Zarzaur Law: Keeping our Community Safe One Case at a Time
30A Review article
By Mary Welch
To Personal Injury Lawyer Joe Zarzaur, there are two things: keep the community safe one case at a time; and the numbers. For community safety: since the onset, his practice has been 100% dedicated to personal injury and wrongful death cases. For the numbers, there is a list. The number of board certified civil trial lawyers in the state of Florida (one percent). The number of dollars he believes is a fair settlement for his client (the highest was $9.3 million against a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson). That’s his bottom-line point of view. And it’s worked for his clients.
Zarzaur, who heads Zarzaur Law, P.A. in Pensacola, is a personal injury lawyer who only takes on cases that involve serious personal injury or wrongful death. He fights for his clients to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve from those who do not take responsibility for their actions.
“I believe in quality, not quantity. I don’t want to work on every case,” he says. “I don’t take every case that comes in the office. I want to make a difference. I want to make things safer and if I can, I’m not going to let a client settle for a quick deal.
“Look, we’re enforcing community safety rules and they’re important. We want to make an impact and help our injured client make their life just a little better.”
Zarzaur is an AV Rated, Board Certified Civil Trial Specialist and recognized as such by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy; a distinction that he shares with only one percent of Florida Lawyers. To be board certified, an lawyer must pass a series of tests, among having 14 jury trials and recommendations from judges and other lawyers, that recognizes an lawyers’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law, professionalism, and ethics in practice.
“You have a handful of lawyers certified to do this work but you have hundreds more advertising for these cases. The Bar provides a way to discriminate and help educate people on whom they should hire. Most people hire someone because of a bunch of billboards. People must do due diligence before hiring a lawyer,” he says. It makes little sense, he says, since all personal injury lawyers, regardless of background, record, and professionalism, generally charge the same fee — a percent of the settlement or, in case of a loss, no money. “It’s like walking into a store and the Rolex is the same price as a Timex. And, you choose the Timex,” he says.
Zarzaur’s biggest jury verdict came after almost eight years of litigation. He attained one of the highest injury jury verdicts in Escambia County history against a little known company known as Ethicon Endo Surgery a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson. The verdict was $9.3 million, which was upheld on appeal. He also followed this verdict with other multi-million dollar jury verdicts and hundreds of million in settlements. “I think that once you get your first multi-million verdict, you know you’re doing the right thing. You know that this is where you should be,” he says. “That was my ‘Ahha’ moment. There’s only a handful of lawyers who have gotten verdicts over $9 million in Florida.”
Zarzaur is in the right place, something he knew since he was in high school. “I knew I wanted to be a lawyer and the idea of being a trial lawyer and in a courtroom was attractive to me.” He first gravitated to criminal law but found that was not his passion. In the end, he realized his talents and heart was in the personal injury side of the practice. “You have to find something that you’re good at and that you love. I don’t care what profession. Find something that makes you want to spend 10 to 12 hours a day doing nothing but that. And, if you’re OK with that, then do it.”
Zarzaur, who is also licensed in his home state of Alabama, says that appearing in front of a jury is a blend of tactics and performance. Rarely do you see the behind the scenes work put in by “Perry Mason”, “Aly McBeal”, or the gang on “Suits”. “I don’t like to think that when I’m in front of a jury that it’s ‘acting.’ But everything must be thought out — every movement, every word. The jury has to relate to you and your clients and if they think you’re acting you’ll lose. But, at the same time, if you don’t present your case in a fashion that is conducive to them, your client’s message may get lost in the mix.”
It’s a fine line; but one that Zarzaur recognizes. Bottom line, he is a lawyer passionate about the community, safety, and getting his clients what they deserve. And isn’t that what anyone would seek in a lawyer?
To reach Zarzaur Law PA, call (850) 444-9229 (Pensacola) or (850) 424-3236 (Destin). You can also go to www.zarzaurlaw.com.
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