Category

Personal Injury

how long personal injury claims

How Long Will it Take to Resolve My Personal Injury Claim?

By | Personal Injury

If you or a loved one become one of the thousands of Australians who suffer a personal injury for which you’re entitled to seek compensation, one of your biggest concerns will be how long the process will take. The stress of medical bills, lost wages, additional care costs, and the pain and suffering of the injury itself, can mean every day that passes without resolution can feel like an eternity. Every situation is unique and some claims may take longer to resolve than others due to a variety of factors.

Type of claim

There are many different ways to injure oneself in our world. The most common injuries result from motor vehicle accidents, however, there are many other circumstances where an injury may give rise to a personal injury claim: work related injuries, medical negligence, public and product liability injuries, crime victim related injuries, professional negligence, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Different claims have different timeliness requirements.

Claims arising from motor vehicle accidents: If your injury was caused by a motor vehicle accident, you will have 28 days from the date of the accident to file a claim with the local police. Within six months of the accident, you will need to file a claim with the CTP insurer of the at-fault driver.

All other claims: If your injury was caused in any way not involving a motor vehicle accident, you will have to file a claim within three years from the date your injury was sustained or discovered. Overall, you will have 12 years from when the act caused your injury.

Exceptions: In all cases, the court may review the time frame and allow you to file a claim, even if you would be otherwise barred. This will require you to demonstrate a good cause, so it’s important not to miss these deadlines.

Type of injury

Some claims involving more minor injuries may move more quickly. This is because these injuries tend to stabilize more quickly and thus you are more quickly able to determine your losses and future needs. In order to accurately determine what compensation you are owed, it is necessary to determine how much you’ve lost: that is, what are your damages?

Damages can only be determined once a condition stabilizes and the long-term effects can be predicted and quantified. However, with larger ‘catastrophic’ injuries, they will likely take longer to stabilize. Once this occurs, you will provide these details to your insurer who can either accept the damages or the claim will proceed to court.

Legal proceedings

Once you file the claim and send the insurer all of the necessary information, they will respond with either a settlement offer, or the claim can proceed to court. The claim will then be addressed according to the court’s timetable, which generally means that you will have the opportunity for a hearing within a year to a year-and-a-half after the proceedings are commenced. During this time, you, your legal representation, and medical team will work together to build the strongest case possible in support of your claim. This may involve multiple doctor’s visits and you should be prepared to record everything relevant, particularly costs.

Settlement

The uncertain and extended timetable of court proceedings can be daunting and wallet-draining for many. This is why it is often tempting for the injured party to settle, even if it is a low offer or they haven’t yet calculated their total damages. While settling early can save you time and stress, you should certainly wait until you are fully informed as to your claim’s value so that you know whether the trade-off is worth it to you and your particular circumstances.

If you have any questions or need someone to help alleviate the burden of a personal injury claim, please contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.

What is Contributory Negligence

What Does ‘Contributory Negligence’ Mean in a Personal Injury Claim?

By | Personal Injury

In a personal injury claim, contributory negligence is where the actions of an injured person have contributed to the injury that has occurred. In other words, if one sustains injuries because another was negligent, the defence may claim that something was done or failed to be done by the plaintiff that contributed to the way the injuries occurred. In this situation it’s the responsibility of the party claiming contributory negligence, the defendant, to prove that on the balance of probabilities contributory negligence took place.

Types of contributory negligence

There are two kinds of contributory negligence. The first takes into account the circumstances of the accident, while the second is concerned with the extent of the injury that has been sustained.

Examples of contributory negligence and the circumstances surrounding the accident

The amount of compensation that may be paid is dependent upon a number of factors, including:

  • The amount of financial loss that the injured person has suffered (loss of income as a result of not being able to work);
  • the extent of the injuries sustained by the claimant;
  • the amount and extent of damage that was caused to any personal property (and the kind of personal property that was damaged).

To provide an example of contributory negligence, imagine that a pedestrian decided to cross a road without first checking it was clear and then causes an accident in which he is hit by a car. The pedestrian then files a compensation claim against the driver who hit him. However, the driver (or their CTP insurer) will likely claim that the pedestrian stepped out onto the road in front of them and the driver had no way of avoiding the collision. The driver would be alleging, therefore, that the pedestrian’s actions were contributorily negligent in causing the accident.

The factual circumstances surrounding the accident are crucial to the success of a claim of contributory negligence. In the example above, the driver of the vehicle may even claim that the fault of the accident is entirely the pedestrian’s because he stepped out in front of the driver’s vehicle. In response, the pedestrian may argue that although he stepped out onto the road without looking, the driver had a sufficient amount of time to see the pedestrian and could have avoided the collision. Importantly, a plaintiff may still have grounds for a successful personal injury claim despite their risky behaviour leading to a claim of contributory negligence by the other party.

Percentages

The Court generally uses percentages to determine the amount of contributory negligence that has taken place. For example, in the pedestrian and driver example, the Court may apportion responsibility between the parties and find that both the driver and the pedestrian contributed equally to the accident. The Court may then rule that 50% of the fault was on the pedestrian.

 The effect on compensation

If the Court finds the plaintiff to have been contributorily negligent in causing the injuries sustained in the accident, the plaintiff’s compensation for gross damages will be reduced. For example, if the Court rules that 50% of the fault belongs to the pedestrian, then his compensation will be lowered by 50%.

Intoxication and criminal activity

There are statutory provisions that impose mandatory reductions for contributory negligence. The Civil Liability Act 2003 (CLA) states that in a scenario when the plaintiff is intoxicated, this will have contributed to the injuries that they sustained and their claim for damages will automatically be reduced by 25%. Furthermore, in cases where a motor vehicle and intoxication are involved, the mandatory reduction goes from 25% to 50%.

If a person is found to have been injured whilst participating in criminal activity when they claim compensation, the Court may decide not to award any damages at all. However, even in this situation, if no compensation award for damages seems too unfair, the Court may decide to award some amount.

Conclusion

If you have been involved in an accident, it is advisable that you immediately seek legal advice. A legal specialist will help you to understand your rights and determine the rightful amount of compensation that may be available to you.

Injured Suffer in New Green Slip

Legal Rights of the Injured Suffer in New Green Slip Changes in NSW

By | Personal Injury

Green Slip Changes in New South Wales Cause Legal Rights of the Injured to Suffer

The effects of a car accident can be overwhelming, even without considering the legal consequences. These feelings can be exacerbated when laws are significantly changed regarding injury compensation, as they have been recently in NSW. In order to help with at least some of the confusion, we have outlined a few of the more major changes below. With the help of a good lawyer, you can rest assured that you comply with all of the new regulations, protect your rights, and receive the compensation that you are owed.

Motor Accident Injuries Amendment Regulation 2017

Recently enacted, the Motor Accident Injuries Amendment Regulation 2017 (MAIAR) revisits what it means to have a ‘minor injury’ under compulsory third party insurance law. Previously, ‘minor injury’ was understood to include a broader range of conditions. The MAIAR also made changes that exclude injured parties with ‘moderate’ neurological injuries from recovering damages, despite the serious effect of these injuries on people’s ability to work. Those unfortunate people who are now excluded by the new MAIAR regulations will be forced to receive compensation from Medicare or private health insurance for long term treatment.

New Benefit Scheme

Though at first glance the new regulations seem only to exclude and minimize benefits, it is important to remember that injured parties still have rights. Some of the new benefits under the compulsory third party scheme include:

  • weekly income when an injured party can’t work;
  • homecare services;
  • rehabilitation services;
  • funeral expenses;
  • reasonable medical costs.

How Will the Changes be Enacted?

In order to ensure time-efficiency of the claims process, for the first six months after MAIAR changes take effect, it won’t matter whether or not the injured party was at fault or not. This way, no time is wasted determining fault. However, after the first six months have passed, fault will be taken into consideration. If the claimant was not at fault and had more than a minor injury, then the injured party may be entitled to receive benefits for up to two years. Medical benefits may go on as required, even for life if necessary.

Time Limits

Your doctor will likely recommend that, after experiencing an injury, you submit your Compulsory Third Party claim within 28 days of the accident. By acting fast, you can ensure you receive all the possible benefits that you are entitled to and also receive them as quickly as possible. Though you can lodge a claim for up to three months after your accident, sooner is better to ensure back pay of weekly payments. The Australian Medical Association reassures injured parties that they will be entitled to receive benefits for the first six months without needing to engage a lawyer. However, legal advice is crucial to the process, especially given the new regulations and strict time limits.

Reasoning Behind the Changes to the Regulation

The new regulations are intended to urge injured parties to return to work as soon as possible after motor vehicle accidents. These changes do ensure that injured parties receive compensation quickly for their injuries because the drawn-out fault determination process has been eliminated.

Critical Reception

The new MAIAR changes have been highly criticised for eliminating many of the benefits for more minor (but still impactful) injuries. The president of Australian Bar Association had harsh words for these new regulations, stating that they run completely counter to the goal of providing adequate compensation for injured parties. It appears that the only parties that truly benefit from these changes are the insurance companies, whereas injured citizens will be forced to cover their expenses in other ways.

pexels photo

What Does No Win No Fee Mean?

By | Personal Injury, Podcasts

In the context of personal injury law, or what some people refer to as compensation law, the term “no win, no fee” is often synonymous, but what does it actually mean?

In this podcast, Gajic Lawyers’ Rad Gajic answers the question.

TRANSCRIPT

Dan: Rad, what does the term mean?

Rad: Thank you, Dan. At Gajic lawyers, the term means what it says, and that is that we will act for you, to the completion of your claim, where you do not have to pay anything for our fees and for the costs that are involved in preparing the claim, until the claim is finished and provided the claim succeeds. Succeeds, in this situation, means that it is a win where you have an award of compensation or damages, or in ordinary terms, you receive money.

Dan: Can there be any exception to that particular rule?

Rad: Again, there is a lot of discussion about this, and different firms do different things. At Gajic Lawyers, provided it is an honest claim and the claim is unsuccessful at the end, where there is no money awarded or compensation paid, we will not, under any circumstances, take money for our fees, nor ask a person to pay for any of the expenses that have been incurred in preparing the claim.

Dan: Rad, what happens when the amount of damages is less than the total fees and expenses?

Rad: This is a very interesting question, Dan, and often not addressed by many people, but again, there have been rare instances at Gajic Lawyers where something like this does occur. The reasons for this can be various. The way we handle these type of situations is that we believe that the injured person must be compensated. There will be people that will be owed money, that have provided services and have worked on a claim. These people, we will negotiate with, and we have found that in these circumstances they are reasonable and will reduce the amount of money that they are owed. After those reductions, we find that there is a sum of money leftover and will be used for our fees, and the balance will be compensation payable to you. We will be reasonable, we will discount, and we will reduce to accommodate the situation that may be present.

Dan: Rad, these occasions are very rare, aren’t they, as you mentioned?

Rad: Extremely rare.

Dan: Rad, thank you.

Rad: Thank you, Dan.

choose best personal injury lawyer

How to Choose the Best Personal Injury Lawyer

By | Personal Injury

Many people get injured in accidents across New South Wales every day, whether in a motor vehicle crash, at work, or even in a public place. If you are one of these many people, you can find yourself injured, missing work, losing wages, and facing the long and arduous process of filing an injury compensation claim. This can be a difficult and sometimes frightening situation. Luckily, there are many great personal injury lawyers who can help guide you through the difficulties of insurance claims. But how do you know which lawyer is best for your unique situation? Here we go over some of the best advice for finding your personal injury lawyer.

Do Your Research

First and foremost, you’ll want to do some research on your own. Simply typing a few key terms into your search engine can help you narrow down your options. A little preliminary research about the firms or lawyers you are looking at can help you get a general idea of their level of experience, the types of cases they are familiar with, their price scale, and whether they have a good reputation in the community.

Moreover, a little preparation ahead of time can help you decide whether heading to a big firm is right for you, or if you’d rather enjoy the small firm experience. Just as every person is unique, so too are the needs of different cases. The most important thing is you make the choice that makes you most comfortable and suits your needs.

Do You Feel Comfortable with them?

Personal Injury cases often deal with sensitive situations regarding your pain and suffering, medical conditions, and financial struggles. Therefore it is extremely important that you meet or speak with your potential lawyer ahead of time so you can establish that you feel comfortable talking with them. They should be able to set you at ease while still maintaining a calm and professional demeanor. Having a good connection to your lawyer will help you talk candidly about your situation in the long run.

Do They Have Specialized Training for Your Specific Claim?

Depending on the type of personal injury claim you are filing, there are different laws, regulations, and time constraints. Consequently, the lawyer you choose should be well suited to represent you and your individual needs in the applicable field of law. You should decide whether you want your lawyer to have special training or a license in that field.

Were they an Active Listener and Good Communicator?

The best lawyers do more listening than talking, but you don’t want to be sitting across from a statue while explaining your situation. They should be engaging with you, asking you questions about the case, and showing genuine interest in providing aid.

Additionally, lawyers are notorious for speaking in ‘legalese’, a confusing jargon-riddled with complicated law terms and roundabout phrasing. However, a good lawyer should be a fantastic communicator. You want to be able to interact effectively and that requires mutual understanding.

Will they be Personally Handling Your Case?

If you decide to go to a firm rather than a private lawyer, you should ask them whether they will be the one handling your case personally, of if they plan to hand it to someone else (or even a team of others). If they will be personally taking care of you, find out whether you will be able to reach them easily in regards to your case. If they plan on passing the case to a partner, team, or associate, find out who will be handling your case, their level of experience, and how you are to reach them if need be.

Was Their Costs and Payment Process Explained to You?

One of the most pressing matters on the mind of a client is money. How much is this lawyer going to charge you to represent your case and help you file your claim? There are many different methods of payment so make sure you understand how your lawyer intends to be compensated. Personal injury lawyers should give you information about how they are going to charge you and a general estimate of what your final costs will be.

Personal Recommendations

Lastly, don’t rule out the significance of personal recommendations! Ask your family, friends, and coworkers if they have had any experiences with personal injury lawyers. Whether their experience was good or bad, they will be able to describe the process, give you some advice, and put you on notice of potential red flags. With any luck, you might come away with the names of potential lawyers with positive recommendations you can trust.