Building a Life in Personal Injury Law
Personal injury law occupies a different space from other areas of the legal sector, with its own unique complications in bringing cases to trial. Speaking to us on the subject is David Kwartler, an experienced personal injury lawyer with millions of dollars’ worth of awarded damages behind him. Below, he explores the considerations involved in litigating personal injury claims and what attracted him to pursue his own practice in the sector.
You support clients through slip and fall accidents, motor vehicle accidents, and cases of wrongful death. How does the general settlement process vary between these three injury types?
Every case is different irrespective of its type. I often say to clients that every case is different, every insurance company is different and every adjuster within the same insurance company is different. Generally, the more complications a case has – such as cases with various defendants who could bear responsibility – would increase the time it takes for it to be resolved, which would generally not occur in car accident cases. Additionally, in slip and fall accidents and more complex cases the various defendants will often start pointing fingers at each other, which will also extend the time taken.
How do you help your clients receive full compensation?
We full-court press every case in litigation. We file defaults, preliminary motions and discovery motions as soon as possible to push these cases along. What we have found is that there is a percentage of cases that we press that settle quickly because we have put the defendant in a precarious position via a default judgment or motion, which gives us a great advantage moving forward in the litigation.
What makes a successful slip and fall claim?
Proving notices is the most difficult element of a slip and fall claim, meaning that most successful claims are ones where the defendant created the hazard and thus notice is waived. Unfortunately, that is normally not the case, so having pictures of the exact cause of the fall and witnesses really goes a long way for us.
For slip and falls in commercial properties where there is a chance of video capturing the incident, it is important for the clients to get to an attorney quickly so that a preservation letter can be sent. Most of the surveillance systems will erase footage after a certain amount of time so it is important to get to them before this occurs.
I often say to clients that every case is different, every insurance company is different and every adjuster within the same insurance company is different.
What factors commonly complicate a motor vehicle accident settlement?
Our offices are in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Those not familiar with the laws in these states may not be aware of the concept of a ‘verbal threshold’ or a ‘limited tort’. In a nutshell, they are injury and impairment standards often included in auto insurance policies that policy holders must then overcome to be compensated. For a verdict sheet it would therefore be another hurdle to overcome to get to damages.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to pursue a career in personal injury law?
Get as much court, deposition, arbitration, expert depositions and trial experience as you can, as quickly as possible. The better and quicker you understand how these cases will look at trial, the better you will be. At trial, the cases can often turn on something that happened in the pleadings or on a single deposition or interrogatory answer. Knowing that will allow you to set up the cases in the best positive light if they do go to the jury.
About David Kwartler
What was it that drew you to pursue personal injury law specifically?
I was initially drawn to personal injury because it was the first job I was offered and I needed a job. Once i got going in it, I realised that it was the practice area for me. I like the competitive nature of the practice, whether it is with insurance companies or defence lawyers. More importantly, to me, is the entrepreneurial nature of the practice. Everyone you meet is a potential client, and when you do a good job they will spread the word.
How do you strive to go above and beyond your competitors?
At our firm we like to say that we cause fires, not put them out. A lot of lawyers are scrambling to get records or file whatever motion, which puts you on defence throughout the case. We like to be on offence. Being on offence allows you to dictate certain elements of the litigation, which can result in higher and quicker resolutions. If the case does go to trial, being on the offensive puts you in position to take advantage of certain elements that occurred during the litigation in front of the jury.
Of your many career successes to date, which are you proudest of having achieved?
Beyond the cases, I am most proud of our staff development. Some of our employees had no legal experience or much work experience prior to joining us. We have grown those recruits to be highly valued employees with real careers.
David Kwartler, Partner
1429 Walnut Street, 14th Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA
Tel: +1 267-457-5570
David Kwartler is a partner at Kwartler Manus LLC who focuses his practice on prosecuting personal injury lawsuits. Over the course of his career he has successfully recovered millions of dollars in settlements for his injured clients in areas including motor vehicle accidents, slip and fall accidents and wrongful death claims. David also regularly sits as an arbitrator and Judge Pro Tempore in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Kwartler Manus LLC is a Philadelphia-headquartered personal injury law firm. The firm’s team have experience across a range of practice areas, from construction accidents to premises liability and wrongful death, and have recovered millions in damages for their clients.