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Let’s say you were involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. When you arrived at the emergency department, the very skilled hospital staff sprang into action. They used their orthopedic skills to stabilize any visible signs of injury. They monitored your bodily functions. They set your broken bones. They stitched your lacerations. However, even the best surgeons and

medical equipment money can buy, cannot operate on, stitch up,or otherwise cure a seemingly invisible injury like a concussion or a traumatic brain injury.

Unfortunately, these types of invisible injuries affect the things that make life worth living, including the ability to participate in and enjoy our work, to communicate and to express ourselves, to engage in intimate and other

social relationships, and to pursue personal hobbies and interests. To further complicate things, the full extent of an invisible injury may not make itself known for months or even years after the physical trauma has healed.

Personal injury clients often find themselves in these life-changing situations through no fault of their own. At least in principle, the purpose of pursuing a legal action after a serious car accident is to secure a high enough settlement to return the client to, as close as possible, their pre- accident state. Success in attaining this objective depends on the experience, commitment, and passion of their advocate.

Steven Florendine, a lawyer with Davidson & Williams LLP, has specialized in personal injury litigation since 1999, first in Texas, then in Montana and now in Lethbridge, Alberta. Davidson & Williams LLP was established in 1885, before Alberta was even a province. Good or bad, Steven sees his job as taking whatever facts he is given, and presenting them in the most favourable light for his clients. “I can deal with any set of facts,” the personal injury expert says.

With several multi-million dollar recoveries in his clients’ favour, it is important that Steven’s clients have convenient access to a comprehensive range of other legal services, such as real estate, estate planning (important with settlement funds), adult dependency etc. All of these legal services are available in-house. “ Clients’ appreciate working with a ‘one-stop- shop’ and that Davidson & Williams LLP can attend to all of their important legal needs,” Steven says.

With close to two decades of personal injury law experience, Steven has earned a reputation as a traumatic brain injury/concussion subject matter expert. His knowledge is deep as well as wide. He is always on the lookout for testifying experts that can help him get his injured clients the support they need to maximize their recovery.

“It is my job to know the good, the bad, and the ugly about my clients’ injuries. I research the medicine involved, and know how to explain it in everyday language. Perhaps that is why so many of my clients have told me that they learned more about their traumatic brain injury from me than they did from their doctor. I often validate something that they suspected but had never had confirmed by a medical professional. I have even had several situations arise when it was clear to me that, given the symptoms,my client was not being completely diagnosed,” the personal injury lawyer says.

“I take as much time as necessary to explain the nature of my clients’injuries to them and to their family members, who also play a critical role in their recovery. I am honest about what their medical providers conclude about their prognosis and advise what medical experts commonly state they can expect in the months and years ahead. Because I’ve been doing personal injury law for so long, I know what treatments are available, what is coming down the road, and where my clients can secure the type of help they may need,” he adds.

In addition to his accessibility, Steven’s clients describe him as compassionate and empathetic, two words that do not normally roll off the tongue when describing a litigator. Perhaps that is because he has had family members suffer from the life-altering effects of traumatic brain injury as a result of bad car accidents. More than anything else, this experience gives him insight and perspective that another lawyer might not have.“A brain injury is an invisible injury. The brain-injured person might look OK, but they’re often not. I know what it takes to get the person up in the morning, to get them dressed, to make phone calls, and to go to their medical and legal appointments, because I’ve lived it. I understand how frustrating and difficult things can get, which is why I include the families in some discussions,” Steven says.

Steven has represented both the insurance companies and those who have sustained personal injuries and has mounted successful cases for both client groups. Regardless of which side of the table his client sits on, he knows what evidence he needs to present to win, and / or in the case of a defendant, to minimize the size of the award. He consistently combs through medical journals for the latest findings on concussion, traumatic brain injury, and other serious injuries, and includes all of this information in his case documents. This gives adjudicators the confidence that his clients’ claims are based on medical facts, not on exaggeration or spin.

“I have taught intensive client advocacy seminars that stressed the importance of evidence gathering and advocacy. I see my role as bridging the chasm between my clients being seen by the courts as ‘claimants’ rather than just as ordinary people. My clients aren’t ‘claimants;’ they are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. I love the power of language to advocate on my clients’ behalf and I take pride in my ability to be my clients’ voice. Language is so very important to not re-victimize them,” Steven says.

Client satisfaction is one of Steven’s key drivers. Clients deal directly with him and his assistant Christa (Steven described her to me as one of the most competent assistants in the province). Every client has the ability to reach him after hours. “I know my clients are relieved when they don’t have to wait until Tuesday to get an answer to a question they asked the Friday before a long weekend,” he says.

“I appreciate the fact that my clients’ traumatic injuries have made them feel scared, stressed, and probably depressed. I do my best to avoid adding to their troubles. I encourage my clients to go on living their lives and to let me worry about their claim. I care about my clients as people and want to build relationships with them. I am gratified that many of these professional relationships turn into personal friendships that last long after case is closed,” says Steven.

These are not just empty words or a convenient PR slogan. One of his clients said, “Steven, thanks so very much for all your help and hard work.You took a difficult, dark situation and turned it into sunshine. My friend, I am forever grateful.” Another said, “…(Steven) had a way of making each part of the process easier for me, even times when I was a mess and in tears, he could find a way to make it all just a little better for me to handle…

”Steven has two teen aged kids, a son who has fully recovered from a bad concussion (and who now plays for a high-performance baseball team), and a daughter whose passion is horseback riding, who is herself recovering from very debilitating injuries from a collision.

Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category

Steven D. B. Florendine, Personal Injury Lawyer

Davidson & Williams LLP

501 - 4 Street South in Lethbridge, AB PO Box 518, Lethbridge, AB T1J 3Z4 Phone: (403) 328-1766

501 - 4 Street South in Lethbridge, AB PO Box 518, Lethbridge, AB T1J 3Z4 Phone: (403) 328-1766

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