We Trust Travis Podcast 5 – 5: ASK THE EXPERTS! Priceless Advice If You Are Injured And Need the Best Legal Outcome

Saturday, July 31, 2021

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 you, We Trust Travis.

Speaker 2 (00:19):

Hi everyone. I’m Sarina Fazan. I’m a journalist, host, and producer. Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of the We Trust Travis podcast, Travis McConnell sitting right here as a personal injury attorney with a huge passion for the community, and he has a lot of insight to share. So let’s get started. Hi Travis. Thanks for having us. Of course. Thanks for, thanks for being here. All right. Introduced to us, Byron Broun, he’s a close friend of yours and also an attorney.
Speaker 3 (00:45):

He is so I don’t know about the close friend. I have known each other for several years. He does predominantly disability work. When I first met him, he was, had his own office and was doing that and he still has his own office, but we’ve worked together fairly often and I kind of share office space as it were. So,

Speaker 2 (01:03):

And this podcast, we’re going to focus on how, what types of law work together?

Speaker 3 (01:09):

Wait, what, with injuries. There’s so many different aspects that come into play where you might get injured on the job. So it’s a worker’s comp claim. Maybe you’re able to Sue somebody else. So there’s a negligence claim, and if it’s a catastrophic injury, we’re not able to work, then you can get disability, which is what Byron does a lot of disability work.

Speaker 2 (01:26):

So, and it’s very interesting to, and important to know all of these different types of laws and how they can intertwine together. But let’s talk about the personal side first on Byron, how did you meet Travis?

Speaker 3 (01:37):

Well, I met Travis about eight or nine years ago and I had opened my own office as he indicated. And I worked for an attorney who’d been around for quite a number of years, had a stellar reputation throughout the state as being one of the most prominent and aggressive workers’ compensation attorneys around. And Travis ended up taking a case from him. And if I recall correctly, this individual had RSD reflux, sympathetic dystrophy in his arm from being electrocuted. And Travis took the case and ended up getting this individual about $120,000 more than what my prior employer had been able to negotiate from the insurance carrier. I ended up getting that individual social security disability. So he had a level of trust with myself and with Travis that we then parlayed into a working business relationship to be quite Frank. I was floored that Travis was able to get that kind of a settlement over and above what had been on the table.

Speaker 3 (02:55):

And that’s a Testament to his abilities as an attorney, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve been around for about 28 years now. And Travis quite frankly, is in the top echelon of attorneys that I’ve ever come across. I don’t mean to make them feel too good about himself. So I give you the money, but it’s the truth. It’s the truth. And, and we share a similar background in as much as Travis, hasn’t done social security work, but we both did a lot of worker’s compensation work in the past. And we both are pretty good personal injury attorneys to be quite honest with you without patting myself on the back,

Speaker 2 (03:37):

You should Pat yourself on the back though, you, you know,

Speaker 3 (03:40):

But, but the loan and the short of it is we both bring a passion and intensity to our cases that has resulted in taking care of our clients to their satisfaction and you know, word of mouth sure. Beats spending $400,000 a month on TV advertising. So we’re happy with how we work together and we’re happy that we’re able to take care of folks from soup to nuts, for example you know there’s a fact pattern that arises that folks go to large law firms and they’re sent to this attorney who specializes in workers’ comp and that attorney who specialized in social security disability, and the third attorney that handles the personal injury aspect of of an accident and traps. And I are able to handle all three aspects of the case see how everything plays off each other and negotiate settlements on behalf of our clients that take their best interest into account for the timing’s important of everything too.

Speaker 3 (04:54):

And it’s important to communicate a lot of times, those three different attorneys aren’t talking to each other, we’re like Byron and I work pretty closely together. Talk to each other. You can make sure coordinate kind of like if you had three different doctors for different conditions or you want to coordinate your care and make sure you get the best overall result, you want them to talk to each other. And a lot of times, if you get three different attorneys, aren’t talking to each other, oftentimes believe it or not a workers’ compensation case can end up being more valuable than the personal injury case. A little personal injury attorney will grab the fast, easy money to the detriment of the client’s workers’ compensation claim. And you know, the client’s left holding the bag down the road. So things,

Speaker 2 (05:36):

Oh, no, no, no, no, go ahead. No, I didn’t. So I wanted to ask though, to go back when you guys first met, you know, eight or nine years ago, and you got 125,000 or more than was initially negotiated, how do you think you did that? Travis now put yourself, Pat yourself on the back. How did you do, how did you do it? I think the main issue on case that drove up the value

Speaker 3 (05:58):

Was the client needed some attendant care that had been neglected attendant care is where you’re at home. You’re not able to take care of yourself. You need somebody to come in and help with activities of daily living meal, prep, bathing, those sorts of things. And I think that was something I think that was left out. And so I had basically like got in an expert to talk about, Hey, this person needs this. It’s not being provided. And that drove up the value of the case substantially because attendant care is not cheap,

Speaker 2 (06:23):

Very expensive, but the fact that you knew or had the insight to pursue the attendant care, does that come from experience or is that an innate ability that you feel that you have? And again, please modesty aside. I mean, honestly, is this, is this something that you learned through the process or again, that, that you feel you have an innate ability?

Speaker 3 (06:45):

I learned about it through the process. I think that innate ability comes to actually like fight hard for it because workers’ comp in particular with the tenant care, usually overlooks it because they just take advantage of the worker’s family. While the time what happens a lot of times is workers will end up getting hurt and then their family will provide the sentiment and care. And so the doctors overlook the fact that it’s really needed and they don’t talk about it. And like, so you end up conferencing with the doctor’s saying, Hey, you know, what, if this person was single on their own, would they be able to take care of this? No, you’re putting all this extra stress on this family. And so I think that’s like recognizing it’s my innate, like really knowing my clients and getting to know them and caring about them and like finding that out.

Speaker 3 (07:25):

But what’s really going on. And then going to the doctor and being like, Hey, this is really an extra burden on this family. Could you at least write down that this is needed? And then the workers’ compensation system to the state, they have to the state of Florida, they have to actually provide a payment to the family member of the family members, providing that at least minimum wage, if not higher or they provide the attendance and say that the attendants is gonna come in and take care of it. I think another underlying factor that’s important is not selling your client down the river for the money that’s on the table, because you need the money to be quite Frank with you with all of you. Neither Travis nor I need the money we’re comfortable. We don’t have that boat payment or that porch to pay for, or the staff of 25 doing every little thing for us, both of us do just about everything in the course of the day.

Speaker 3 (08:24):

And because of that we’re able to say, okay, well, client, this may be in your best interest to put your file up on the shelf for 10 years, because neither one of us have a crystal ball as to how your physical and mental condition is going to deteriorate over the next 10 years because the medical picture has not yet really, truly settled. So tastes, I could be worth $200,000 at this point in time, as Travis indicated with attendant care or additional surgeries down the road could have a value of a million dollars. If the attorney just is not in such a hurry to get the case settled

Speaker 2 (09:07):

For consumers out there, what questions do you ask the attorney ahead of time to make sure that that does not happen, that they end up with an attorney, perhaps that isn’t a rush to settle? So what, what questions should they be asking? What should they be looking for?

Speaker 3 (09:22):

I like to give my clients the option. I always tell them, this is your case. You’re going to make the final decision as to whether or not you need to settle or go to trial. But there are two factors that are at play in every case, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t live inside of your body. So I don’t know what type of pain you’re truly in. Okay. And I don’t live under your roof, so I don’t pay your bills. So those are the two factors that determine what a client decides will motivate them to either accept or move on with their case.

Speaker 2 (09:57):

But how do they choose an attorney though, that knows, or as you talked about at the very beginning, Byron, that they can trust their attorney. Like we trust Travis, right. To make that decision for them or to help guide them in that decision and not push them into a settlement because the attorney is concerned about getting paid himself.

Speaker 3 (10:19):

I think one simple question might be a task that lawyer, how many clients do you have right now? Oh I bet because a lot of the attorneys that are churning and burning is a phrase that’s used to like continue to get the income coming in, to pay those big bills that they have to take care of. It’s, it’s kind of a volume practice. So if the answer to that question is a pretty large number, you’re going to know,

Speaker 2 (10:43):

What is the large number would you say? Or is that really hard to say

Speaker 3 (10:47):

Now I’ve got between 50 to 70 clients total other other firms probably have significantly more than that. But not all of them.

Speaker 2 (10:57):

No, but that’s a really good, because I, because I honestly didn’t know. So 50 to 70, you would say, if you, if there’s an attorney out there with 50 or 70, they potentially have the the focus

Speaker 3 (11:10):

Yeah. Or, or, or a number smaller than there may be some that are even more boutique than we are that actually have a smaller number. And then versus people that have hundred plus whether they’re the people that have a hundred push all the time, you’re not talking to the lawyer, you’re talking to the assistant. And then the assistant might be talking to the lawyer where the system is actually doing most of the case.

Speaker 2 (11:29):

And we talked about that in a prior podcast, that it is very, very important, right? Both of you that you talk to the attorney.

Speaker 3 (11:39):

Absolutely. I mean, you know, the communication you have with your client makes loitering that much easier. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not reading someone else’s synopsis and what the facts of the case are. I know firsthand what this individual is going through and what it is that they want to get across in terms of what they experience on a daily basis, in terms of pain, limitation, depression, anxiety, et cetera knowing your client allows lawyering to be that much easier, because you can convey those facts to a judge versus just reading something off of a summary.

Speaker 2 (12:22):

Well, you both said that you work on cases together and you made the analogy, which I thought was a great one earlier about the doctors. It’s like having three different doctors, then the doctors have to communicate. Can you explain to us what is the difference of the, is it just to, if you don’t mind explaining what’s the difference between personal injury? What’s the difference between worker, you know, workman’s compensation? What’s the difference between social security disability?

Speaker 3 (12:46):

Well, you want to take this or all tape, you know, let’s say someone is working for a company and they’re involved in an automobile accident while working, and it’s a horrible accident and they’ve sustained catastrophic injuries. Well, they have a workers’ compensation case obviously, cause the accident occurred in the course and scope of their employment because it’s workers comp, they’re entitled to two thirds of their loss wages, but more important they’re, they’re entitled to medical care, that’s causally related to the accident. And when I previously mentioned the workers’ compensation case might be worth more it’s because of that, right? To continued lifetime medical care for the accident under the workers’ compensation law. Now, if another third party is responsible for the accident, well, now you have a third party personal injury claim where that individual would be responsible to you or liable to you for your injuries.

Speaker 3 (13:55):

But that’s just scratching the surface because a good attorney like Travis, and I will also look into whether or not the company that you’re working for maintains a fleet policy and has uninsured motorist coverage, which would also be available to compensate you for your injuries. Lastly, assuming this individual again is catastrophic injured. They would potentially qualify for social security disability, which is a two-fold program. If you’ve worked five out of the last 10 years and you have an adequate work history, you would get what we call SSD, social security, disability insurance benefits which is based on what you’ve paid into the social security system. And you would get Medicare two years from the date. The judge finds you disabled. The other social security program is SSI, which is supplemental security income benefits, which is income and asset based. And basically as a single individual, you can’t have more than $2,000 in income or assets and you would get Medicaid basically from the get-go once a judge found you disabled.

Speaker 3 (15:14):

And that’s where we get into the issue of how the three programs interact and we can throw another added wrinkle into it. An individual may also have short-term and long-term disability through a private health insurance, private insurance carrier through their employer. And we may need to delve into that as well. In terms of are they entitled to short-term disability and long-term disability. And we worked with another law firm to secure those benefits for clients as well. The big issue is working with the different systems to make sure and maximize the recovery for their client. Because ultimately that’s, that’s what the client needs to take care of what they’re gonna need in their future, because now they’re not gonna be able to work. They’re gonna have all these bills, you need to maximize that recovery. And that’s where the importance is. And that’s where knowing how everything’s worked.

Speaker 3 (16:05):

So if you go to a car crash lawyer for this car crash, they may just tell you about the car crash and the person, the big issue with a lot of times, our worker’s comp cases might be worth more in the long run is because typically you don’t have to worry about insurance limits in a car crash cases. We all know you have to buy insurance. And there’s no requirement to have any liability coverage in the state of Florida in the state of Indiana. It’s 25,000 per person, 50,000 per accident. But so if the other side, the person that hits you doesn’t have any insurance at all, and then you don’t have your own uninsured motorist coverage. There’s actually no insurance coverage for your injuries. And versus workers’ comp is going to have to take care of everything. Or even if there’s a hundred thousand dollars on a policy, a hundred thousand dollars, we’ll pay for one helicopter ride. And only part of the hospital bill, if it’s a catastrophic injury. So that money is going to be gone like that. And you’re not dimable and worker’s comp will keep paying. We’ve had, I think the largest case I ever had was close to $3 million and it was like 2.75, and it was workers’ compensation settlement because they actually had to cover everything.

Speaker 2 (17:07):
So I have many questions. So say sadly, someone is going through this, you know, with, with themselves, with their family, of course they can’t communicate because they’re injured. Does an attorney when they go to an attorney’s office, should the attorney, how do you know that it’s the right attorney that can navigate all of these different areas that you need to investigate and that you need to get all the benefits. Are there certain questions that you need to be asking the attorney because can one attorney handle all of it or do you typically need to work with partners?

Speaker 3 (17:42):

Usually there’s going to be more than one attorney involved with the different areas. I think the key is having people that work together and then as far as making sure it’s the right person, attorneys have websites typically, and they list what they do on their websites. So do your homework be an informed consumer, you know, they don’t just call somebody you see on TV or that you see on the podcast you know, check me out, check out my website. It’s fine. You’ll, you’ll find the information and then ask the questions at the interview. So yeah, I mean, you know, about six years ago, everybody started putting their toes into the social security arena because they realized that they could make money. So a lot of the large firms that first advertised as being car crash lawyers are now social security, disability lawyers as well.

Speaker 3 (18:30):

And they’re opening up workers’ comp departments also. But the issue is, do you actually have experience practicing in all three of those arenas? I mean, personally, I’ve done in excess of 200 social security disability hearings. Okay. I’ll go to court every day if I have to, I enjoy going to court. So does Travis and, and therein lies another difference. A lot of folks are all talk, but when push comes to shove, can they think on their feet and can they go in front of a judge and can they convey the extent of the loss to a jury? And that’d be a question to ask people, how many cases have you had that you’ve taken to trial or taken to a final hearing? Because there’s some places that don’t

Speaker 2 (19:24):

Sure. So, no, I think those are great points. You, you bring up. So how many cases have you taken to trial? How many clients do you have currently? What are some other questions that we should be asking or we should be looking for when you said to look at the website, you know, what should be on the attorney’s website, what type of information should be on there?

Speaker 3 (19:45):

She’d say how long they’ve been practicing, what they do. And probably some other, just fun little details. But I mean, what you’re going to look for is how long they’ve been practicing and what they, what they do, what they say they do. And then there may be some other things to look at like reviews. You can look them up on Google and see if they have reviews. See if there’s good reviews, bad reviews. You can look up attorneys, you can also look up doctors, anybody who has a license, you can check it out, a license in the state that they’re licensed in and make sure there’s no disciplinary complaints. That’s something that I recommend for folks, especially before getting the surgeries. A lot of times people think about like, I’m gonna check out my lawyer. Cause I think we generally don’t trust lawyers, but everybody has this inherent trust with their doctor.

Speaker 3 (20:24):

But I had a case one time that I assisted somebody on a malpractice case is kind of going off topic. But the doctor on that particular case had under his knife had multiple people die. And his license had disciplinary issues on it. And then our client on that case, the person that’s helping with died under his knife. And it’s just like, you know, people don’t think like you can go check and see if there’s anything, you know, probably don’t go to the doctor. Who’s got the issues. It’s just somebody else. Speaking of doctors, one of the things I always like to try and find out surreptitiously is have they bought a large boat recently? Or are they in the midst of a divorce? Because I can guarantee you if they’re in the midst of a very expensive divorce or they just bought a hundred foot.

Speaker 3 (21:13):

Yeah. chances are you need surgery. You know, that’s, everybody has their own motivations and their own bias. So it’s good to find out if your doctor is someone who is going to be a straight shooter and tell you, Hey, you don’t need surgery. You may just be able to get by with pain management happens all the time. Some doctors are quick to cut. Others will run the gamut of conservative measures before they decide to do surgery. And it helps to know where the doctors are. And just to be clear that the vast majority of doctors are great.

Speaker 2 (21:54):

No, no, no, absolutely great doctors. I think the point though, that’s being made is that do your homework diligent in your doing your homework, find out just a few things. And believe me, I come from a family of doctors, right? So I know that their motivation typically is to take care of you to keep you healthy. But whether it’s a, whether it’s a journalist, whether it’s doctors, whether it’s attorneys, it doesn’t matter. You just need to do your homework. But let me ask you guys this, what if you’re a person like myself, of course, I’m researching all the time. You know where my job or you know, my projects, but when it comes to myself, the last thing I want to do is do the homework. Sure. Can you rely on your attorney to do the homework?

Speaker 3 (22:35):

You should be able to always say, I mean, if you’ve done the homework on your lawyer and you trust your lawyer in the night, you should be able to trust your lawyer, you know, have them do the homework. Sure. I mean, but there’s still a play. The client comes into play. I have there’s clients. A lot of times that will think hiring the lawyer is like the NLB on that. They’re not really involved in the process and it really is a relationship between the two. It’s not like I hired you. I get hired. And now I take care of everything for you. It is a process where I need you to participate in it. So it does take both, but yeah, I mean, I, you should be able to trust your lawyer for sure. No, but I think the number one, number one ethical rule for lawyers is you put your client’s interests before your own. There’s the number one rule. So for doctors it’s do no harm for lawyers. It’s your client comes first.

Speaker 2 (23:25):

I would ask them. So as far as, and I know this money is always very difficult to talk about. It can be a very uncomfortable subject bringing it finances, things like that for personal injury claims and for social security, disability claims and work workman’s compensation when they come to like you, is it typically based on what you get in the case for payment?

Speaker 3 (23:51):

Yeah. The way that the attorney fee works is it’s a percentage of the recovery. So the, for personal injury, typically it’s a third of anything prior to a lawsuit. If there are lawsuits filed, it goes up a little bit to 40% because now there’s more work involved. You’re going through the legal process. If the other side that admits fault usually goes back down again to a third cause now less work that goes up, goes down for workers’ compensation, the attorney’s fees are actually paid typically by the other side, if you have to fight the other side for them denying something that you should be given, then the insurance company actually has to pay the legal fee. In addition to what they owe the worker on the settlement. Again, it’s usually a percentage or sometimes an hourly basis on that sort of a claim. And then on disability, it’s the government pays me 25% of the client’s past new benefits and that’s how I get paid.

Speaker 2 (24:39):

So if so clients that come to you should not have to pay, they pay based. I’m just saying if, if, if you go to an attorney and an attorney says, okay, what about your checkbook? And you need to write me a $10,000 or whatever it is, and you may not have it. Why should that be a red flag?

Speaker 3 (24:56):

No, that, that, that should be a large red flag for either the fact that that’s not an attorney that you want to be with, or maybe there’s something wrong with your case is why they want you to put some skin in the game. But I wouldn’t think it’d be that much money.

Speaker 2 (25:08):

And I, you know, I threw out a large number out there, but if you to even write out any money, are you saying that

Speaker 3 (25:16):

Yeah, if you’re asked to write any sort of if you’re asked to contribute at all, especially if there’s no reason, then that’s a huge red flag. I handle my cases on a pure contingency basis. So unless I win your case, I don’t get paid. And I understand that folks were also reticent to pay the costs associated with our case. So again if I don’t win, you don’t own me. The costs all only collect costs if I win. So I’m very selective in what cases I take. But you know, I’m not going to hurt you financially if we don’t win. And usually if it’s a case that you don’t take there are some that you decline and, you know, you should tell the client why and tell them, you know, I think this is one maybe where this other lawyer might be able to help you and call them, or, you know, this is why I don’t think you have a case, but you’re entitled to a second opinion. But I’m not really going to necessarily recommend anybody because I really don’t think you have a case. But you can keep looking sort of thing. But really my advice is you don’t have a case

Speaker 2 (26:24):

Generally. What, well Travis, great to have you and your colleague and friend Byron Brown here, some great takeaways. One, do your homework. If an attorney asks to whip out a checkbook and payment, especially in these type of cases, there’s a huge red flag right there. Also a couple of questions always ask your attorney a potential attorney, how many clients that they might have. And so importantly, as Travis has also said, make sure it’s that attorney that is taking your phone calls and building that relationship with you.

Speaker 3 (26:57):

Yup. And then make sure you have somebody who’s willing to maximize that recovery. Cause that’s the big thing. Like worker’s comp disability, worker’s comp you get two thirds. If you get disability between the two, you can actually qualify for up to 80%. So now you get extra money and then maximizing the recovery for everything because you want somebody who knows how they work together. There’s different nuances here and there. If you settle this one first, then bad things happen over here. And there’s a whole synchronous.

Speaker 2 (27:20):

That’s why we trust Travis. Right? Thank you guys. So yes and Byron too, because, because Travis is in your circle of trust, right? So we trust Travis. Thank you so much, everyone for joining us for this for this episode.

Speaker 3 (27:34):

Thank you very much. Thanks everyone. Bye.

Speaker 1 (27:37):

To learn more about Travis McConnell, head to Travis MC Law.com. Thank you for listening to We Trust Travis.