A blue-collar kid from Council Bluffs, IA, Craig grew up around auto service stations and race tracks. “I grew up in a family that raced lots of things. My family was in the service station business and our passion was racing. When I was in ninth grade, my parents bought Sunset Speedway in Omaha. The great thing about the speedway was that it allowed me to go to school in the winter and work in the summer to make enough money to keep going to school.”
After graduating from Northwest Missouri State University with a business degree, he planned to bring a law degree from Creighton University back to the family business, but success in law school and trial law competitions led to a law clerk job while in law school with a big law firm representing insurance companies.
“I was on the other side of what we do now,” said Craig, “and I just never enjoyed celebrating a ‘win’ where an injured person got nothing or less than they should. They were left in a lurch; it just never did sit right with me. Considering my philosophy of life, I knew I needed to make a change. A better career to move for me was to represent injured people. After a short search, I found John Inserra and his father; this Firm is where I have been ever since graduating from law school in 1986. My work and my faith lined up, now I am happy to go work each day where I know I help the people who need it.”
Craig started with lots of smaller injury cases and helped with the firm’s railroad-employee injury practice. “At that time we were handling railroad cases from Kansas City to Denver. When I was a young lawyer, I spent a lot of time in North Platte and Alliance, Nebraska. I probably had more trials and more depositions as a young lawyer in my first 15 years of practice than most people have in their careers, because of our big case load.”
“I had some very good trial results. Being on this side of the law that helped injured people became my passion.”
It was a railroad case not involving an employee though, that brought the firm it’s largest settlement and made Craig a partner, and Inserra & Kelley was born. “It was a case where a mother and two daughters were killed at a railroad crossing. I represented the 18-month old son that was paralyzed by the accident. Of course they said that crossing was safe even though there were no warning lights or crossing arms. We hunted down the retired engineers that they tried to hide and discovered they were complaining about that crossing for a long time. We caught the railroad and the county in several untruths. We put together a structured settlement for that kid that has served him through adulthood. I visited him in the home he bought in South Dakota; purchased with the big settlement obtained on the courthouse steps prior to the start of trial.”
Craig loves his profession. “It’s helping people heal first, and then getting them results for their losses and permanent injury. Whether it’s a fight about liability, medical care, or treatment. If you don’t have an injury lawyer, you are more likely to get turned down on liability or proper medical treatment. Our team fights a lot of battles, for our clients. It’s rewarding to help people heal better and faster with the proper medical treatment, not to mention make the world safer. It’s satisfying to help people battle against big insurance and corporations that these people simply can’t effectively fight on their own.”
Craig’s practice emphasizes all areas of personal injury law, with a large emphasis on vehicle, motorcycle and bicycle-related cases and claims. The firm is designated legal counsel of the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.), the Nebraska State H.O.G. Rally, and is also the designated legal counsel for most motorcycle chapters in the surrounding area in both Nebraska and Iowa
“Our other new area of expertise is bad medical devices and pharmaceuticals/drugs, either as a defect in design, manufacturing or marketing,” said Kelley. “Medical device and drug liability began big with bad breast implants, bad birth control devices and bad drug side-effects. There’s been a lot of drug cases in the last 10-15 years, and these cases are national multi-district litigation groups that require specific expertise. Drug companies rush to take products and devices to the market and they don’t do the testing they used to do. We are one of very few firms in Nebraska and Iowa that deal with these kind of cases on a national level.”
Craig and his wife, Kerry, the retired CIO at STRATCOM Headquarters (Offutt Air Base) and CEO of Kerry Kelley Consulting, L.L.C., reside in the Dundee area of Omaha and have two sons, Christopher (manages the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery in Juneau, Alaska for DIPAC) and Brendan (Microbiologist at Midwest Laboratories in Omaha), and a daughter, Caitlin, who attends Nursing School at Marquette University. Craig is also the Founder and Principal of Kelley Auto Racing Management Advisors (K.A.R.M.A.), former General Manager of Nebraska Raceway Park (now I-80 Speedway), the former 25-year Co-owner of Omaha’s long-time NASCAR race track and “Only Place to be on Sunday Night”, Sunset Speedway and Founder of the Dundee Chain Gang Cycling Club.
He enjoys riding on his Harley Street Glide, bicycling with the Dundee Chain Gang, frequenting live music/concerts, watching the sports of his alma maters and being involved with his Saint Margaret Mary parish events, as well as serving on many non-profit and charitable boards around the metro.