“I have gifts and skills that allow me to help people who can’t help themselves. For me, that’s the core value of my law practice: Because I have the ability to help others, I must.”

Dave Kwass does not have the usual lawyer resume—some of his not typical credentials include a Master’s Degree in English Literature from Georgetown, a summer job at the FBI Academy, a bartender in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a brief stint as a member in an early version of the Dave Matthews Band (before they hit it big).

And after nearly seven years of doing insurance defense work for corporate clients at one of the big Philadelphia law firms, he joined Saltz Mongeluzzi to become a plaintiffs’ personal injury lawyer.

I’m defending medical malpractice and personal injury cases and thinking the whole time that if I were representing the plaintiff and had the funding, I could destroy this defendant.

As a defense lawyer, Dave felt like his clients were winning cases that they shouldn’t given the underlying facts about what they did (and failed to do). He thought the plaintiffs on the losing side would benefit from a lawyer with the financial clout to really invest in the case.

The only way to win these cases is to have more knowledge about the facts than the defense lawyers. So I trained to become a certified crane operator, a certified boom lift operator, a certified scissor lift operator, and also got qualified as a rigger and signal person.

Once he landed at Saltz Mongeluzzi he had an opportunity to develop the kind of well-resourced plaintiffs’ practice that he always wanted. And given Dave’s academic background, he was drawn to categories of cases that required very technical, detailed subject-matter focus—accidents involving cranes, aerial lifts and guardrails.

I spend way too much time across a dining room table with the widow of a worker killed on the job. I really wish the construction industry and safety regulators would get their act together and put me out of business.

Backed by a team of four associates and three paralegals, Dave’s practice has a national footprint. Most of his weeks are spent traveling around the country working on his own crane and lift cases—and partnering with other law firms that need his help with the technical aspects of the complex litigation that results from crane and lift accidents.

Nothing is more satisfying than being in another town talking with a family and telling them that I care and can help.

Construction equipment cases are not an easy road for the victims. The litigation typically takes between four and seven years to get resolved and, in the meantime, the employer and insurance company are blaming the victim, OSHA is blaming the employer, and the survivors are hearing rumors that the injured or deceased plaintiff is really the one at fault. The family’s normal life is gone and everyone is upset, angry and confused.

No one other than plaintiff’s bar can get to the bottom of these safety issues and reform the industry. No one else has the subpoena power or the time and money. The construction industry could put us out of business if it wanted to.

Education

  • Temple University Beasley School of Law, LLM, Trial Advocacy Program
  • University of Virginia School of Law, 1992
  • Georgetown University, MA
  • Haverford College, with honors

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