How Settlements Can Impact Clients’ Lives

Thinking Big: Attorney Tom Mortati discusses how settlements of varying sizes can have a major impact on the life of an injured client, and why helping a client secure those settlements is meaningful for him as an attorney.

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So, I want to talk to you about the impact that cases and settlements can have on different people’s lives and different scenarios, and two specific cases that I handled in the last few years. One of these cases was a medical malpractice case where I obtained a record-setting verdict in St. Lawrence County some years ago, almost seven and a half million dollar settlement verdict, excuse me.

You know, I went and met with my clients many times during the life of that case. And this was, of course, life-changing money for these people. But more so than normal because they literally at the time of all of this that transpired, they lived in what I can only describe as literally a shack in the woods in the middle of nowhere. Parts of that house had a dirt floor that was covered with a piece of plywood. That was the type of place they lived in.

And as a result of the verdict that we got and the resulting settlement from all of that, it changed these people’s lives forever. I mean, something very bad happened to them that we can’t fix. But, you know, I was able to make sure that they would be taken care of for the rest of their lives through the settlement of that case after the verdict.

And to this day, my client, he calls me almost every two weeks, and that verdict was three and a half years ago now. And we handle all kinds of cases here at Harding Mazzotti. We have very big cases and we have other cases that aren’t as big, but the impact on people’s lives can be just the same. And I’ll give you an example of another case that I handled it, around the same time, and it was a car crash case.

Nothing particularly dramatic about it in a sense. But, you know, our client, I think she had a net settlement of about $50,000 coming to her. And while that was certainly drastically different than the millions of dollars we got in this other very significant case, for her, that was life-changing money, just as it was for these other people.

And I didn’t really appreciate it until I met with her to bring her her settlement check. And she was in tears, literally in tears, and hugging me, explaining, “You don’t know what this means to me.” And I honestly didn’t at the time. And I said, “Tell me.” And she said, “This money for me, this is gonna let me get my own place. I’m gonna get out of the abusive relationship I’m in and move out into my own apartment. I’m gonna get my own car so I can get to and from work, and I’m gonna finally live my own life.”

And that was perhaps the greatest thing for me as an attorney. The greatest part of our job here is that we get to change people’s lives. I mean, people come to us because something bad happened to them. They either had a car crash or a malpractice situation, it could be something else.

And we’re not medical doctors. We can’t cure people. We can’t fix them in that regard. But we can go out and try to get them, the compensation that they deserve to help make their lives better and change that life for the better, and hopefully for the balance of their life.

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