#1: What made you choose a career in personal injury law?
My law partner, Tony Kalka, recruited me. I never dreamed in a million years that I would handle personal injury cases. However, it was the best career decision I've made. My clients are very appreciative of the work that we do and support we show. Being an integral part of a client's rebuilding process is very rewarding.
#2: In your opinion, what sets your firm apart from other firms in the area?
Attention that Tony and I devote to clients and cases. We do the intake. We meet with the clients. We return phone calls, texts, etc. If we are not available, we will have another attorney in our office meet with a client; not an investigator. It is tough to effectively represent someone without a strong rapport. Rapport requires personal contact.
#3: Tell us about a case that you are particularly proud of:
Christie K. Several months after being involved in a moderate impact collision with an uninsured driver, she suffered a "mild stroke." She was a woman in her mid-twenties who had plans to attend Harvard graduate school. The stroke prevented her from attending. Her neurologist attributed the stroke to a Vertebral Arterial Dissection (VAD) or tear to an artery in the neck which caused a blood clot.
There were all kinds of issues in this case including failure to provide timely notice of the accident to her Uninsured Motorist (UM) carrier. When Christie was in the accident, it did not seem like a big deal so she did not make a claim with her insurance company. The at-fault driver had paid her cash to get her car fixed and she had no reason to know of the internal injury she might have suffered. Then, six months later, she is out to dinner and she fells a massive headache; her vision becomes distorted; her speech slurred; and she falls trying to go to the bathroom. Fortunately, she was taken to the hospital and diagnosed as having suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), commonly referred to as a mild stroke.
We were able to overcome the notice issue through Christie's phone records showing that she did call her insurance company and at least reported the accident. This is a reminder to everyone to REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO YOUR INSURER EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT AT FAULT AND YOU DO NOT INTEND TO PURSUE A CLAIM. YOU NEVER KNOW. IF YOU DO NOT PROMPTLY NOTIFY YOUR INSURER THAT YOU HAVE BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT, YOU MAY BE PRECLUDED FROM LATER MAKING A CLAIM.
The biggest issue in the case was causation: proving that the accident caused the VAD and that the VAD was the culprit for the TIA given the extended time between the accident and the TIA. Through multiple conversations with her treating physicians and exhaustive research of the medical literature, we were able to link everything up, and Christie's UM carrier paid slightly less than policy limits and over 3 times Christie's medical bills to resolve the case.
Christie has since made a complete recovery. Instead of pursuing graduate school, she decided to open her own business which is thriving. We remain good friends.
#4: What steps do you take to prepare for a difficult case?
Know the facts and relevant law better than I know myself. Brainstorm with co-workers, colleagues, spouse, family, friends, dry cleaner, cab driver, butcher anyone who will listen for themes that will resonate with potential jurors.
#5: How do you view your role in the attorney-client relationship?
Advocate and counselor. I zealously represent my client's interests when dealing with the other side. I counsel my client by providing information in an easy to understand manner that improves their ability to make informed decisions about their case. The zealous advocate is the easy part, relatively speaking. Attorneys are trained to argue a side.
The counseling is more difficult. Often, you are giving information to the client about the weaknesses in the case and that is sometimes difficult to deliver and receive. Some clients' initial reaction is quite understandably, "I hired you to fight for me not tell me all the things that are wrong with the case." But most realize, at least eventually, that counseling is also why they hired us. A client cannot make an informed decision without knowing what the weaknesses are, and how it impacts the value of the case.
#6: What non-legal experiences have you had that benefit your personal injury clients?
I herniated a disc in my low back when I was 23 and have suffered from low back and leg pain since then. Three weeks ago, I had my third back surgery, a lumbar fusion at L5-S1 I have also had my fair share of epidurals, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic adjustments, rest, home exercises, pilates, yoga, you name it to try to help treat and manage the pain. Anyway, I've been there and know how debilitating an injury can be.
#7: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Sincere appreciation and gratitude of clients I represent.
#8 What advice do you most often give your personal injury clients & why?
Focus your time and energy on getting well and getting your life back as best as possible. Control what you can control. Let us worry about the legal stuff. We will work very hard to investigate, gather and assemble facts necessary to maximize your recovery.
Ultimately, there is no amount of money that can make someone truly whole from a permanent or debilitating injury and worrying about how much you will recover only impedes the recovery. It is very rare that a client actually recovers an amount that makes him/her say, "I'm so glad I was hurt; the money that I now have was worth everything I went through."