By: Marcia Giordano Hansen, Esq., The Hansen Law Firm, P.A.
When I began my career as an Assistant Public Defender, I knew that one day, I wanted to open my own law practice wherein I could help people with varying legal needs. I never wanted to hone in on one area of the law because I’ve always been a person who thrives on change and new experiences. However, I never thought that one of my favorite areas of practice would be personal injury law. Personal injury lawyers, to me, were cheesy ambulance chasers with in your face tv ads that were comical rather than educational. However, after four years at the public defender’s office, I moved on to work at an insurance defense firm where I came face to face with personal injury law while defending insurance companies. At this firm, I met many well respected, intelligent attorneys who represented truly sick and injured people that needed to be compensated. These attorneys taught me that a personal injury lawyer holds a very important role as the voice of a truly injured plaintiff against a large, intimidating insurance company. Thus, after moving on to practice commercial litigation and then white collar criminal defense, I decided I had gained enough knowledge to go out on my own and when I opened up my law practice, I was anxious to have my own clients, but most of all anxious to represent those with personal injury claims.
Since opening my firm, I have been fortunate enough to obtain several personal injury cases including automobile accidents, slip and falls and catastrophic incidents. What I have learned is that the first step to creating a successful personal injury practice is to accept the right cases. The “right” case has a combination of liability and damages. If this combination does not exist, there is no case. Liability and damages are two legal terms that are easily explained below.
Liability is when someone or something is responsible for causing another’s injuries. For example, if there is a banana peel on a supermarket’s floor and this banana peel is open and obvious to the employees of the supermarket who have done nothing to clean it up or warn their customers of its existence, liability exists, especially, if the banana peel has been sitting on the floor for quite some time. The banana peel is a danger to the customers and the negligence of the supermarket in not cleaning it up, creates liability.
Damages are personal injuries. These personal injuries can be physical or mental. For instance, using the banana in the supermarket example, if that person fell on the banana peel and got up scathe free, that person has no damages because they have no injuries. However, if that person who fell on the banana peel breaks his leg due to the fall, that person has injuries. A lawyer will then present to an insurance company all of the medical expenses associated with treatment for the broken leg and also provide a work up of how this broken leg will be treated in the future (i.e. physical therapy, future surgery) and make a summary of medical costs plus pain and suffering.
After taking that first step and signing up a client with the “right” case, what has been most impactful to me is that with each client, I take on a new journey. Of course, legally I learn something new with each case, but personally, the once “right client” becomes a person to me with a family, feelings, injuries, bills to pay, struggles, etc. This person looks to me as their lawyer, counseler, advisor and advocate. This is an important role that I do not take lightly. Thus, the monetary benefit at the end of a personal injury case is certainly helpful financially, but the icing on the cake is the smile on my clients face when they feel whole again and thank me for all my work. So, yes, I have become a personal injury lawyer, something I never thought I would be, but fortunately I can say I am proud of what I do and feel blessed that I can use my skills to help others in need. I promise though, you’ll never seem me in one of those tv ads….well, I guess never say never.
Marcia Giordano Hansen, Esq.
The Hansen Law Firm, P.A.
Personal Injury – Criminal Defense – Family Law
2525 Ponce De Leon Blvd., Suite 300
Coral Gables, Fl. 33134