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Chasing ambulances can lead to good


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POSTED: Saturday, May 02, 2009

The beginning of May is Law Week, a week that means a lot to me because I am a lawyer and proud of it. So before you start telling each other lawyer jokes let me tell you what it's like to be a real-life “;ambulance chaser.”;

It's true. As a work injury lawyer in Hawaii I spend hours chasing around trying to get my clients good medical attention so they can get back to work.

Sometimes my chases are successful and sometimes my work is agonizingly slow for me and my badly injured clients. I recently spent almost 300 days attempting to get medical treatment for a worker who broke his back in several places while working for an employer who did not have workers compensation insurance.

Guess which ambulance chaser pleaded, begged and screamed at the employer, the employer's attorney, the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Labor in an attempt to get them to take a more speedy interest in this man's suffering.

And guess who took repeated calls every few nights from this injured worker and his son as they reported the man's continued suffering, and expressed their disbelief that it would take officials so long to get the man medical treatment.

And guess which ambulance chaser is incredibly proud that he recently acquired an order from the Department of Labor that should finally get this poor man some treatment for his broken back.

Did you also know that we ambulance chasers regularly work together in an attempt to keep the employers' work injury costs as low as possible and that our mutual efforts directly promote an efficient workers compensation system in Hawaii? That's a goal worth chasing any day of the week.

And did you know that most of us are very involved in community activities in one form or another? In your communities, ambulance chasers serve neighborhood boards, athletic teams, church boards, etc.

Since I enjoy running the Honolulu Marathon each year and actually run to work every day, I have chosen to immediately report any dangerous conditions that I see at street level. That is done in an attempt to have those dangers removed before my fellow citizens are injured.

Have you heard the joke about the ambulance chaser who tries to remove dangers from our streets before persons have to file negligence lawsuits following personal injuries caused by those dangerous conditions?

During the past 15 years reports to my city councilman and the mayor's office have resulted in quick repair to over a hundred such dangerous conditions. And incidentally, the reason we ambulance chasers file lawsuits is to get people to remove dangerous conditions before someone else is injured, which makes our little worlds safer in the future. It's not just about the money.

The true life of an ambulance chaser is not romantic and it is surely not stress-free, but on days when I can catch up to an ambulance and get my clients good medical attention or work with an employer's lawyer to resolve a work injury dispute so as to save the time and money of all parties, I feel proud to be a lawyer.

Happy Law Week to all of you. And by the way, those lawyer jokes aren't really very funny.

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Attorney Joseph F. Zuiker represents injured workers in Hawaii.