
“They’re doing a lot of hearings [via the online videoconference platform] Zoom. I’d never done a virtual hearing before, but it’s cool because you can wear a suit and have shorts on,” Crane joked.
Despite the changes and challenges, Crane remains focused on the future—and his plans don’t just stop at his law firm.
“I’m a creator. I love creating businesses, talking about them, helping people do business, sharing ideas,” he said. “It’s not just about profits, it’s about helping the community grow. I plan to create more businesses for people to be employed, for people to enjoy life, … just for paying it forward.”
Want more information about Dan Crane Accident and Injury Law? Call 205-623-5533; visit craneinjurylaw.com; follow on Twitter at @craneinjurylaw and on Facebook and Instagram at Dan Crane Injury Law; or stop by the office, located at 9609 Parkway East, Birmingham, AL 35215.