Telling it like it is bringing the community together and working for justice attorney Travis McConnell talks, politics trending news, and how you can make a difference. You’re listening to you We Trust Travis.
Hi everyone I’m Sarina Fazan. I’m a journalist, host, and producer. Welcome to this episode of We Trust Travis. Travis McConnell is a personal injury attorney with a huge passion for the community. So let’s get right to it. Let’s meet Travis right now. Hi Travis.
Hey everybody. Thanks for joining us. Good to see you again, Sarina.
Great to see you, Travis. And this is actually season two of We Trust Travis. So tell us about your show and tell us why you were so passionate to get this on the airwaves.
Yeah, we started this last year with the idea to be able to communicate and to share with people that are interested in learning more about what we do. There was a large emphasis that we’ve always tried to reach on, educate the community about different legal topics. There’s so much that people really appreciate learning. And when you share stories and part of it’s just fun and sharing stories for myself, lawyers like to talk to the sheriff stories a lot of the time, and then there’s a certain part of our clients that like to share what they’ve gone through. And that really means a lot to them, or we’ve had them come on as well and where they can share their stories and talk about what they’ve been through.
You know, my whole platform is share your story. So I love that you said that and before we get into your personal, I want to get into personal injury law and what you do. And I know you do a variety of things, but share with some of the viewers who may just be joining us for season two, a bit about your personal story. You are a practicing attorney in the state of Florida and in Indiana, thus while you’re joining us from Indiana.
Yeah, so I, I grew up in rural Indiana outside of Fort Wayne Little town called sheriff Bosco is where I went to elementary, middle and high school. And from there moved to Indianapolis for a little bit where I went to college and then ultimately went to Florida and we lived in Florida for eight years after I met my wife Sarah, who actually today’s her birthday so much, they happy birthday to her today. And then we eventually had two kids one, a Florida model, the other one in Indiana model after we moved back home to raise them closer to their cousins and aunts and uncles and grandma and grandpa who were all still here in Indiana. But I’ve got the office in Florida as well in St. Petersburg where you guys are at today. So that’s a little bit about me.
Tell us you know, share a little bit more on why you wanted to become an attorney and why focus. I know you do criminal law as well, but why you wanted to focus on personal injury?
Yeah, so I started out, I think probably like any little kid wanting to be firefighter. Everybody loves the firefighters, right? At least the red truck with what it really gets going for it. But I actually started college pre-med. I was going to be a doctor, an orthopedic surgeon. I think I just kinda always wanted to help people as the overarching sort of path I followed for a minute, I went into politics and did that for a little while and then realized that it wasn’t for me either. And well, what could I do? I thought maybe law school and I went and worked at a law firm for a year before going to law school to see if it would be a good fit. And I just loved it. And it was a small friend in broad ripple, which is a part of Indianapolis.
And they did a criminal law, family law, a little bit of other stuff as well. And I really appreciated them. They kind of got me on the path of being more than just a lawyer and a regular guy with a law degree as well. I like to say their firm was Ady most and J rail and they S they would always say that the first initials are because they have first names to instead of law firms always splitting with last names and they were just great people. Jason Ray Elm is now a judge in Indianapolis and magistrate down there. And Anastasia is still practicing law at her office there. And Robert bull, maybe it’s fantastic people to learn from and get started as far as the personal injury aspect of it. I think what attracted me to it is just the ability to help anybody.
It eliminates the barrier of people, not being able to afford an attorney where with the contingency fee agreement, anybody can come into my office for a free consultation. And we can talk about working on a case. You don’t have to pay me anything to get started, and you don’t have to pay me anything if I don’t win for you. So I get to help a large variety of clients, as opposed to somewhere that might do what they may affectionately call like rich person law, or something like that, where people are able to afford to pay a lawyer to do various things. It’s a much broader client base.
Well, Travis, and, you know, I want to get into that too, about the free consultation and how personal injury works. So why don’t we talk about that right now with personal injury and someone needs a personal injury attorney, how does that work? Do they have to take money out of their own pocket to, to hire a personal injury attorney?
They should not know the way that personal injury works is a contingency fee arrangement. That means that contingencies the concept that like you only get paid. If something happened in personal injury, you only get paid. If you win is basically the way that it should work. It’s a percentage. So a lawyer’s going to charge you typically 33 and a third or one third total of debt recovery. That’s before filing a lawsuit, a lot of times if a lawsuit’s involved and there’s extra work, it will go up to 40%. So with that sort of an arrangement, it doesn’t cost you anything to get started. It doesn’t cost you anything out of your pocket. The only other aspect that comes into play is potentially with costs. That’s for example, file a lawsuit. You have to pay a filing fee to the court system that you have to take depositions and hire court reporters, or you have to hire investigative things to investigate a case and prosecute your case. Those things are going to cost money. In addition to the lawyers fees, they have to repaid and most law firms will typically advance those costs. And then those get paid out of a settlement as well. Some may require that you to pay a cost retainer depending on the situation.
Well, if you do have to pay a cost retainer, is that any type of flag that goes up?
It’s a potential yellow flag. I wouldn’t say it’s a red flag, but the, a lot of the times the lawyers may require it on cases where they think there’s less chance to prevail. So they want you to put some skin in the game and see how serious you are. But it could also be a sign that the law firm doesn’t have a sufficient resources to handle the case. If they’re asking you to chip in that money too. So you just want to make sure to ask questions about it and ask, you know, why and what the issue is.
And I want to delve into that a bit deeper as well, but a third of, you know, like with an attorney taking a third, that is very common, though, right? People should not be upset or just be concerned about that. That’s PR that’s pretty typical.
Yeah. I would say it’s probably almost universal, although I don’t see most of my competitors or colleagues, contracts to see what they’re actually charging, but it’s, it’s the month, it’s that basically by the ethical rules that you’re allowed to charge up to. So you shouldn’t be getting anything over that. If you see a percentage that’s higher than that, then that would be a big red flag. And then there’s some people that may charge less than that. In certain situations, I may charge less if it’s a pretty simple issue where it’s going to be resolved relatively quickly or, or I’ll use my standard contract that has the third in there. But if it’s, you know, we wrote a letter and got a quick settlement and there wasn’t a lot to it discounted on the back end sort of thing. Sure.
The reason why I’m asking you all these questions too, is because we want to educate the public, not just the people in Indiana and not just the people in Florida, but people throughout the country on when they are searching for a public injury attorney, what they need to look for expanding on that question, especially with gosh, a public injury attorney, you know, you are at your, your worst sadly, right? Personal injury you’re hurt. So emotionally, physically, it could be extremely difficult. What advice would you have for people seeking an injury? An attorney.
I mean, the main thing is you want to make sure and actually talk with your attorney face-to-face that you’re meeting that you’re going to ultimately hire there’s a lot of times that people may not actually meet with the lawyer. They might meet with staff, a paralegal, or even just an intake specialist, something like that. You need to get somebody who is able to communicate with you directly, that will actually answer all of your questions. It takes the time to thoroughly understand your case and to what you’re going to have to go through. You should ask how the process works. It’s a rather lengthy process, longer time for folks. It’s not some people think that personal injury law is something where it’s fairly simple, that we just asked for money and we get checks. And it’s way more complicated than that. So,
And let me ask you though. I think a lot of people, could you explain to us Travis, the difference between personal or how they work together, actually personal injury workman’s comp disability, because sometimes you might be personally injured, but it may have happened, you know, on the job or you suffer a disability that could alter your life. Could you, could you explain how that works together? Do you need just one attorney? Do you need to get three attorneys? If you could just explain it to us?
Sure. You might get one attorney that can handle all three of those, but a lot of time you’re probably going to have more than one. So personal injury, the idea is that basically you’re hurt and it’s someone else’s fault either. They did something that they shouldn’t have, or they didn’t do something that they should have. I mean, like they should’ve stopped at a stop sign. They did not. And they ran into you. They were speeding and that caused a crash or some sort of other breakfast, private and texting and driving and things like that. But there’s also beyond the car crash, which is the most common one there’s slips and falls. There’s unsafe workplaces, there’s defective products where things go wrong. You know, food poisoning cases are cases that personal injury lawyers will handle sometimes. So there’s a variety of personal injury cases, but the basic premise is you’re hurt and somebody else is responsible for that happening.
And then you can make that recovery workers’ compensation as you got hurt on the job. And you’re an employee. If you’re an independent contractor, then workers’ comp typically won’t apply to you. But if you’re an employee somewhere and you get hurt at work and your state will have workers’ compensation laws that provide for a recovery, that’s different than personal injury, there’s different measures of damages. The idea with workers’ comp is they want workers to be able to get fixed up and get back to work as quickly as possible. And so you provided medical bills and timeline of work and things like that. And it’s a no fault system. So every accident is covered as long as it’s, what’s considered an accident. If you get into a fight with somebody and it was an intentional fight, that’s not an accident, but most of the accidents are covered the laws state by state.
So people, you know, you think about, oh gosh, do we need to research this? And I even paused for a moment because that can be very daunting right. To research. So how do people find the, the right the right attorney? Is it, is it also based on reference, you know, what is, what is your best advice on seeking out the right person for you?
Yeah, I mean, I do a little bit of research take the time and look at if people have them from former clients on their websites or on Google, things like that check out their websites, see if they’re talking about a lot of things and that they seem to make sense if they’re taking the time to explain things. But I mean, a lot of it’s just that face-to-face meeting where you make sure to ask questions, ask them like, who’s, the lawyer is going to be handling my cases that you is it somebody else? Are you going to take my case? And are you going to handle it all the way through to the finish line potentially like, or is this something where if we get partway through and it’s not worked out, somebody else comes in and takes it over. If there are multiple aspects to know about you may not realize that there are, we didn’t even talk about the disability.
One, like disability means that basically you’re not able to work and it’s a government provided benefit. So if you’re ended up being permanently injured and where you can’t work, you’re going to potentially qualify for disability. In addition to either workers’ comp and personal injury. And there’s a corollary between the two where like, you need to know how they work together because there’s potential consequences. If you don’t do things the right way. And if you don’t know about all the benefits, you’re not going to be able to maximize your recovery fully either. So you can get on the internet and do research. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to do, but do keep in mind a lot of, it’s just talk to your attorney and ask those questions and that what you find on your Google search may or may not be entirely accurate, just, you know, I’ve got a coffee cup, that’s a little bit of a funny gag where it’s in, don’t confuse your Google search with my law degree. But getting on Google and doing some research is never a bad thing.
You know, I, you know what you pointed out on making sure that you are able to talk to your attorney and that the person that you’re talking to is actually the person that’s handling the case. That’s why it’s important that you have your attorneys as simple as this may sound their cell phone number, correct?
Yeah. I mean, I give my clients my cell phone number. There’s more and more lawyers that are doing that. I still think it’s probably a minority that do, but even if they don’t give you your cell phone, if you’re not able to have a conversation with your lawyer, when you call, if they’re not returning your calls within a prompt time period, that’s a, that’s a yellow flag. If not a red flag if they’re not taking the time to return your calls then you know, there’s, there’s a potential problem coming down the pike like this, the number one duty for lawyers is to stay in touch with their clients and communicate with them. And not only did we like give people my cell phone number, we had my office cell phone number as well, because now nowadays more and more people are communicating via text where they, they don’t even want to necessarily talk on the phone. And so we’ll text back and forth. Until we really need to have a more substantive conversation. It’s like, okay, I need you to call me and we shut the Texas. That’s please call me.
Well, I’m so glad you brought up the cell phone because of course, this is your show. And I know that you give out your cell phone number to your clients. So I didn’t want to throw any other attorneys under the bus, but you’re right. The line is they have to be easily accessible though, to you that if you call the office or if you email that attorney is going to get back to you and talk to you.
Yes. Yeah. I mean, that’s, the bottom line is in whatever format it is. Like they need to be communicating with you and you need to be, you need to be informed about what’s going on. You shouldn’t be left out of the process. I mean, there’s so much with personal injury, like there’s such a tight relationship between the lawyer and the client. A lot of times, again, that’s one of the common misconceptions is people think they hire the lawyer. The lawyer does all the work, but the client is so integral to the process and staying in touch with them about what’s going on. I mean, usually a personal injury lawyer would get hired near the beginning of the case, after some sort of accident has happened and there’s medical treatment is going to go on and we need to know, like, are you going to the doctor?
Where are you going? How are things going? You know, do you need any sort of guidance about other types of things that are going on any sort of counseling issues, things like that, helping people through that process, because we have to request the medical records to be able to get a copy of them, which is a whole nightmare in and of itself is working through getting copies of client’s medical records and bills. And then there’s managing the bills and trying to make sure things don’t go to collections. So you don’t have that whole hurdle and staying in touch with that. Otherwise, if a client doesn’t reach out and say, Hey, I’m getting these bills and they’re just putting them in the trash and it’s like, your lawyer might be able to help make sure that those don’t go to collections if you talk to them and there may even be money available to pay for them. If there’s an insurance policy with what’s called medical payment coverage, where we can submit those bills and have them paid prior to a settlement, depending on the type of insurance coverage it’s available on a workers’ comp case, they’re supposed to be covered by workers’ comp. They’re supposed to cover those upfront.
You know, you bring up a point and we, we ha we are devoting actually a whole episode about the effect of COVID and the courtroom. But speaking of people who are personally injured or need workman’s comp you know, again, a lot of times you’re in your worst state and you need the money right now. If you can’t get it, are there options on getting in advance?
There are there’s, what’s called advanced settlement funding. There’s different companies that provide it. There’s a variety of that are out there. And certain ones are they offer different interest rates, things like that. It’s usually someone that you want to use as a last resort. Like don’t use it unless you absolutely have to because the interest rates are relatively high. It, since it’s not technically a loan, it’s an advance on your settlement, which means it’s non-recourse, which means if you don’t win, you don’t have to pay it back, which is great. But if you do get it paid back, which typically you’re going to, and it’s going to come out of your settlement, the interest rate is going to be relatively high. Like there’s some times, depending on what it is, where you may end up paying double or more, what you borrowed to pay it off at the end, the day, depending on how long it takes.
That’s scary. So if you have a great attorney who you can talk through these things that’s more beneficial to the client going back to, that’s why you need to have a great relationship, the attorney.
Yeah. And before we go out and get funding, call your lawyer and see if they know, you know, there’s a particular company that this company I know from their track record, they’re a little better than that company sort of thing. Typically lawyers will have maybe a relationship with one or the other, or at least they’re familiar with the terms. It’s not like there’s any sort of kickback or anything like that going on between the two, because it’s actually expressly prohibited according to the ethical rules. It used so glad you brought that
Up though. So if you can just expand on that a little bit.
So it’s actually a change in the rules. It used to be, gosh, I don’t even know how long ago 50 years, or whenever they’ve made the change that lawyers could actually advance costs for their client living expenses. And then they found that that was causing issues on cases and they, they eliminated the lawyer is not allowed to give his client a gift of any kind whatsoever. And so the lawyer has been taken out of that. And that’s where these advanced funding companies have come in to try and fill the gap. So the lawyer should not be getting any sort of a cut from one or the other. And because it would be a violation of their ethical rules.
Well, you bring up a point that I want to actually go back to another point that you brought up earlier and you and you and I have had discussions off-air before we went on air about consequences to not knowing your options. If you could share that story, for instance, the disability story that you were talking about on how, if you don’t get the right again, you could be the attorney handling all of it, but if they don’t know the rules, it could have a serious impact in the future.
Is it one of the big ones? I think that we talked about, off-air where it is in Indiana where I practice workers’ comp and personal injury. If you have a car crash on the job, I’ve got a case like this right now, that’s went on. If you were to settle the personal injury case before you settle the workers’ compensation case, the settlement of the personal injury case will automatically close out the workers’ compensation case. And so that case will go away and you probably don’t want it to if you settle the workers’ comp case first, then you can still move on with the personal injury case and those two work together. And how, like personally, the worker’s comp might get to be paid back a percentage of how much you get from the personal injury is how something like that might happen.
But if you don’t do it the right way and a lawyer doesn’t know, they could completely jeopardize your workers’ compensation claim, which typically would, that would be a real big problem is if let’s say you have a personal injury case, and there’s the limit of insurance car insurance, typically that people purchase 25,000 per person, 50,000 per accident, a hundred thousand 300, these sorts of things that people go out and purchase. Let’s say you settle your personal injury case for 25,000 because it’s the maximum limit of insurance the defendant has available, but you’ve got a catastrophic injury where workers’ compensation will be on the hook for your medical bills for the rest of your life that are going to cost way more than $25,000. And now that case has just done an over
Wow. Again, very, that’s why it’s very, very important to know your options. Well, Travis, let me ask you this. You also need to know, right? If you’re, if your personal injury attorney has trial experience, but I was very surprised at the statistics that most of the cases don’t even go to trial.
Most cases don’t and lawyers may not have a large number of trials under their brow, but you need to make sure that they do have the ability to go to trial and that they’ve got some experience under their belt, or maybe even if they don’t have experience, they’re willing to do it because some lawyers don’t at all, they may say, if you were to ask them, and they’re going to be honest with you, they’re going to say, well, we handle cases up to this point. And then if it’s going to have to go into litigation or trial, we refer those out to, in their law firm to go ahead and take over because they do our trial work. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you might want to ask yourself the question about like, well, why don’t I just hire that lawyer then versus this one?
But in how that works, the, we handle our cases from start to finish here. We are in, most of the cases will resolve he used to be the most of them resolved before lawsuits. It seems like we’re covered and just tightening it. The insurance companies are tightening the belt more and more cases are going to lawsuits. But yeah, as far as before trial, probably 99% of cases will resolve before trial. At some point, whether that’s after sending out an offer letter or what some people call it, demand butter to the insurance company to resolve it before filing a lawsuit after filing a lawsuit just after the basic filing of it. And they realized that you were serious and they’ll settle to any point in the lawsuit process after depositions of witnesses that have happened after exchange of certain documents or videos at a mediation conference where the whole point is to get together and try and work the case out with a third party neutral to assist the parties, to the steps of the courthouse. You might show up for a jury trial and once the jury is sworn in, or even before you’ll actually settle at the courthouse steps or a certain partway through the trial economics happen, or you may have to go through the entire trial, get your judgment and then go forward.
Well, that’s why it’s so important still to have a an attorney with vast experience that can deal with all of this. You know, even if it doesn’t go to trial, I mean, it could be the day before an hour before you just need to be very well-prepared. Let me ask you Travis. I know, again, as we mentioned a little bit earlier, we’re D we’re devoting a whole episode two COVID and the courtroom, but in typical, or even right now, like typically how long does it take to settle a case?
It depends on the case again, but like, if you’re gonna use the long run right now some things have been delayed but probably your worst case scenario, or there’s probably a worse, it just depends. But typically a case should get to a trial and be done within four to five years. You know, if it’s going much past that, then things went wrong, probably or there was a lot more complexity to it. Not so much that it went wrong, just that it’s a more complicated situation and something’s going on now, if there’s going to be an appeal after that, and appeal might take another year on top of that as well, depending on how many appeals are involved, but a lot of cases. Well, again, there’s, there’s a certain number of cases they’ll resolve within the first three to six months, some quicker, even depending on if it’s a catastrophic injury where there’s horrible injuries and there’s unfortunately not enough insurance money, it should be like, we have one right now, actually there was a death from a car crash.
And so we’re sending out a letter that basically says, this person died. They have a family, they had a job, give us all your money. It’s fairly straightforward type of situation liability. Isn’t an issue. The other person’s clearly at fault. So there’s not a whole lot to argue about. But you know, so at any point in mind for the person that’s getting treatment, you’re talking probably three to six months from when that treatment is done. And over that a lot of settlements will happen in that range. And then again, at any point between that range and the longer range,
So the best advice to on the, you know, is when he said three to five years. Oh my gosh. Just make sure that you’re patient have faith in your attorney and hope that the process will work,
Right? Yeah. And again, I think most cases resolved before that time period, but I’m going to put a longer end if you’re going to fight. If you’re going to trial, it’s going to take a while and you might be able to get one sooner, but just the process, I guess maybe I should explain. So you do the latter, you do that sort of thing, but litigation process, you file your lawsuit. The other side has 20 days to file an answer. They can file a motion, asking the judge for Morton, which is a common thing here in Indiana. It’s not so much in Florida, Florida, you have to do to get an answer, Indiana the last for an extra 30 days. And then they’ll answer. It’s just a different style of practice. And then from there, there’s, what’s called discovery, which will take anywhere from six months to a year, depending typically, and then on how complicated it is.
And then you’re usually going to a mediation conference. At some point, if you resolve a lot of cases will resolve at mediation or before, or shortly after. It’s probably the majority. If it doesn’t resolve at mediation, now you’re asking for a trial date, if you haven’t already for one. And when you ask for that trial date, it’s going to be at least probably six months out, depending on the jurisdiction where you’re at, maybe less, if you’re in a smaller area, jurisdiction means where were your cases located? I apologize. So the county where you’re at. So if you’re in a smaller county that has less population than you probably going to get there, but the courts aren’t as busy typically. But if you’re in somewhere like Tampa St Petersburg or a bigger area, you’re going to have you’re, you’re one of tens of thousands of people who might need a trial, if not more.
So you’re gonna have to wait awhile before you get that. And then when you get to your trial, there’s the way that it works. Typically is courts have what they call dockets. That means there’s multiple cases set for trial the same time, because again, things might settle that week right beforehand. So they don’t want to waste bringing in a bunch of jurors for a case that settles. So they’ll have six to 10 people on our list of the trials where you’re number one through 10 or whatever the list is. If you’re number one and you know, you’re not going to settle well, then, you know, you’re going to trial. But if you’re number 10, you gotta be ready to go to trial because one through nine myself,
Lots of information. Well, you’ve been so insightful, Travis, and I’m looking forward to the season and we trust Travis because we’re talking about a lot of issues we’re talking about once again COVID and the effect of the courtroom. We’re also talking about drug addiction and how that can really affect the court system. We have many episodes, also your huge efforts in the community. We even talk politics. So it’s an exciting season. I really appreciate you asking me to be the host again, and I’m looking, we’re looking forward to it.
Yeah, no, thanks for coming back. And you just make the process so easy and enjoyable. I couldn’t do it without you.
Oh gosh. This is why we not only press Travis. We love Travis drew. Thank you so much, so much, Travis. And thank you so much, everybody for watching, please like, and share this video and look for upcoming episodes on season two of We Trust Travis.
To learn more about Travis McConnell, head to TravisMCLaw.com. Thank you for listening to We Trust Travis.