Putting people first
Peter Tragos isn't interested in accolades. It's an interesting position for an attorney who has accomplished so much.
In law school, Peter was an award-winning member of Florida State University's Moot Court Team. As a practicing attorney, he received the prestigious "Rising Star" designation from Super Lawyers and earned the nation's top 1% honor from the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. He is also ranked among the nation's top attorneys under the age of 40 by the National Association of Personal Injury Attorneys, and at 27 years old he became the youngest person ever to be named partner at Tragos, Sartes & Tragos.
But when asked to give his greatest career accomplishment, Peter didn't hesitate: "Helping hundreds of people get their lives back on track after experiencing a serious car accident and being strapped with thousands of dollars of medical bills."
Throughout our interview, Peter consistently directed the focus away from his impressive resume of accomplishments and toward his clients—and his desire to help people injured in serious accidents.
His concern for accident victims is genuine and was perhaps most evident when talking about John Graziano.
As many who follow the news will remember, John suffered a traumatic brain injury while he was in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by Hulk Hogan's son. Working on the case impacted Peter significantly. "His family is amazing," Peter says. "We became close throughout the process. Fortunately, John continues to make miraculous improvements."
As a trial attorney whose practice is dedicated to representing individuals involved in car accidents and other catastrophic injuries, Peter has a deep appreciation for what personal injury victims go through— not just the pain of their injuries or the stress of watching unpaid medical bills stack up, but the challenge of having to endure litigation just to force someone to do the right thing.
"The victim can start to feel like the accused as a case moves forward," Peter says. "Every detail they describe is scrutinized. The insurance companies dig into their past and hire private investigators to follow them around. When we win a case, there's nothing better than seeing our clients feel vindicated."
Indeed, helping those injured feel vindicated is what ultimately drives Peter.
"The most rewarding part of my job is being able to tell my clients that their case has settled, their bills have been paid, and they can use the extra settlement funds to get their lives back on track. I have always wanted to help people who aren't able to help themselves."
Peter understands that personal injury practice, perhaps more than any other area of law, is about people. And he has some advice for those injured in an accident who might be considering hiring an attorney – whether it's him or someone else.
"The initial consultation is a chance to interview the attorney," Peter says. "Are you going to get that personal touch from the attorney? Is a staff member going to handle the majority of your case? Is the attorney going to be available to talk to you about your case or will you be chasing them with every question you have?"
The empathy Peter feels for accident victims is obvious in the passionate way that he talks about them. But something else starts to become apparent the more you speak with Peter.
He is competitive. He likes a good fight.
"I always loved sports," Peter says. "But I wasn't skilled enough to play in college. Being a trial attorney is the next best thing. The adrenaline that runs through your veins before starting a trial, it's like Friday Night Lights. I love what I do because I get to help people, and I get to compete at the highest level."
If he wasn't a lawyer, Peter said he would be a real estate agent. "I love a tough negotiation."
But let's get back to all those accolades for just a moment–even if Peter doesn't want us to–because, frankly, they're impressive.
Here's a look at just a few:
- 2017 Super Lawyer "Rising Star"
- Nationally ranked Top 10 under 40 by the National Association of Personal Injury Attorneys
- American Society of Legal Advocates Top 40 Litigation Lawyers Under 40
- Ranked "Top 1%" in the nation by National Association of Distinguished Counsel
- Received the O'Ryan Law Firm Constitutional Law Book Award
- Recognized for outstanding pro bono service
- Winner of the CACJ National Trial Advocacy Championship
- Winner of the Best Oralist award at the Tulane Mardi Gras Sports Law Competition
- Winner of the Wooden Tie Award at the State Attorney's Office for Best Jury Trial Win
How does he manage to accomplish so much?
"Starting fast is important," Peter recommends to young attorneys like himself. "For those just starting out, read everything you're given, buckle down and work hard. Don't look for an easy way out if things don't fall into your lap. Work hard and you can make it."
And when it comes to successfully litigating a case:
"You have to treat every case as if it were going to trial, even when only 1% of cases actually go to trial. At our firm, we over-prepare in order to be ready for anything."
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Peter's favorite fictional attorney is Harvey Specter, arguably the best-dressed, hardball man on television from the television show Suits. "He's a closer and has the respect of everyone around him."
The same can be said for Peter.