Another San Antonio personal injury lawyer joins us to talk about a case that was joint ventured between his law firm and Hill Law Firm. The case involved the partial amputation of a finger at a day care. A young child lost part of her finger due to a danger on the premises.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real-world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real, and these are the cases we handle on a day to day basis.
Justin Hill: Welcome to this episode of Hill Law Firm Cases. I’m here with one of my great friends, San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyer, Sean Luchnick. He practices law on the north side of San Antonio. He’s a young lawyer, but I wouldn’t say he’s inexperienced or not knowledgeable. He knows what he’s doing. To his credit, he is not somebody who’s too bold or too brazen to think he’s got a lot to learn. He’s here with me today. We’re talking about some cases we’ve worked together.
At this point, we’ve probably worked 10 to 15 cases together, and if you really take it out from when you interned with me, we’ve probably worked 30 cases together. It’s great to have him on to chat some cases. We talked previously about a case, probably the first case that he had a lot of hand in working with me, and we’re going to talk about another case involving a daycare injury, and I’ve talked about it before on this podcast. Let me just ask, it’s always great to get a fresh perspective from a young lawyer.
I remember the first time somebody asked me to represent them about their child being injured. I felt this very profound sense of weight and headiness to that. That’s a real serious thing. To this day, anytime somebody asks me to represent their child, I still feel a very bizarre responsibility. I feel it in all my cases, but when somebody’s putting their child’s injury in my hands, it’s just a different thing. Did you feel anything different when you were reached out to by that family that we represented together regarding that daycare case? Was there some sort of emotional response that you had that was abnormal or new or different?
Sean Luchnick: Well, first off, I want to say thank you, Justin, because you said I was a great friend of yours. You’re a great friend of mine. I appreciate you didn’t just say as a good friend or a colleague. That made me feel good inside.
Justin: I mean it.
Sean Luchnick: Onto your question, sometimes it’s hard. You always want to try to put yourself in somebody else’s perspective. I don’t have children. The closest thing I have to a child is a dog.
Justin: You have 10 dogs.
Sean Luchnick: I have about four, but if you count my parents’ dogs, you could say I have 10 dogs that I’m family members with. My firstborn, Bear, I care for him greatly. I couldn’t imagine how it would feel if there was an injury to Bear and it was because somebody else maybe wasn’t doing their job the way they should do. They weren’t abiding by their standard of care.
Justin: We don’t want to marginalize children with dogs. There’s a whole different perspective when you have children, which at some point, you will have children. There’s a headiness to somebody calling you and telling you they’ve got a child who’s been injured in a grievous way. We had a child who had part of her finger chopped off. That’s a real serious call. It’s got to create some sort of emotional response in you. What was your first reaction to that?
Sean Luchnick: My first reaction was someone who was a friend of a friend. Again, I even had to tread lightly myself because we’re attorneys but we’re also counselors. When they’re asking us stuff about the merits of a case, I don’t want to, in any way, downplay what happened to their daughter because it is a horrible injury. Again, the photos were incredibly graphic. Even when I was communicating with the client, I wanted to be as compassionate as I could be and really try to let him know I’m there for them and I have their back and I’m on their side, the whole way through on this thing.
Again, like I said, I was trying to see how I would feel if it was my daughter that it happened to, and it is very hard. You have to navigate the waters, and make sure you’re saying the correct thing, and make your client feel like you have their back and their interest, and you got to do all you can, especially, whether you’re a young lawyer, old lawyer, when you’re dealing with somebody’s child, you want them to feel like you would represent the case as if it was your own child. I think that’s very important. You’re not trying to make the client feel that. It’s how you feel as well.
Justin: You better feel it if you’re doing what we do.
Sean Luchnick: Yes. If you’re going to take that fee, you better treat it as if it’s your own family member.
Justin: Yes. This is something I describe to people a lot. I say there’s plenty of people on the internet who will take your case, there’s very few people, internet or not, who will do right by your family and do right by your case. I got to meet with those clients. They were friends of a friend of yours. We worked that case together. I remember when I spoke to him for the first time, both parents wanted to be involved which was fantastic. It’s always good to have clients who are very involved. For a lawyer, it should be intimidating because you know you’re going to have your feet held to the fire. At the same point, it’s what you should feel. It’s what you should want to do.
We worked that case. I remember one of the things they first told me was they were very concerned about their daughter’s health and how she was and all those things, which you should be. Another thing they told me was that one of the teachers called them and said, “Hey, we knew we had a problem with this door. This door had a problem. The door would close too fast. It didn’t have soft closing functions.” All of the things that could have prevented this injury did not exist in this case.
You would have heard that story before I heard that story. What triggers in the mind of a lawyer who hasn’t worked those types of cases before? I remember all of my firsts as a young lawyer, like all of these things, the first time I got this call and thought, “That’s an interesting issue.” That was clearly your first daycare injury issue. When you got that case, there was some point you decided to work with me on the case. What was your thought process?
Obviously, you weren’t one of these lawyers that says, “I got a boat to buy.” You wanted to make sure you get the best result for your client. What was your thought process on, when I was in your shoes, I wanted to make sure I learned and I wanted to make sure I got the best result for my client. What did you go through whenever your client gave you the details of the facts of the injury of the young daughter?
Sean Luchnick: Well, aside from thinking what legal theories we could recover under and how I could help them, I did have to separate myself from the situation, because a little bit about my background, my father’s a personal injury attorney. All my exposure to the industry has pretty much been in car accidents, things of that nature. When I saw this, the fact that I was blessed that I got to work with you, you are a very dynamic practice. You take a wide array of cases. You take any type of injury law you do and then some.
I don’t know that you’ve had a daycare case before, you probably have, but I know this was something right up your alley, and I said, “It’s in the best interest of this client of mine, and it’s in my best interest from a learning perspective, would be to team with you, and we could do this together. I can learn a lot. It’s going to help the client out.” Like we talked about before, when you’re treating a client like they’re a family member and you’re trying to do something to better their interests, or you’re thinking about them solely in every decision you make, I don’t really care about the fact that maybe I could represent this person and I could keep the entirety of the fee.
Justin: Sure. “Never trust a lawyer that’s got a boat payment,” is what my first boss said.
Sean Luchnick: Absolutely. Thank God, I don’t have any boat payments yet. For me, it really wasn’t about what the ultimate recovery in my pocket was. It was just about the ultimate recovery for the client. I knew it was a no brainer to team with you, and like I said, it’s going to help me out as well. I think when I first worked for you, the first year, I wasn’t even trying to get paid. It was all, for me, whether you were gracious and did take care of me, and certainly, you did that.
Justin: You didn’t get paid.
Sean Luchnick: You did bonus me a few times.
Justin: Okay, fair enough.
Sean Luchnick: Let’s just say, I wasn’t looking for that. I knew that it was way more beneficial for me to learn under you, as opposed to getting money in the short term. So it was a no brainer. We teamed up. We met the client. We went through everything. Of course, I learned a lot on the case. Of course, maybe one day I could handle a case like that on my own, be self-sufficient. Either way, I don’t really know. I think even you as a lawyer, I think there’s just certain cases where it’s always better to have another colleague.
Justin: I think the important thing is know your limitations. Just because you’re not sure it’s a limitation, if you think somebody can provide a better result for your client, then you owe it to your client to get them the better result. On that case, I think we provided the better result working together as a team, as opposed to you, maybe, handling it alone, and I personally work cases sometimes on a team with another lawyer I bring in because I think it’s a better result for my client as well.
We worked that case. It was the daycare injury case. She had a finger partially amputated. She had a fantastic recovery. Early on, we filed a lawsuit. Once we got involved, the other side reached out and they wanted to find a result because nobody wants to defend a case against an injured young lady. It’s one of the best cases I’ve worked over the last few years because I got to work with you. Like I said, you’re a great friend, but I might downgrade you. I don’t know. Well, we’re still figuring it out. We’re going to have you back on, we’re going to talk about some more things.
Sean Luchnick: I would like to say one last thing though before you end it. Because of that, she did have a very quick recovery, which, thank God, it was a lot better than we thought because it was brutal, they couldn’t even sew it up because of infection-
Justin: A bad infection yes.
Sean Luchnick: -it was an open wound. I think the fact that teaming with Justin, we got on the case, we worked it very hard from the beginning of the case. It was one of these cases where it was going to go to trial if in a year we filed suit. There was a lot of pressure upfront on the insurance carrier and the daycare to get this case resolved.
That benefited, because if another attorney would have sat on this case and not put in the time and effort to get it done, for a year out, and you look at this girl’s finger, and you can’t really see anything wrong with it because it healed, the case value diminishes greatly. I think we really helped the client out, not to give us–
Justin: You have to know how to posture, and protect, and prepare your cases the best for the case, and sometimes that means a lot of early pressure, sometimes that means you got to put some time in between because your clients are still treating, right?
Sean Luchnick: Absolutely. It wasn’t a case to where I could say, “I’m sure I could’ve done the case on my own,” but it wasn’t in the client’s interest for me to learn this area of the law to push forward. I knew you were going to get on it right away, and we could team up, and I can learn a lot. It was in the best interest of the client-
Justin: We did.
Sean Luchnick: -and it was a favorable result, I believe. I was happy about it, and I’m glad I teamed up with you.
Justin: We’re going to work some more cases.
Sean Luchnick: We are going to work some more cases.
Justin: That does it for this episode. We’re going to have Sean back on. He’s a dynamic young lawyer who’s going to be part of this industry for a long time, and he’ll be part of our story, hopefully, for a long time as well.
[00:11:43] [END OF AUDIO]