Thomas F. Shebell, III

In twenty-five years of representing injured people, I do my best to treat each person’s case as the most important one I’ve ever handled. My goal is to treat each client as I would expect to be treated.

I became a trial lawyer to help make a positive change in people’s lives.

As a boy, my parents stressed the importance of living life by basic, universal truths.  To name a few —Treat others as you want to be treated. When you make a mistake, accept responsibility. Actions speak louder than words. When you take on a job, do it right. It’s always better to be safe than to be sorry.

I try to live by those “universal truths”, and hope that others will try to do the same.  I believe most people want to do the right thing.  Unfortunately, many people and corporations have either lost sight of, neglected, or intentionally chosen to protect people’s fundamental human values, in order to avoid accountability and gain profit.

The end result of the refusal to accept corporate or personal accountability is that I meet people every day who suffer from physical and emotional injuries that could have and should have been prevented.  For the past 25 years, I’ve fought to help people recover money to make up for harm and losses from those that have caused their life-changing injuries. “Money” for Justice is a poor substitute for the preventable horrors that I’ve seen over the years, but it’s all the law will allow!

Unless you have been hurled into the chaos and misery of a life-changing injury, or the pain of loss of a loved one due to another’s neglect, money is seen by many as a dirty word. To those I say, money–compensation–is the only civilized way to equal out and balance the harm suffered by another and to hold another accountable for their actions.  Day after day, I see people of all walks of life that suffer from preventable medical neglect, car crashes, dangerous conditions of property, dangerous and defective products, corporate wrongdoing, and the like.  The most common emotion I see is fear and a sense of loss… sometimes hopelessness. Followed by questions, such as, why did this happen, how can I prevent this happening to someone else, how do we make sure that the person who did this to me is accountable? People want, need, and deserve Justice…

Early on, I grew up with the law.  My grandfather, father, and uncles were all trial lawyers.  As a boy, I would often spend Saturday mornings with my dad at my family’s law practice on Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park, learning about peoples’ problems.  When my dad, Thomas F. Shebell, Jr., became a judge in Monmouth County Superior Court, I would go to the Court House in Freehold with him on many Saturday mornings.  I felt at home in the halls of the court house and the courtroom. In the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to be a trial lawyer.

When I attended Providence College, I buried my thoughts of being a lawyer in the recesses of my mind, perhaps because I feared to live in my father’s shadow.  Instead, I developed an interest in creative writing and poetry.  By my senior year, I fell in love with my wife, Michelle, and knew I would never be able to support us as a writer.  By the time we got engaged eight months later, I made the decision to attend law school at the Dickinson School of Law, in Pennsylvania.  I graduated law school in 1991, and moved back to Monmouth County with Michelle, and our first daughter, Mackie.

I then had the privilege to Clerk for Justice Daniel J. O’Hern, of the New Jersey Supreme Court, for one year.  Within one week of finishing my clerkship with Justice O’Hern, I tried my first jury trial as an associate at Drazin & Warsaw, in Red Bank, New Jersey.  Over the course of the next three years, I tried over fifty jury trials to verdict, mostly in Monmouth, Middlesex, Hudson, and Ocean Counties.  Since that time, I’ve continued to try cases throughout the State.

Benjamin Franklin once said — “You do well in life, by doing good”.  My goal in life and law is to “do good”. Each client is unique and each “case” deserves singular attention.  Every client that enters my office is a human being who needs help, and I truly care about each person that I represent.  I actively and reflectively listen when people talk with me.  I often try to reverse roles with clients, and even defendants, to better understand how things for their perspective.

I also know what it feels like, first-hand, to have times when we are vulnerable, weak, and fearful.  I know what it’s like to suffer the long-term effects of life-long injuries after being struck by a car back in 2000. I  know what it is like to spend weeks in a hospital bed, to have operation after operation — to literally count the seconds, minutes, and hours for waves of pain to pass… to stare at the clock on the wall waiting for night to become morning.

I’ve walked in many of my clients’ shoes and taken the difficult journey back from injuries to just about every part of my body.  After 29 orthopedic operations over 17 years, my body will never be the same.  I don’t move or bend too well; I wake up with some degree of pain every day; I don’t sleep too well on most nights, and often wonder what I will be like as I get older.  I sometimes worry about whether I will be able to do the simple things with my wife, kids, and, hopefully, grandkids one day.

I am thankful to be alive and am able to work full-time.  I am a lot more fortunate than many of the people that I represent, who have jobs that require physical labor, or those who can’t get the medical care they need, or have physical or emotional injuries that cannot be fixed by modern medicine.  Once thing is for sure — I bring these thoughts from years of often hard living, pain, and frustration into every persons’ case that I work for.

At my firm, we fight to preserve your right to be compensated for injuries caused by the neglect of others.  The defense insurance companies and most corporations have one goal — to make money. Every corporate decision is a cost-benefit-risk analysis, designed to maximize profits for their executives and shareholders.

The lawyers that I’ve chosen to join the fight at my firm are thoughtful battlers.  We fight for core human, civil rights and values that include human happiness, enjoyment, and emotional and physical well-being.

At Shebell & Shebell, we see plaintiff’s trial lawyers as the last-resistance fighters against the insurance industry and corporate power structure. My greatest fear is the indifference of good people — jurors chosen from our community — who may choose to do nothing in the face of injustice.  Armed with the true facts, I have seen jurors recognize the importance of holding people accountable, of restoring human dignity, of valuing human losses, and, by delivering a just verdict, make the community a safer place.  

At the end of the day, I ask myself these questions —  Did I give my client 100% of my best?  Did I fight for a cause that I believe will further my client’s interests?  Did I bring a safety issue caused by dangerous conduct or a harmful product to the public’s awareness?  Did I give the jurors the evidence and guidance they need to deliver a meaningful verdict for my client, for the right reason?

If I can say yes to those questions, then I’ve had a good day. Although I have helped thousands of clients over the years, I have also suffered the pain of lost cases. Justice denied to good, honest, and deserving people injured through no fault of their own. Every day, I strive to improve as a human being and trial lawyer.

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After trying over 80 jury trials to verdict, I wanted to improve as a trial lawyer, father, husband, and human being.  In the summer of 2014, I was invited to spend three weeks in Wyoming, learning different trial skills from one of the best trial lawyers of our time — Gerry Spence.  At Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College, Spence and a special group of trial lawyers reinforce what many lawyers have forgotten — what it means to be a human being, caring for another human being.

Trials are not about the lawyer and his or her ego.  A trial is about giving jurors the true story of what happened to our client — a regular human being.  It is about honoring, respecting, and trusting in the incredible power of ordinary people — jurors — to do the right thing.  Before trial, I always go to a client’s home, sometimes several times, to better understand who that person really is, and how their injuries have effected their lives.

If you need my help, you can reach out to me until 11:00 p.m. every day.  I can be called at the office at 732-532-2011, or by e-mail at tshebell@shebell.com. My mobile number is usually the best way to reach me, at 732-614-3628 , again until 11:00 p.m., unless it’s of critical importance. I do my best to return phone calls or e-mails on the same day or night of the call.

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CTA-logo-transparentThe Board on Attorney Certification was established by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in 1980 fo the purpose of helping consumers find attorneys who have a recognized level of competence in particular fields of law. Attorneys may be designated by the Supreme Court as “Certified Attorneys” if they: are able to demonstrate sufficient levels of experience, education, knowledge and skill in a specific area of law or practice; have passed a rigorous examination; and have been recognized by their peers as having sufficient skills and reputation in the designated specialty. An attorney must be a member in good standing of the New Jersey Bar for at least five years; taken a specific number of continuing legal education courses in the three years prior to filing an application; demonstrate substantial involvement in preparation of litigated matters; demonstrate an unblemished reputation by submitting a list of attorneys and judges who will attest to the applicant’s character and ability; and pass a written examination covering various aspects of practice in the designated specialty.  Approximately only 2% of all lawyers in the State of New Jersey have received the designation of Certified Civil Trial Attorney.

MEMBERSHIPS

  • Member, New Jersey Supreme Court Civil Practice Committee
  • Certified by the New Jersey Supreme Court as a Civil Trial Attorney
  • Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
  • General Counsel for the Boro of Fair Haven Fire Department
  • Member, Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Member, Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Member, Monmouth County Civil Practice Committee
  • Member, Monmouth Bar Association General Welfare Committee
  • Member, American Association for Justice
  • Member, New Jersey Association for Justice
  • Member, Trial Attorneys of New Jersey
  • Member, NJ State Bar Association
  • Member, Super Lawyers 2012-2016
  • Member of the Borough of Fair Haven Zoning Board
  • National Trial Lawyers Top 100

BAR ADMISSIONS

  • New Jersey, 1991

EDUCATION

  • Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College, 2014
  • The Dickinson School of Law, 1991, J.D.
  • Providence College, 1988, B.A.

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

  • New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. O’Hern, Law Clerk, 1991 – 1992
  • Drazin and Warshaw, P.C., Associate Trial Attorney, 1992 – 1995