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Don’t Leave Money on the Table (By Failing to Prove All of Your Client’s Damages)

By: LtGen Dennis M. McCarthy, USMC (Ret) – (dennis@themilitaryexperts.com)

On any given day, there are more than two million of our fellow Americans serving in military uniforms. Half of them are on full time active duty and are usually clustered around one of the 70 or so major military installations. Those in the other half are located in every city and town, serving in the National Guard and Reserves.

Demographically, these two million men and women are young – most are under 30 and very few are over 40. They are fit, athletic and tend to be willing to take risks. They drive cars, ride motorcycles, and use products just like their fellow Americans.

Financially, they are reasonably well paid; have tremendous health insurance; and are eligible for one of the few remaining lifetime defined benefit plans – one that is government-guaranteed, inflation adjusted, contains spousal protection, and includes guaranteed continuation of their health care benefit.

The combination of the facts cited above means:

  1. Sometimes these service members get injured in mishaps that have nothing to do with their military service – car wrecks, motorcycle crashes, product failures, professional negligence. Just like clients who come to your office every day.
  2. If their injuries are severe enough, their continued service in the Armed Forces may be jeopardized. Injuries that would not be disqualifying in the civilian world may have much greater consequences to a military person.
  3. When a service member’s military career is affected in some way, the economic consequences can be enormous.
    Lawyers who fail to recognize these facts may be doing their clients a severe disservice. Failing to recognize the financial impact of a lost or diminished military career – for whatever reason – means you have left money on the table. And recognizing the loss is not enough. Like any element of special damages, lost military compensation must be proven by competent evidence.

At Military Experts we believe there are some things every plaintiff’s lawyer should be doing:

  1. Look at all the files pending in your office to find out if any of your current clients are members of the Armed Forces – or were at the time of the mishap that brought them to you. (Hint – the ones you are most likely to have missed are those who serve part-time in the National Guard or Reserves.)
  2. Make it a practice for all new client intakes to ask if they serve in the Armed Forces in any capacity. (You can go to our website themilitaryexperts.com for a set of questions you may wish to add to your intake forms.)
  3. If you identify a client who may have lost military compensation or opportunity, call a military expert to determine the best steps to take to evaluate the possible losses. (We would love to help, but if you don’t call us, call someone. Give your military client to full representation they deserve.)
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