Choose a PI lawyer whose values match yours: Kotak
By AdvocateDaily.com Staff
Good communication, mutual honesty and shared values are the secrets of success in any lawyer-client relationship involving personal injury or disability, says Toronto personal injury and disability lawyer Nainesh Kotak.
“These cases last some time, and so the relationship needs to be based on some common values and understanding — that the client is being truthful and the lawyer is going to advocate as effectively as they can for the client,” says Kotak, founder and principal of Kotak Personal Injury Law.
“Our firm is very community-involved,” Kotak stresses. It’s been holding an annual military appreciation day event for five years, at which soldiers and cadets are treated to a Brampton Beast hockey game and refreshments in Kotak’s box, sometimes with celebrities such as Don Cherry. Kotak also sponsors the Wounded Warriors Canada charity and the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame.
“I think the fact we really care about people reflects on us when someone retains us — that we have that community spirit and want to dig into understanding what their concerns are,” he says.
Kotak has enjoyed 17 years of representing mentally disabled clients and attributes that to his approach to the community as well as to individuals. If clients don’t feel comfortable they will not be truthful with their lawyer about the history of their problem, be it depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress, he tells AdvocateDaily.com.
“Clients are often reluctant to share their whole story about where the mental illness began and how it affects them because of the stigma that still exists,” Kotak says. “We do know they’re coming to us because they’ve been denied a claim, their insurance company thinks there’s not sufficient medical evidence.”
He reassures them that their illness will be taken seriously, the right medical evidence assembled, that they will be kept informed about the progress of the case at all stages, and given realistic expectations.
“We have the ability to put our clients at ease when they come through the door, so they tell their story in its entirety, and trust that we are going to fight for them,” Kotak says. “Typically, we try to move those cases very quickly to resolution because the client does not have robust financial resources, and the longer they’re without money, unfortunately, the depression and anxiety are compounded.”
Kotak says he and an associate did a mediation a few weeks ago for a 28-year-old man who was not well- educated, had a stressful job and serious addiction and mental health problems, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“He often seemed spaced out. But we got a large settlement for him, and when we finished, I turned to my associate and said, ‘This is why we do it.’ You should have seen how surprised and grateful the young man and his father were. We made an important difference in their lives.”
The majority of disability cases are resolved through negotiation or mediation, not the court, Kotak says.
“For both my long-term disability and personal injury cases, we take pride in knowing we have helped clients through one of the more challenging periods in their lives,” he says.
His community work with military families sends a message that he cares about the well-being of all people, not just his clients, Kotak says.
“When people look for a lawyer, they search online and find our website, which says what the firm is about. They see our values.”