Joseph Babich knows that the personal injury cases he takes on are often like David taking on Goliath, but instead of using a slingshot against his adversaries Babich draws upon his deep well of professional experience, his native intelligence, and his ability to form connections with people -- whether they are clients or members of a jury. His success can be measured not just by the outstanding verdicts he has won for his clients, but by the recognition from his peers in the legal profession who have given him the top ratings possible for both his legal skills and ethics, including "Lawyer of the Year" in Sacramento in 2013.
Babich has represented thousands of individuals and families during his 37-year legal career. The wisdom born of experience has taught him what works and what doesn't, and he has obtained multimillion-dollar verdicts for clients who have suffered injuries or loss. He knows that courtroom theatrics don't win the day; rather, it is the human connection made with clients and with juries that bring about the best outcomes.
In one recent case, he represented a woman who had the misfortune of driving on a bridge in Sacramento when a counterweight collapsed, crushing the front end of her car and causing serious injuries. The woman, a mother of four young children who was also a late-stage cancer patient, had not been expected to live more than a few years before the accident. After it, those final years would be filled with additional pain and suffering.
Traditionally, actuarial charts that look at earnings based on life expectancy are used to calculate awards but Babich, who himself is the father of four children, knew how critically important the woman's final years would be to her and her family. "I just put myself in her position. I was trying the case not only for her, but for her kids," Babich explained. The challenge in that case was to argue that pain and suffering damages based on her limited life expectancy with cancer didn't tell the whole story. To convey the depth of her loss, he introduced at trial photographs of the woman coaching her children's sports teams to show her active role in their lives just before the accident. The jury got it, he added. "I was very pleased with what the jury awarded her," he said.
Today's juries are tightening up on pain and suffering awards, principally due to several notorious cases that have been retold so often that they are far removed from the facts and more in the realm of urban myth. Faced with such challenges , Babich believes that being a good listener helps him get to know his clients in order to create a genuine picture for a jury what the client's loss truly is. Being an astute observer also helps guide him, he added. "Some lawyers don't like to look at the jury when they're trying the case. I am the opposite," Babich said. "I try to watch the jury; I try to get some signals from them."
Babich employs the same degree of hard work and dedication in his professional life as he does in his private life. He took up running several years ago and embraced the sport by completing nine marathons in four years. Just as there is in the courtroom, with running there is what he calls a "real discipline and structure to training, and there's a real sense of accomplishment."
Babich, a Sacramento native whose father was a Superior Court Judge, recognizes that not everyone has had the benefits he has had in pursuing a legal career. To that end, he created a scholarship endowment for minority students at UC Berkeley, where he earned a BA in economics, and another at Sacramento’s McGeorge School of Law, where his son is earning his law degree. "I really enjoy helping people and counseling them. When I was a deputy district attorney, my client was the State of California so I didn’t really have an attorney-client relationship. That's why I went into private practice," he said.
Helping people in need and treating them with respect, regardless of their circumstances, are values instilled in him by his parents. They are values that motivate him to fight hard for his clients. "I would say that 95 percent of the clients that come through my door don't have the means to pay us on an hourly basis," he said. "When people are not represented, claims representatives will take advantage of them and offer them a lot less than they clearly deserve." His respect for people extends to members of a jury, about whom he says, "collectively, they are brilliant. You are not going to pull the wool over their eyes."
In addition to being named Lawyer of the Year in 2013 by Best Lawyers, a group consisting of his peers in the legal profession, Babich holds the highest rating (AV) by Martindale-Hubbell, which since 1887 has been a vehicle for lawyers and the judiciary to evaluate their peers on their legal skills and ethics. Babich also has served as President of the Sacramento Consumer Attorneys and was honored as their selection for Advocate of the Year for his outstanding trial results in 2003.
Areas of Practice
- Personal Injury Litigation
- Wrongful Death
- Auto, Motorcycle & Trucking Accidents
- Construction Accidents
- Products Liability
Certified Legal Specialties
- Board Certified in Civil Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, 2004-Present
- California, 1980
- University of California, Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, California
- Juris Doctor - 1980
- University of California
- Bachelor of Arts - 1977
Honors and Awards
- 2013 Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers
- 2003 Advocate of the Year, Sacramento Consumer Attorneys
- Holds the highest rating (AV) by Martindale-Hubbell
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Consumer Attorneys of California, Member of the Board , 1995 - 1998
- Sacramento Consumer Attorneys, President , 1993 - Present
- American Board of Trial Advocates, Member , 1997 - Present
Past Employment Positions
- Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, Deputy District Attorney