Growing up, Thomas (“Tommy”) Murphy had a front-row seat to watch the wheels of justice turn. His father, Tom Murphy, was sprinting to the courthouse to help injured Montanans before Tommy learned to take his first step.
“My father was an attorney, so growing up I was able to see how his work helped others, especially those in greatest need, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
It wasn’t long before Tommy turned from observer to participant.
During his time at the University of Montana School of Law, Tommy interned at a well-respected workers’ compensation law firm. He also took part in a clinical program where he provided a range of legal services to low-income individuals. Tommy credits both experiences with cementing his desire to use the law to help others.
Tommy graduated from law school in 2014 and accepted a position at the Murphy Law Firm.
As a young practitioner, Tommy was immediately troubled by the fact that large insurance companies could force injured plaintiffs to undergo invasive independent medical examinations (IMEs).
In addition to the invasive nature of the examinations, Tommy was disturbed by the fact that IMEs hardly seemed independent, given that the physicians conducting the IMEs were paid by the insurance companies, testified on behalf of the insurance companies, and—in most cases—had a longstanding relationship with the insurance companies.
With fighting for injured Montanans in his blood, Tommy took the insurance companies to the mat and won several cases that helped limit their ability to force injured plaintiffs to undergo invasive IMEs.
Thanks to Tommy, an insurer’s right to an IME is no longer absolute. Rather, an insurer must have sound reasons for conducting an invasive examination in Montana.
What’s more, insurers must now authorize treatment before they’re entitled to conduct an IME and must continue paying wage-loss benefits if there’s a dispute over the conditions of an IME. Further, insurers are no longer entitled to multiple IMEs simply to bolster their positions.
Though reining back an industry practice he found unfair was satisfying, Tommy is far from content. He continues to fight and win both personal injury and workers’ compensation cases, including a recent lawsuit that resulted in more than $1 million in damages being awarded to the family of a client who lost her life in a tragic motor vehicle collision.
“We are more often than not our client’s last hope to get their lives back on track. Whether it be that the insurance company denied their benefits, they lost their job, or they can’t afford to pay for the activities of daily living. It is so rewarding to get involved in these cases, and help individuals and their families.”
Working with injured Montanans
It’s clear to anyone who talks to Tommy that he’s an empathetic person. He recognizes that injured plaintiffs often feel isolated and he understands why they might sometimes feel like they’re doing something wrong by filing a lawsuit.
“There’s a perception that individuals going through these cases are faking or malingering. I can honestly say that I’ve never represented a client I thought was faking his or her symptoms in an effort to recover money. Every client I’ve represented would gladly give back any monetary reward to be able to walk without a limp or to be able to see their loved ones again. It’s not about money. This is a misconception promulgated by insurance companies.”
Tommy hopes that young lawyers understand the importance of listening to their clients.
“My advice to young attorneys would be to always remember it’s all about your client. Remember to listen to their individual needs and wants as they will not be the same across the board. You will never be a great attorney if you don’t understand what your client needs and wants.”
Advice for potential clients
Not all areas of law are created equal. Tommy urges potential clients to find a law firm that specializes in the area of law where they need help. A real estate attorney, for example, won’t understand and adequately address the unique issues that crop up in a personal injury or workers’ compensation case.
In addition, nearly all complaints Tommy hears about attorneys and clients involve attorney-client communication. As a consequence, Tommy urges potential clients to find a law firm that prioritizes prompt communication.
Interested in having Tommy Murphy and the rest of the Murphy Law Firm on your side? Learn more below.