ELMHURST — Frank A. Sommario always knew he wanted to be an attorney.
But it was an unforeseen twist of fate that inspired him to become a worker’s compensation attorney, a career in which he has excelled.
Sommario’s passion for his profession representing workers in job-related injuries has led to him being named a 2016 Illinois Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine.
“I had a fractured ankle when I came out of law school in 2000 so, from a personal perspective I understand what someone who gets injured has to deal with,” said the Elmhurst resident, who's a native of Melrose Park.
“I didn’t think I'd go into injury work. Circumstances were that I ended up working for an individual that did workers’ compensation, Joseph Vitell, who became my mentor. He gave me an opportunity to understand the basics of workers’ compensation in representing injured parties.’
Sommario worked with Vitell until 2007, when he transferred to Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, where he is currently a partner, practicing in plaintiff’s personal injury and workers’ compensation. The law firm also specializes in personal injury and medical malpractice.
“It goes in kind of a circle,” Sommario said, noting another interesting twist to his career. “Mr. Romanucci was my attorney when I was injured right out of law school.”
Sommario’s organizational skills also proved invaluable in helping him handle volumes of claims successfully, but one skill that most attorneys don’t have that Sommario uses to the benefit of his clients is his experience in finance. He is also a certified public accountant.
“My background as a CPA helps in workers’ comp cases because I have an advantage when arguing on large sum settlements,” Sommario explained. “The usual workers’ comp attorney may not have the financial education to zealously fight for their client’s interest. Sometimes those attorneys have to turn to other individuals for that advice, where I come to the table with both the financial and legal aspect.
"Every case is different but I think I get better results for my clients because of that educational experience, but I’m always humbled to get any award for my services to individual injured parties.”
So, what’s the best thing about Sommario’s job?
“On a daily basis you have lot of people that have significant injuries, and may or not be getting paid while they’re injured.Their employer may be disputing it,” he said. “When you’re able to help someone who doesn’t understand the system and they’re injured it’s a good feeling to be able to know you're able to make a positive impact on someone's life.”
In some cases, where clients had sustained multiple injuries requiring surgery to the back and spine and were unable to return to their jobs, Sommario was able through trial to obtain benefits for the rest of their lives.
Sommario’s inclusion in the prestigious Super Lawyers list follows six consecutive years on the Illinois Rising Star list, a compilation of the best lawyers under age 40 or who have practiced law fewer than 10 years.
He is currently First Vice President and President-elect of the Justinian Society of Lawyers and is a past President of the Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association (WCLA). He is also a member of the national and state trial lawyers' associations, as well as of the alumni associations of DePaul University, DePaul University College of Law, and Fenwick High School. He recently became a member of board of governors to the Synapse House in Elmhurst, which helps injured parties that have traumatic brain injuries.
“In WCLA we did fundraising where we were able to give money to Ronald McDonald Charities last year, and this year the Justinians have a financial fundraising arm called the endowment fund that helps disadvantaged children and provides scholarships to law students,” Sommario said.
Sommario balances his busy schedule between work and his family. He and his wife Gina have four children, twin girls Angelina and Isabella, 14, Sophia, 2, and Frankie, 15 months.