Block, Klukas, Manzella & Shell - October 2018

October 2018 815-726-9999 | THEBKMS BULLETIN

Nothing to Be Scared Of How Lawyers Deal With Fear

I loved Halloween as a kid. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are getting out early in grade school to put on my costume and go out trick-or- treating with my friends. Though my candy-hunting days are long past, my kids are still young enough to like trick- or-treating, so I enjoy creating special Halloween memories with my kids. I even dress up with them! Last year, I was Ken Bone, the man who made a splash at the 2016 presidential debates. If you don’t remember who that is, I highly recommend Googling it. He was a funny guy, and I had a great time with that costume. Today, I still enjoy the fun and make- believe fears of Halloween, but when fear is the theme of the holiday, I am reminded of the very real fears our clients face. We handle a wide variety of cases at the firm, but they all boil down to personal injury or workers’ comp. In these kinds of cases, the biggest fear clients face is financial stress. In workers’ comp cases, which are my specialty, benefits can be cut off for any number of reasons, and this fear constantly weighs on my clients. And in both workers’ comp and personal injury, clients are often afraid their insurance won’t get them the medical attention they need to successfully recover and return to their lives. Jury bias is another problem we face when working on personal injury cases. Insurance companies have conducted

powerful PR and marketing campaigns to turn the general public against personal injury lawsuits. Take the infamous McDonald’s hot coffee case, for example. Although the victim of that case needed skin graft surgery after being badly burned by scalding coffee, the insurance company managed to spin the story so much that most people believed the whole case was a scam. When the narrative is reframed to turn the public against “frivolous” lawsuits instead of looking to see if the insurance company is doing the job they promised to do, juries question the legitimacy of the injury before they even get into the courtroom. Our clients have to deal with many fears, but there’s usually only one solution: Face them head-on. It’s our job to have a good strategy for every case. One of the

other partners at the firm, Tom Manzella, recently taught a course on depositions at the college and discusses how to do just that. We need to be at the top of our game every day, working with insurance adjusters and staying in contact with the opposing attorneys to make sure information is flowing both ways. We have to be ready to fight to get workers’ comp benefits reinstated, persuade a jury to grant clients the settlements they deserve, and help take care of our clients until they are well enough to return to their lives. When it comes to workers’ comp or personal injury, there’s no such thing as an irrational fear. But when you have a good team behind you, there’s really nothing to be scared of.

–Brya n Shell

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