In this situation, the clients are cruise ship crew members who have been injured or who got sick on the job. They are not American and in fact they are often from Central or South America or the Caribbean, and occasionally from Europe, India, Indonesia or the Philippines. They have been brought to Miami for medical treatment by the cruise line.
Two men start out on the same path to becoming lawyers. At the end of their journey they are both lawyers but the service they deliver is very different.
Lawyer A visits his clients or at minimum calls his clients weekly to check in to see how they are doing or if they need anything. He provides transportation for their visits to his office and offers a choice of beverages on arrival. The clients are seen promptly and he listens patiently as they explain their cases. He is empathetic. He provides them with phone cards so they can call their families. He takes them to do their laundry. He takes them on outings because he knows how depressing it can be to stare at the same hotel walls day-in and day-out. He pushes the company to send clients home during holidays or bring family members for visits if a long case. He stays on top of his client files to ensure he gets the medical reports and appointment notices in a timely fashion. He knows what is going on with your case and who you are by name.
Once he’s got you as a client he takes care of you until your case in finished.
Most of his clients don’t know what he looks like because he has never visited them or if he has they have only seen him once. And phone calls? Forget it! He avoids phone calls and doesn’t really seem to care how the clients are doing or if they need anything. He tells them to take the bus to his office for appointments because he doesn’t run a taxi service and would never think to offer you even a drink of water. He makes his clients wait some times an hour or more and when you do get to see him, he rushes through appointments as if the next case is more important. He seems to only be in it for the money and any display of empathy seems insincere. He doesn’t care if his clients can’t call home. He tells them to hand wash their clothes in the bathtub. He is too busy to take anyone anywhere and suggests walking around the neighbourhood as an outing. He doesn’t want to bother the company so clients could go home for the holidays and he doesn’t want spouses or other family members mixed up in the case. He is behind in record-keeping and often lets clients know about medical appointments after the fact. He asks questions he should know the answers to and “I’m sorry, what’s your name again” is a constant refrain.
Once he’s got you as a client he washes his hand of you until your case in finished.
Sadly, many crew members end up with Lawyer B representing them because there is often quick money to be made by signing up with Lawyer B. Often another crew member will recommend this lawyer to you for a $200 finder’s fee. It doesn’t matter that he is a terrible lawyer and an even worse human being. $200 is a lot of money when you are on medical leave because as long as the cruise line is providing food and shelter the crew member gets no pay cheque.
And some of these cases are life-altering. The cruise line has a responsibility to get crew members back to at least 80% of their pre-injured selves. Not all injuries can be fixed and in those cases, cold, hard cash and knowing that you may never have to worry about money again, is all that offers any comfort.
Beware! Do the research and choose wisely because, not all lawyers are created equal.
The voyage continues…