Father-daughter duo Steven Campen and Samantha (Sami) Manganaro are Urbana attorneys with a new, “out of the box” approach to personal injury law.
“We’re taking a very different approach to value cases,” Manganaro said. Instead of the multiples of medical bills that usually guide discussions with insurance adjusters (offers are usually double the medical bills for injuries, triple for permanent ones), Manganaro and Campen have begun to argue cases on how the injury has impacted a client’s life. They ask clients, “How is your life affected? How are you feeling?”
Manganaro carefully crafts her settlement demand packages to insurance companies. “Once you have all the medical records and all of the bills, I meet with my client and I say, ‘What has the effect on your life been?’” Then she writes a letter that tells her client’s story. “You know your client, and it’s your job to communicate to the insurance company … that they’re a human being, they’re not some number that you can put multiple medical bills on. … This is a human being. This is this person’s story.”
“Multiples of medicals guide the conversation,” she acknowledged. “Some people want to settle for those numbers, but we tell them they don’t have to.”
Manganaro’s mother, Emily Campen, a retired Frederick County Public Schools teacher, supports the firm with research and practice management.
Manganaro was recently recognized by The American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys (AIOPIA) as one of the ten best personal injury lawyers in Maryland for highest verdicts and settlements. She has negotiated multi-million-dollar settlements and won multi-million-dollar verdicts for her clients.
Manganaro credits her father, who has been a personal injury attorney for 40 years, as both inspiration and mentor. “Dad is an innovative guy, and he has always been the type to battle the insurance companies,” she said. “He’s a fight the bully type of guy. That’s his whole thing and that is what I have been trained up to do, and any strategy that will help our clients is the strategy we’re going to use to get them what they are due.”
Despite being captivated by her father’s work growing up—”I loved going and watching the trial, it’s exciting,” she recalled—Manganaro initially pursued her love of the arts. During her 12-year marketing career, she lived in the Baltimore area and worked for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. While working there full-time, she would “walk down to the University of Baltimore” to take classes at its School of Law, also full-time.
Her initial thought was to combine her two passions—the arts and law. “When I got out of law school and passed the bar, I just jumped ship from my marketing job and opened up an office in Baltimore,” she said. “It was a good decision to get started, but I figured out very quickly that working in the arts and for nonprofits is actually all transactional work because you’re doing a lot of contracts, you’re doing a lot of negotiations. The fact of the matter is that it’s not me being creative. It’s the creatives being creative and me doing contracts.”
Four-and-a-half years ago, her father needed help on a big case. “A little boy’s mom was killed in a car accident, really tragic … so I went ahead and helped him on it, and in working that case with him I was like ‘Oh, my gosh, this is what I have been wanting to do.’ Litigation and trial work are so much more stimulating. … You have to be on your toes all the time and you have to be well prepared—that’s a huge part of trial work and a huge part of settlements.”
In April 2015 she became a partner in her father’s firm. She finds fighting for her clients immensely rewarding, especially when she can guide a client to a bigger settlement. Insurance companies’ starting numbers are often low.
“A client will come in and say the insurance company offered me $10,000, that sounds like a lot,” she explained. “And we look at them and say, ‘Oh, no, no, no, they’re manipulating you. … (They want people to accept the lowest possible amount) and early because somebody that has a bulging disk or something like that and they’re only two months into treatment and I know from my other cases that that is a permanent injury, $10,000 is nothing for that. … If you don’t get surgery, you’re in pain for the rest of your life.
“Honestly, one of my favorite parts of this job is when an insurance company makes a low-ball offer. They call and they say, ‘OK, well, I’m going to offer you this amount of money, $10,000, and they say all these things in their toolbox like it’s a soft tissue injury … or there’s not enough damage in the auto accident. … They try to use all of these things to say this case isn’t going to be worth much. So, one of my favorite moments in all of this practice is when I can come back to them and say, ‘You’re totally wrong,’ and in that moment I know that they know that we’re not pushovers.
“You be respectful to them. You say respectfully, ‘We know the value of cases.’ I’m only in this five years, but I have a great mentor and that is my Dad who knows the value of cases. And I now know, too, because he’s trained me well.
“So I say, ‘You know what, I’m going to be respectful with you by telling you you’re wrong and my client is not going to accept that’ and we are going to work our hardest to get the most for our clients that we can possibly get for them. … It’s our job to tell them what it’s worth.”
Campen & Manganaro is located in a historic building, 3409A Urbana Pike, across from McDonald’s. Visit www.personalinjury-md.com for more information.