It was an inflection point. “I felt like in order to do my job well I had to put my empathy in a box,” Bjerke said. Not anymore.
He’s one of many lawyers who look at the injury to the plaintiff and also to the damage to society if the wrong isn’t compensated appropriately, such as by providing a charitable donation or remedial action. For example, where a 4-year-old sustained a brain injury through faulty playground equipment at a national day care center, the family took less money so that the defendants would cure the playground problems. They followed up and received the experts reports on the playground and confirmation that the fixes had been made.
The clients were the “salt of the earth,” Bjerke said. Their biggest goal was to prevent other injuries.
Right now, the restrictions on the District Courts due to COVID have made settling cases or moving them toward trial very difficult. The absence of trial dates has made some insurers reluctant to negotiate, he said. “We’re just sitting here waiting for the dam to break,” Bjerke said.
But Bjerke does not blame defense lawyers. “I think it’s hard on defense lawyers. They are frustrated.” Bjerke and others at his firm, TSR Injury Lawyers, are committed to exploring actions against insurance companies who act in bad faith.
Bjerke now has 15 trials scheduled for when the courts open to civil jury trials again. One is a serious brain injury a man suffered at a power plant. He was up in the air on a scissors lift near a garage door when someone opened the door, knocking the man to the concrete ground. He is blind and requires 24-7 care at a cost of $60,000 per month. That is set for mediation soon, with a May trial date.
Despite COVID challenges, Bjerke is pleased with the move from the defense side to the plaintiff’s. “I’m so happy. I’m so happy,” he said.
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