by Kristin Cicciarelli | Contributor
Family is extremely important to attorney Robert Chaiken. Not only is he an involved father of two, he and his older brother Kenneth own Chaiken & Chaiken, P.C., a family-based law firm in Plano. And while they’re regularly involved in complex corporate litigation matters, they’re also passionate about representing individuals and families in serious civil injury matters, particularly those involving drunk or distracted driving and all kinds of injuries suffered by children of any age including fraternity hazing, school incidents and bullying.
The Chaiken brothers’ commitment to family doesn’t end in the courtroom, however. They also spend their non-working time educating others through organizations such as the Young Men’s Service League (YMSL) on the significant impact of civil injury matters on both defendant and plaintiff, including the extreme dangers for both sides of being involved in these heinous activities. “It’s not just the roads where our kids are getting hurt. It’s important that everyone understands the legal ramifications of injuring a child,” Chaiken says. He’s also the Texas representative for the Child Injury Network, which is a network of attorneys across the country dedicated to protecting children.
Interestingly, Chaiken’s career didn’t start out on this path. His first job out of law school was at a large Fort Worth corporate defense firm, often representing product manufacturers in personal injury, catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawsuits. His defense work opened his eyes to the impact these types of cases can have on plaintiffs, particularly families. “When I left that firm and went out on my own, I just felt more comfortable on the ‘other’ side,” Chaiken says. “Because we operate on a contingency fee basis for our injury claims, we can help a broader range of clients including those with limitations due to physical (injury-related) or financial resources.”
Since its establishment in 1998, Chaiken & Chaiken has evolved into a full service crisis management practice, quickly getting behind new and existing clients by obtaining or documenting evidence, making necessary phone calls and marshaling all appropriate resources. “Unfortunately, crisis is sometimes inevitable,” Chaiken says. “Serious injury and wrongful death cases are particularly sensitive, often involving grief, raw emotions and the need for medical attention.” These smart, efficient and trustworthy lawyers handle everything clients need from a legal standpoint, “so that they can get back to what’s most important—taking care of themselves and their families.”
When asked which cases have impacted him the most, Chaiken says there have been several, and most have been similar in terms of issues: “The ones that really get you are the senseless injuries, such as those involving drunk or distracted driving—things that didn’t have to happen if a little extra planning or attention had been applied.” Distracted and impaired driving also occurs when drivers, even commercial truck drivers, are fatigued from working too many hours. While he believes that nonprofit organizations such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have made tremendous strides in creating public awareness of the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, we have a long way to go when it comes to distracted driving, typically caused by texting and talking on cell phones. “Most people believe that drunk driving is evil, but we don’t apply the same stigma to texting or taking a selfie while behind the wheel—and I see people doing it all the time. It’s absolutely just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated,” he says.
Because so many teens and tweens now have cell phones and many of them drive, the statistics for distracted driving injuries are increasing at an alarming rate. If you’re a parent, what can you do to stop this unwanted, growing trend? “We need more dialogue with our kids. Talk to them about it regularly. Remind them that in today’s technological world, it’s very easy to determine when a driver is using his cell phone, so don’t think that if there’s an accident, they won’t get caught. Get them to sign a contract stating they won’t text or talk and drive before you hand over your car keys. Instruct them to put their cell phones in their glove compartments while driving and if they need them for GPS, let a passenger navigate directions if possible,” Chaiken states.
Perhaps the most important thing parents can do to increase awareness is to set a good example. Examine your own driving habits and be honest about them. Always let your children see you pull over to answer a call and text. Practice what you preach, without exception. “Many of our clients become like extended family members to us,” Chaiken says, “and we want them enjoying their own for many years to come.” Standing up for kids like they were their own—that’s the hallmark of this truly compassionate law firm.
To learn more about Chaiken & Chaiken, P.C., visit www.chaikenlaw.com.