Speaker 1 (00:03):
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, We trust Travis.
Speaker 2 (00:19):
Hi everyone I’m Sarina Fazan, I’m a journalist, host, and producer, and I am honored to launch the We Trust Travis podcast. Travis McConnell is a personal injury attorney with a huge passion for the community. So let’s get to it. Travis, thank you so much. So tell us, tell us why you want to launch, We trust Travis,
Speaker 3 (00:38):
The main reason was to stay in touch with people make sure and be here to answer questions, provide that assistance to everybody and just stay in touch with everybody. Communication is so key.
Speaker 2 (00:50):
It is absolutely key. And I know you have such a huge passion for the community, and I want to get into all of that, but give us a little bit of history, like where you live. I know you’ve been practicing for 11 years now, right? And you have a Florida and you have a two-state connection.
Speaker 3 (01:07):
That’s correct. Yeah. I practice both in Florida and in Indiana. So I grew up in outside a small town called Chera Bosco. Indiana is where I grew up and moved away from Indiana after college. Like a lot of Indiana Hoosiers steel, and moved to Florida because of the sunshine and great weather and lots of stuff to do and live there for five, six years before moving back home to raise the kids and be close to family and kept the office. And now I have a multi-state law practice in both Florida and Indiana. Our main location is in St. Petersburg, Florida started that office right out of law school, as it were and hung our own shingle followed. And I guess my grandfather and father’s footsteps and making my own business. And then our office here in Indiana is in Warsaw where I live now.
Speaker 2 (01:55):
Well, you how is it trying to maintain the two practices in two different States?
Speaker 3 (02:03):
It’s a little tricky. Luckily I have a really good team. I couldn’t do it by myself. That’s for sure. It starts at home. I’ve got an amazing wife and great kids that are very understanding of, you know, what I need to travel and, and my, my workaholic nature as it were in addition to the office also all the volunteering that I do in the community, but also have a great team at the office. We have you know, great assistants and paralegals and other attorneys down in Florida that shifts when needed to make sure I keep things moving,
Speaker 2 (02:35):
You know, and I know you mentioned your wife and your two kids, so will you have a seven-year-old will write and Ellie that’s spore that’s correct. And your wife, Sarah,
Speaker 3 (02:46):
And then my wife, Sarah.
Speaker 2 (02:48):
That’s awesome. So let me ask you I know that you focus on many areas of your practice, but personal injury is a passion of yours,
Speaker 3 (02:57):
Correct? We do predominantly injury. We do a little bit of criminal defense in India, and I only wear principally app because there’s a lot more active court hearings that happen with that than with personal injury. So I need to be here to be able to walk across the street as it were to the justice center, to be able to handle those. But it’s predominantly personal injury.
Speaker 2 (03:17):
Travis, why did you decide to do personal injury? And I know worker’s compensation and getting workers you know, everything they’re entitled to is extremely important to you. Why did you, why did you decide to go into that direction?
Speaker 3 (03:30):
Yeah, so I kind of fell into it a little bit, but not really. I mean, I always kind of wanted to help people before I was a lawyer, I wanted to be a doctor. And before that, when I was real little kid, I wanted to be a firefighter, like every little point I had you know, I think what drew me to personal injury in particular was being able to fight tough fights and help people at the same time. When you’re dealing with a personal injury case, you’re not dealing with the defendant. Usually who’s the one that caused the negligent act, the crash or the fall or whatever it was, you’re dealing with their insurance company. That’s usually the one that you’re dealing with. And they’re big multimillion, if not billion dollar companies that don’t like to play fair necessarily with people.
Speaker 3 (04:18):
And so the great thing about personal injury is it allows us to level the playing field which may sound cliche, but I mean, personal injury lawyers are paid a percentage of what we get for our clients. So someone who has literally nothing can hire us to come in and then we’ll not only not have to pay us anything up front, but the office will advance costs typically on your case to fight the case that needs to be fought to ultimately win and then get recovery on the backend in, against the big opponent that you wouldn’t be able to take on by yourself.
Speaker 2 (04:47):
Absolutely. So I know you also do a lot of work with migrant workers, correct? That are, you know, bilingual, maybe some of them is you know, English certainly is their second language. Maybe not even speaking English that well.
Speaker 3 (05:02):
Yeah. So I’m bilingual in Spanish and English. And when I first started my practice, I didn’t predominantly workers’ compensation claims. And that was a lot of what we did in Florida. And we still do some workers’ compensation claims as well. And we have another attorney that will often refer things to if we don’t handle it ourselves. But the, the main issue on those claims is if you’re able to find someone else who is at fault than to make a full personal injury claim for those people, because the big difference between workers’ comp and personal injury is they’re two totally different sets of laws and work comp has some upsides, but a lot of downsides where you don’t get a full recovery that you would get in a personal injury case. So if we’re able to find a personal injury what’s called, we will definitely always explore that option and help people out with that.
Speaker 3 (05:53):
And then oftentimes we’ll assist with the workers’ comp, even if we’re not able to have the personal injury claim and a lot of what we do in Florida, especially starting out in my practice, being bilingual and just, there’s a lot of farm injuries. There’s a lot of agriculture in Florida. Maybe people on the coast don’t know about as much, but the interior of Florida is basically strawberry fields, groves, all that sort of stuff. Tomatoes down farther South. And there’s a lot of injuries that happen with people and a lot of manual labor people trip to us, their ankles, people backs give out after picking tons of tomatoes and other produce people fall from ladders and orange trees. That sort of thing,
Speaker 2 (06:34):
You know, as a journalist, we did cover a lot of those stories, sadly, where you did see a lot of those workers get injured. And it’s great to know that there are attorneys like you that have their best interest and any of your clients in mind. So when someone is seeking a personal injury attorney or a know comp claim, what questions Travis, should they be asking? What type of attorneys should they be looking for? What advice would you give?
Speaker 3 (07:04):
Yeah, I mean, the big thing is you want to ask number one, who’s the attorney that’s going to handle your case. And ideally, you’re going to be meeting with that attorney a lot of times, bigger firms and even some of the smaller firms operate under what’s called a kind of a mill type practice where they churn and burn lots of files where you’re just a file and you may not even meet the lawyer or you don’t meet them until way late in your case, if ever. So you want to know who the lawyer is, it’s going to be handling your case. And ideally you want to be able to talk to that person. And then once you know who that person is, you want to know what their qualifications are. So you should be asking about how many types of cases do you do? Do you handle this type of case? How many cases like this have you had before? What other types of cases do you do? How long have you been doing this, those sorts of questions, what’s your success rate? You’re allowed to ask all those types of questions. How are you charging? Are you charging the same as everybody else? More or less, those sorts of things.
Speaker 2 (08:00):
I think you you brought up a very important several key and important points, but when you talked about with personal injuries specifically, a lot of times it is based on you don’t pay the attorney immediately. It’s the it’s it’s what the, the claim when the claim comes back,
Speaker 3 (08:19):
Correct? Yeah. So the vast majority, almost all of them are personal injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay unless we win. So it’s a percentage of the metric of the total recovery. And so that percentage can vary sometimes based on the type of case, based on the law firm that you’re talking to may charge more or less are they going to advance? Costs costs are in addition to fees, it’s a fee is what the lawyer gets paid costs are. For example, to file a lawsuit in the state of Florida is a little over $400. Is the lawyer going to expect you to pay that? Or it’s the law, the law office is going to pay that, and then there’s deposition fees and all sorts of other costs that come along separate from the fees where those are things that are paid to someone other than the attorney and usually personal injury law firms will advance those costs on behalf of their clients on personal injury claims.
Speaker 2 (09:11):
That’s something that a client should ask though, and look for that. They advanced those costs because I know those depositions can certainly add up.
Speaker 3 (09:22):
They S they, they very much can. I mean, if you’re going to take a case to trial, you’re looking at probably at least $20,000 in costs, if not more between all the different costs that go into it, a large percentage of that is often paying the doctors to testify once you’re actually going to trial. But even without that, you’re looking at typically a thousand plus dollars in cost on an ordinary case. So yeah, it’s a question that you’re gonna want to know, am I going to have to pay those costs myself, or is it something that the law office is willing to invest in the case, in addition to not getting paid until the back end to advance those costs? And if the answer is no, you may ask, well, why, and maybe it’s because your case isn’t as strong and they want you to put some skin in the game. And that may just be the case that you’ll hear from multiple lawyers, or maybe it’s the law firm you’re talking to isn’t as well-funded as a different law firm and a different law firm would do it.
Speaker 2 (10:10):
And you also said it’s very important to meet the attorney that could be representing you, because I do know sometimes when people do seek these attorneys, they’re not meeting the attorney, they might be meeting you know, a paralegal and assistant. And we certainly appreciate those people. We certainly do it. If you have someone that is going to be representing you, it is very important, right? To get that face to face.
Speaker 3 (10:34):
I know I especially appreciate those people at my office cause they make my job possible to do all the things that I do. But I know it’s in the buzz word of 20, 20, it’s essential in my opinion, to meet with the lawyer and be able to, to at least if you’re not meeting face to face, talk to that lawyer on the phone and you’re paying for a lawyer. So why shouldn’t you be able to talk to that lawyer? They’re going to, they’re not going to charge you a paralegal percentage rate on the contingency fee. They’re gonna charge you the legal percentage rate. So you should, if you’re hiring a lawyer, you should be able to talk to that lawyer and you should be able to talk to that lawyer on a fairly regular basis. I provide all my clients, my cell phone number, and I make a point to try and call them back. If they leave me a voicemail, usually within 24 to 48 hours. And that’s the only if I can’t answer the phone, which sometimes I can’t because I’m busy, but I try to answer their calls as much as possible, too.
Speaker 2 (11:25):
Very, very clear that you care about your clients and you care about the community. As we mentioned earlier, you can, because I want to transition into not only are you an attorney, you also wanted to get into the political arena and you ran for County commissioner this year. And I know that you put in a very good fight, but fortunately, you know you did not win this race. Not saying that it’s over by a long shot. You’re very young. So young, you look great. I mean, you have a huge political career. Could potentially, why did you want to run though? Travis for County commit?
Speaker 3 (12:02):
The big reason that prompted me to jump into the political arena was just to try and bring people together. There’s so much divisiveness. So Travis, did you feel
Speaker 2 (12:12):
That it was more important to run this year because of the unprecedented climate that we’re living in right now?
Speaker 3 (12:20):
Yeah, I mean, again, I guess that’s one of the main things that drove me into it was all the continued division. So I think that was part of what propelled me into it. And it wasn’t just me here locally. We had a full slate of people that ran that came out of a lot of them came out of the George Floyd protest that got involved after that. I had kind of announced before and we had a whole bunch of people that also decided to run for County council that had never run before and had a full slate for that, which is not typical for our area. And then we also had a contested judges race as well. So I think it was just to let people know that it matters that all the voices get heard and that with the results, I think we saw that it’s even more important to keep moving forward and that our country is so divided and there’s a lot of work to be done on both sides to try and reappear and remind people that again, we just need to get out from behind our computer screens and actually talk to each other and realize that we have more in common than we don’t.
Speaker 2 (13:21):
So your decision then to, to take on this political arena or go into politics was really based on what’s happening in the community. Like when, when you were a child, I know that there was a time where you want it to be an orthopedic surgeon, and then you transitioned that you had an injury, right? And you played football and you had, you broke a wrist in high school actually. And even played with a broken wrist.
Speaker 3 (13:47):
Well, I got a scar here to prove it, but
Speaker 2 (13:51):
Bless your heart. But I know that, that you transitioned from wanting to be an orthopedic surgeon and then, you know, moving into law with politics. Was that ever a dream of yours as a child or was it again because of the climate we are living in now?
Speaker 3 (14:07):
So I grew up in I was actually really re Republican household that I grew up in. My grandmother was an assessor and a real big GOP supporter, lots of elephants in our house, elephants slippers I would wear when went over to grandma’s house. And so we would joke a lot of the times about, you know, McConnell 2020 for president growing up. And it was something that was talked about. I did get a little bit involved in the political arena in college as well. So I studied after I decided I didn’t want to be an orthopedic surgeon switched became a political science major among a couple others. And I actually did an internship for the state Republican party. And then I did an internship at the Canadian parliament and did politics for a little while. And then I kind of, the more I got into it, the more I saw, you know, how the sausage is made, I guess, as they say and said, you know, maybe I don’t really want to do this either.
Speaker 3 (15:05):
And then I decided, you know, let me, let me, let me check out law school and see what being a lawyer is about, and then loved that and loved what I could do with that. And being able to help people and help people on a more direct level in the community. I think one thing that we see with politics is a lot of times politics is reactionary to what’s going on in the society. And isn’t necessarily an agent for change. It’s responding to changes that are already happening. So kind of got out of that and focused on that non-governmental sector focused on helping people directly working with not-for-profits. You mentioned the migrant workers earlier. There’s a big coalition of a mockery workers down in a microwave that I would do a lot of work with was still help them out as much as I can as well as several other nonprofits that I’m a part of. And one here in Warsaw that even started myself to try and inspire inclusion as our mission to bring everybody together.
Speaker 2 (15:55):
Well, it’s people like you that make the world a much better place. Certainly. with the loss though, of the County commission seat, what is the lessons in losing there? I, you know, are, do you plan on running again or what words of encouragement would you have?
Speaker 3 (16:14):
I mean, there’s certainly strategy things that you, when you lose you evaluate what could be done better, those sorts of things. But I think a, the big lesson and losing that people hopefully focus on is, you know, just persistence and, you know, people are like, are you going to, there was a lot of people like, Oh, how are you doing? How are you feeling? I’m, I’m, I’m fine. It’s okay. You know, w we might not have won the first time, but we’ll keep at it and be persistent and don’t give up you know, and the other guy that I was running against, isn’t a terrible guy and people know it’s all right, he’s going to do fine and we’ll keep at it and, and yeah, keep your sign. We’ll run again. So I think that the big lesson is just the attitude and the perspective of don’t dwell on the loss, think about how to move forward and go from there.
Speaker 2 (17:00):
And, you know, I know Ellie is only for your daughter, so, you know, at four years old, you may not comprehend as much, right. But will, is seven years old. So I think, you know, to show the strength that you have to your children, and of course your wife too, is, is important. Don’t you think to share that lesson with the young ones?
Speaker 3 (17:24):
Yeah, totally agree. And we, we, we try to have you know, life lessons try to instill values and the kids, we’ve got a list of values on the wall that we go over from time to time. And by I had a specific discussion with my son, well, after the election. And I don’t remember if he prompted it with a question about the election and losing him and it’s like, yeah, it’s okay. You know, we did not win. And sometimes you don’t always win son. And that’s important to know that can just keep moving forward. And that’s one of our values is perseverance moving forward. And, you know, to try and lead by example, to not only show them, you know, sometimes when you lose, you get upset and you kind of throw a fit, we don’t need to do that. We just need to keep moving forward. So
Speaker 2 (18:04):
I know actions can speak so much letter to than words. And what a great example that you are set, you know, setting for your friends, family, and the young ones. I just think it’s, it is so important, but you did say that you this is an over right. You do plan on running again.
Speaker 3 (18:21):
Yeah. We’ll run again. We’ve, we’ve got picked up and collected a lot of our signs. A lot of people held onto them and they put them inside and we let them know, keep them either in the next two or four years, depending on which districts I ended up in. So with redistricting this year, who knows which district I’ll end up in, but yeah.
Speaker 2 (18:40):
And will you pursue County commission again? Why County commission? Why is that particular seat so important to you? Or will you look at other open positions?
Speaker 3 (18:51):
I mean, I’m open to other positions, but I guess the reason why commissioner stuck out to me is they’re, they, they really have a lot of the power in the, in the County. So on a County level for people that don’t know there’s commissioners and council members basically, and the council is kind of the tight on the budget. They control the budget and the purse as it were, and the commissioners pretty much do everything else. So it’s kind of a quasi legislative, quasi executive. They have pretty broad powers to do different things. And the, the check and balances, again, like if, if the council doesn’t give them money, they can’t really do a lot of things. So they control the money. But beyond that, they have a lot of control to make things better. They do a big thing to me is economic development.
Speaker 3 (19:37):
And so that’s one thing that directly falls under the commissioner’s office to really try and spur economic development, continue to do things I’m going to a more rural County. There’s around 80,000 people total in our County where I live. And there’s a lot that can be done to make this a better place for the next generation, for my, you know, my generation and younger. And there’s a lot more that could be done for economic development to continue to draw people here. And that’s something that’s specifically controlled by the commissioners. So I think that’s one thing that appeals to me more is you’re able to do much more as a commissioner than you could in the other capacities, but of course being in any of it, there’s influence and input that being be given along the way. So, yeah.
Speaker 2 (20:26):
So until that political door opens again, you will continue to persist on helping all your clients.
Speaker 3 (20:36):
That’s correct. Yeah. And even, even if I win that door and that was something that I got questions on, what are you going to be able to still be a lawyer? And we can not still be a lawyer. It’s just, this’ll be my big community thing. I probably have to scale back some the other community things. But it’s not a full-time job. It’s probably a part-time job though, if you’re going to do it right. And so yeah, I, the, the legal thing continues whether I win or lose and that’s something that’s always going to be there. I truly love what I do. I have a passion for helping people, and I just love the I’m. I’m blessed with the ability to have a job, a career where two character, except my personality. I like to fight. I’m a fighter and fight in tough fights. And then I like to help people and I get to do both.
Speaker 2 (21:20):
That’s wonderful. So on your, on your podcast, we trust Travis, what type of topics can we expect as we move forward? And I just want to let you know that I am honored to be a part of it.
Speaker 3 (21:35):
Yeah, no, thank you for being a part of it and for helping make it happen. I think one big thing is I want to make sure that this is a way that we can provide information to people to answer some questions that maybe people are wondering if you have questions, let us know, and we can address particular areas, maybe. But I think another thing is just sharing some of our stories. Some of our clients really would like their stories to be heard. And this is a better way to get that out to more people. Well, where there’s something cathartic therapeutic about just having your story told for people that have been through traumatic situations to know that people will hopefully learn from it and the differences change what happened. That’s one thing that I love about personal injury law too, is sometimes people joke about if it wasn’t for the lawyers, we could still have a lawn darts and things like that.
Speaker 3 (22:25):
And we take away all the fun things, but it’s because we make changes in our society. We hold people accountable and we make sure that things are taken care of, make sure that people are taken care of. So I think what you get to look forward to is some of those fun stories about some of our cases that are pretty interesting. We have, we have cases about a gentleman that was smashed at the port of Tampa underneath a steel plate, and he can tell us his success story, where he really was in a rough shape and he’s doing great now. He’s, he’s an amazing man. And then we’ve got a big lawsuit that’s going on now, again, stop Pearson woods Academy. That is definitely going to be interesting. It’s kinda made the news here recently. It’s a terrible situation where there my client was abused at the facility by people there. And so that one, I don’t know how much we’ll be able to get to because it’s still in litigation. But definitely something worth exploring down the road and he definitely wants his story to be told. So, yeah,
Speaker 2 (23:31):
Well, absolutely. And we, we are appreciative to share your stories on, we trust Travis. We trust Travis is scheduled for every month, every fourth, Tuesday, and we’re looking forward to sharing your
Speaker 1 (23:46):
Story. Thank you so much, Travis McConnell. I’m Sarina [inaudible].
Speaker 3 (23:49):
Thank you. And look forward to speaking with everybody. And I’m sure that there’ll be more stuff about you know, if we get into politics again, the private stuff about that, and obviously our community involvement. So thanks everybody.
Speaker 1 (24:02):
Thank you to learn more about Travis McConnell, head to Travis MC law.com. Thank you for listening to we trust Travis.
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