You can watch a video on this topic called, “How a DBA Case Begins,” on the Garfinkel Schwartz YouTube channel.
We’re here today to talk to you just a little bit about the intake process about new clients signing up and what you might expect.
So Brian would you like to take it from here?
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
Clients From Kansas to India, Iraq, Thailand and More
We get calls from around the world. E-mails from people who don’t speak English. India, calls from Kansas, we get calls from everywhere. And although your case may be in a different state than the beginning stages. I’ve gotten calls and we have clients who decided to change attorneys after speaking with us. I’ve had ones that called me two days before trial. We’re willing to accommodate anything. And where there’s a will there’s a way.
But generally speaking, what happens is, we have a website obviously, that you know of since you’re watching this video. We’re proud of our website and we have an 800 number or a way to directly e-mail your concerns and I will get them.
The Intake Process Begins With an E-mail or a Phone Call
What happens is we have an answering service that’s on 24 hours a day. You patch a call into the 800 number the answering service answers it live 24 hours a day. It then gets dispatched either to Doreen my paralegal or to myself immediately in that order.
We Call You Back As Soon As Possible
After that happens if none of us is available let’s say it’s nine o’clock at night, we both get e-mails instantly sent from our answering service with information to contact you back. Normally speaking I contact people back probably within ten minutes from getting the thing that rings on my cell phone the little ding thing that rings on my cell phone. And if you put your phone information or e-mail information in one of the two of us Doreen or I will get back to you unless it’s a holiday pretty much instantly.
Tell Us What Happened
What happens after that is either Doreen or I whoever is available first basically goes through the scenario of what happened to you or if it’s a wife or loved one what happened to their spouse. We take calls like that all the time as well.
What happens then is we evaluate the case and ultimately you’ll speak to me at the end of the day because I on behalf of the firm need to make the decision of taking the case or not.
We Let You Know If We’ll Take the Case
The reason that’s so important in our area of the law is that we’re not paid by the hour and we’re not paid by a percentage. The only way that our firm gets paid is separately through the Department of Labor based on our hourly rate and the hours we spend if we get you a benefit.
So it’s the process in which I’m not being rude about it, but I have to feel confident that your case is good enough for me to get you a benefit before I take the risk with you and our firm spends the resources with you to go forward.
And at that point we’re pretty much family. We’re in this together. If you don’t get your benefit I don’t get any money and if that happens more so than not, we’re not in business.
Personalized Intake Process
So that’s the reason the intake process is very personalized, I don’t delegate that to anyone because it’s basically you know it’s my responsibility in the firm that our cases are viable and that I can get benefits for our clients.
Basically what happens after that is we have an intake package that’s sent out.
The Intake Package
The intake package consists of the retainer agreement that gets sent to the Department of Labor entering me as your lawyer, and that’s called an entry of appearance that gets sent to the Department of Labor right away as soon as you sign the document.
Statement of Client’s Rights
We also have a statement of client’s rights which gives you your rights under basically Florida law and then more generally Federal law. But it just basically tells you that I have the burden of explaining to you what the attorney fee structure is, how it works, when you have to pay me which is basically never. And it just asserts that you can cancel the contract if you’re not happy. You can contact me with more information that you might need from the law firm or my credentials or things like that.
Medical Authorization & Signed Intake Package to Begin
Thirdly there’s a medical authorization form that’s sent out so that we can start getting the medical information. Once we receive that and obviously our goal is to use e-mail as best we can with scanning documents and faxes. For you to get us any of the pertinent information that we need to start your case. Where the case stands whether it’s at the beginning of the matter or at the middle of the matter, what things have been filed if any. What notifications have been given to the insurance company.
After that I decide that your case is viable and that we should help each other with this, I give it back over to the paralegal Doreen. She sends you the intake package any way that you want to have it sent to you.
As soon as we receive it it goes to Bennett. Bennett’s job starts then. So I’ll hand it back over to Bennett.
Medical Patterns, Timeline of Events, Treatments
So when I receive the medical documents what I’m looking for are patterns, are diagnosis, are ways for which I can help Brian prove that your injury is as a result of your employment with your contractor from the Department of Defense. So what I’ll look for are specific keywords or specific diagnostic techniques that your physicians have already used.
I’ll look at the medical screenings from and prior to your employment overseas vs. your medical screenings afterword or the incident reports from the injury. And what I’ll do is make a comprehensive list of the timeline of the injuries of the events. How you sought treatment, where you sought treatment and these will be very important for the litigation process for Brian to be able to convince the Department of Labor that the case is worth going forward within an informal conference.
DBA Attorney Brian Wiklendt Handles Litigation
And once Brian again takes over the litigation aspect because I’m not an attorney, nor am I a physician but I do have background training in emergency medicine treatment and I do have background training in psychology.
So what I’m able to do then is to help clients because as Brian said, once you sign up for us, we consider you part of our family. And one thing that’s very important to me is to finding you the best doctors who available.
Personally I’ve had five spinal surgeries and I’ve had chronic pain for a long time. So I can very much relate to a lot of our clients that are suffering from either chronic pain or from psychological illnesses because they’re very very difficult things to go through.
Your Job: Get Better
Our Job: Get You Benefits and Backpay You Deserve
And we believe that your job is to get better. Our job is to help you with the legal aspect. Brian’s job is to convince the Department of Labor and your insurance company to give you the benefits and the backpay that you deserve.
And what I do additionally is I look for physicians in your area that have the best training, the best cutting edge treatment. Sometimes I’ll call them in to interview them. Sometimes I’ll help you schedule an appointment. And discuss with you possible routes of treatment which will get benefits for you hopefully to be covered.
So we’re looking for you to get the best medical treatment in your area and that’s what my job is here.
Interview Process as Long as it Takes
In addition to that once we get through the interview process together which may take a couple of minutes up to a couple of hours depending on the severity of the illness and what’s going on with your loved one or with you.
Garfinkel Schwartz Pays Medical Evaluation Costs
We do advance the cost of an evaluation if we feel that it’s medically necessary and you do not have insurance or other means of getting that.
Our firm has made it a policy to advance the cost of an evaluation. Normally those are not medically related in terms of physical side because you probably have received emergency treatment from whatever country you’re in or wherever they sent you.
The evaluations that we’re talking about normally have to do with some sort of mental defects, traumatic brain injury and most likely PTSD.
So if we talk together and everyone’s willing, we do find mental health physicians that we can rely on that will help get you at least an evaluation.
And if the evaluation comes back and you don’t have PTSD then that’s fine. That’s not a problem. We don’t ask for you to pay us the money. We pay for the evaluation to get you at least the information that you need to go forward.
After that stage happens litigation occurs an informal conference is then set, which has to be set. That’s with the opposing counsel or the opposing adjuster or the case manager on your file which is either the employer or most usually an insurance company who have most probably denied at least some or all of your medical care and or payments, indemnity payments.
We have to go through that process because the Department of Labor has a neutral person that’s a claims examiner that’s over top of the process of the informal conference and acts as a judge however their decision is not binding.
So what happens after that is we still have issues on either side that haven’t been ironed out at that informal conference.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
Then we file and we try and we get a hearing with the administrative law judge. And with that comes discovery, depositions and those other things that have the case go forward, make the case go forward so we can prove our claim and narrow the issues down to when we go to the judge we’re confident we can get the benefits you deserve.
And from time to time Bennett and Doreen will assist me in trying to get the information that we need from various sources. Some easy some hard. Some foreign hospitals very difficult to get records. VA hospitals, VA very difficult to get records and that’s their job they hound everyone they know everyone. That’s a big benefit of our firm because in the firm, this firm has been in existence for so long whether it’s by retirement or death, basically combined we know everyone that deals in this type of law.
Everyone at the Department of Labor. We know the general doctors that you’re sent to. We know the insurance companies, attorneys on the other side. And it really helps to get documents through faster or favors to be made to get things that would more likely be very difficult to get and so that’s what we do here.
We’re a team here we have combined efforts. We have other people that can help us if we need to. And we’re always here to help in any way we can.
If You Don’t Have a Case, We’ll Tell You
And if we don’t think you have a case we’ll just tell you straight up and because that’s just kind of what we have to do in our area of law to get paid.
And it’s a very big benefit to you in terms of that and it’s a big benefit to us as well. Once we’re comfortable with your claim and knowing that you have been denied the benefits that you deserve.
Anything else Bennett?
You Never Pay a Dime
Yes, well one thing you’ll never have to pay us a dime ever so it’s always worth calling us up and having a conversation to see if you have a case. And if we decide that you do it’s a good idea to move forward with us because as you said we have the experience and the networking to really add to the benefit for this very specialized type of federal litigation. Most lawyers are unfamiliar with Longshore Harbor Workers Compensation Act and the Defense Base Act Law which is again under federal law. It’s different than state worker’s compensation.
And I think that hopefully that answered some of your questions about the process of becoming a client here at Garfinkel Schwartz. This is attorney and lead counsel Brian Wiklendt and my name is Bennett Garfinkel and I’m Brian’s legal assistant and I’m also the medical researcher here at Garfinkel Schwartz. Not a doctor not an attorney but I do a lot of the supportive work here.
So we hope this answered your questions and we appreciate your time and hopefully you can give us a call.
Everything You Say is Confidential
I have one more thing to add, even if you don’t sign up with the firm, everything that you say is confidential. Whether you talk with Bennett or I or Doreen or someone else in the firm it’s all completely confidential attorney client privileged information even if you do not sign with our firm.
And if you don’t sign with our firm, I would urge you to try to seek legal help because in this area of law you really truly need a lawyer on your side and it doesn’t cost you anything.
With that in mind signing off this is Bennett Garfinkel and Brian Wiklendt from Garfinkel Schwartz here in Maitland Florida. We also have offices in Cocoa Beach we also have clients all across the country and the world.
Thank you for listening take care, thanks.