Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers – Choosing the Right Lawyer.
If you’re thinking about making a personal injury compensation claim in Sydney or NSW, you might be a bit overwhelmed by the number of law firms offering free consultations, no win no fee terms and maximum compensation. This comprehensive guide will help you understand how personal injury compensation lawyers work and the importance of choosing the right specialist for your claim, and what questions to ask when you’re choosing a lawyer.
What is a personal injury compensation lawyer?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, at work, in a public place or through medical negligence, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation.
A personal injury compensation lawyer (or personal injury compensation solicitor) is a lawyer who specialises in personal injury claims and will pursue your claim of your behalf. It’s important to understand that when you make a personal injury claim, your compensation will generally be paid by an insurer that has lawyers on its side and is looking to minimise your payments. So you’ll have a much better chance of success if you have a good specialist personal injury compensation lawyer on your side.
It’s also important to understand that the best personal injury compensation lawyers specialise in a specific claim type. In this guide we go through each of these areas of specialty and explain how compensation lawyers work.
How do personal injury compensation lawyers work?
Here’s an overview of how personal injury compensation lawyers in Sydney and NSW generally work:
- When you first contact a personal injury lawyer, it’s likely they’ll offer you a free consultation, either over the phone or in person. During this consultation, the lawyer will ask you questions about your accident and your injuries to determine whether you have a valid claim and what are your chances of success. Part of this process is to identify the insurer.
- It’s hard for a personal injury lawyer to give an accurate estimate of your compensation at this early stage, however they should provide you with an indication of what you can claim for – (e.g.) lost income, medical expenses, travel expenses, domestic assistance, pain and suffering, permanent impairment or future losses.
- The next step is preparing to submit your claim. This includes gathering the evidence to back up your claim, which may include medical reports, photos of the accident location and witness statements.
- Once your claim has been submitted, if the insurer accepts your claim it will generally offer to settle. This means it will offer to make a settlement payment to you. Your compensation lawyer will advise you on what is a reasonable settlement and how much you should accept.
- If the insurer denies your claim or you can’t come to a settlement agreement, you have the option to take the matter to court – this is known as litigation.
How do you choose the best compensation lawyers for your claim?
1. Does the lawyer specialise in claims like yours?
Choose a lawyer who specialises in personal injury compensation, as opposed to a lawyer who handles a range of other types of law (such as family law). The best personal injury compensation lawyers actually have teams who specialise in particular claim types, so you get a legal team that has extensive experience with claims like yours and is likely to have a more thorough understanding of the laws that apply your claim.
2. What’s covered by their ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement?
Most personal injury lawyers will offer you a no win no fee agreement, however it’s important to look closely at the details of their agreement. Some no win no fee compensation lawyers will still expect you to pay their costs and disbursements if they lose your case, and that can amount to a large bill for you to pay.
3. Will I be charged every time I call my lawyer to ask a question?
If you choose a personal injury compensation lawyer who charges by the hour, then you’ll be charged every time you speak to your lawyer and costs can quickly get out of hand. On the other hand, if you choose a lawyer who charges according to a fixed schedule of fees, you can call your lawyer whenever you need to without being concerned about costs getting out of hand.
4. Do compensation lawyers cover all up-front costs?
Some personal injury lawyers may not fund all your costs. For example, some may not fund some of the expert medical reports they need as evidence for your case, travel expenses or court fees. Other lawyers may fund these costs but charge you interest on them. Choose a personal injury lawyer who will fund all your costs and not charge you any interest.
5. Will they take time to get to know me personally?
This is a harder question to answer, but your relationship with your personal injury lawyer is key to getting the best outcome with your claim. A good lawyer will take time to get to know you, your family and what your life was like prior to your accident, to form a full picture of how your life has changed. That’s how they make sure they claim everything you’re entitled to and not just focus on the obvious injuries.
How much does a compensation lawyer charge?
The personal injury lawyer will provide you with an estimate of their fees and a costs agreement to sign before taking on your claim. It’s important to understand the fee structure before you sign their costs agreement – here are some things you should know:
- Compensation lawyers in Sydney and NSW can’t take a percentage of your compensation claim.
- Some compensation lawyers charge an hourly rate, while others work on fixed rates according to a schedule of services they provide.
- Some compensation lawyers cap their fees – that means their fees will never exceed a set percentage of your compensation.
- Most good compensation lawyers will work on a no-win-no fee basis, so you only pay their fees after they win your case, and you get your compensation.
- Some firms will ask you to pay up front for expenses such as expert reports, travel costs or court fees, or charge you interest on these expenses. However, the best personal injury compensation lawyers will fully fund your claim for you and won’t charge you interest on any expenses they incur.
- It’s important to note that some firms may still charge you for disbursements* if they don’t win your case, so you should check the terms of their no win no fee agreement carefully.
*Disbursements are costs incurred by the law firm in the course of running your personal injury claim.
Car Accident Lawyers
Do you need a lawyer after a car accident?
You can lodge your own claim for car accident compensation without using a car accident lawyer. However, it’s important to understand that if you leave out important details in your application it can significantly reduce the benefits you’ll receive. For example, missing just one small detail about your injuries could mean that your ‘non-minor’ injury is classified by the CTP insurer as ‘minor’ – and that could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in compensation payments you’re entitled to. Refer to CTP Claim Advice for detailed information on how to make sure you don’t miss out.
A car accident lawyer can advise you on how to make sure you claim everything you’re entitled to and some will provide free advice over the phone.
What can a car accident lawyer do for me?
Getting a car accident lawyer to help you with your CTP claim can dramatically increase the benefits you receive, and there are many situations where you can get your lawyer’s fees paid by the insurer.
Here are some ways a car accident lawyer can help you:
- Make sure your injuries have been assessed correctly and you’re receiving your full entitlements.
- Tell you if you’re entitled to an additional lump sum payment.
- Tell you if you’re entitled to an additional lump sum payment.
- Make sure your income has been assessed correctly.
Medical Negligence Lawyers
What does a medical negligence lawyer do?
A medical negligence lawyer is a personal injury lawyer who specialises in medical negligence claims. Many medical negligence lawyers work on a no win no fee basis, which means they’ll fund your medical negligence claim for you and they only get paid if they win your case. They can do this because they assess the likelihood of your claim succeeding before taking it on.
A medical negligence lawyer will handle all aspects of your claim for you, by engaging medico-legal and other experts and compiling the reports and evidence needed to support your medical negligence claim.
What will happen when I call a medical negligence lawyer?
When you first call, the medical negligence lawyer will generally assess your situation and form an opinion on whether you have a valid claim. If they believe you do have a claim, they will then generally arrange one or more medical assessments for you to have their opinion verified by qualified medical professionals. A medical negligence lawyer can only win your case if they have evidence from a medico-legal expert asserting that medical negligence has occurred.
Once they have established the likelihood of success with your claim, a medical negligence lawyer will advise you on your options, and if they’re confident that they can win your case, they may offer to work for you on a no win no fee basis. If you proceed, then the medical negligence lawyer will prepare your claim by compiling all the evidence needed including medical records, witness statements, medical reports and forensic accounting reports to substantiate your claim.
Public Liability Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in a public place or building, you may be entitled to public liability compensation. For more information, read our guide to public liability claims in NSW.
A public liability lawyer (or public liability solicitor) is actually a personal injury lawyer who specialises in public liability claims and will pursue your claim of your behalf. It’s important to understand that when you make a public liability claim, your claim will be assessed by the public liability insurer, so you’ll have a much better chance of success if you have a good public liability lawyer on your side.
What’s a slip and fall lawyer?
You might have seen ads for ‘slip and fall’ or ‘slip, trip and fall’ lawyers. These are just other names for a public liability lawyers, used because a large number of public liability claims are for slip and fall injuries. For example, a common claim is for slipping and falling on a wet floor in a supermarket.
A TPD lump sum is money that’s paid to you if an injury or illness prevents you from returning to work. It’s a financial safety net that most Australians have through their superannuation funds. Unfortunately, many don’t even realise they have TPD insurance and fail to claim lump sums they’re entitled to.
Do I need to use a TPD lawyer to claim?
No, you can make your own claim without using TPD compensation lawyers, but there are several reasons why you should consider using a lawyer.
Putting it simply, by using TPD claim lawyers for your claim you‘ll have a better chance of your lump sum payout being approved. The key to making a successful TPD claim is completing a thorough application and providing all the necessary documents. It’s also important to make a written submission to the superannuation fund explaining why your claim should be approved. So, having TPD insurance lawyers on your side will make the process a lot easier and is very likely to get you a better result.
TPD lawyers can also check your superannuation funds and find out what cover you have. If you have multiple superannuation funds, they can also help you make multiple TPD compensation claims. Other things you should consider include:
- Time limits for claims
- Minimum wait period
- Whether you meet work history requirements
- Your age
- Your evidence and whether it’s good enough
- Any exclusions or eligibility clauses in your TPD insurance policy
Workers Compensation Lawyers
A workers compensation lawyer specialises in work injury claims and will have intimate knowledge of the NSW Workers Compensation Act and how it applies to different workers. For example, NSW police compensation claims are quite unique, and a personal injury compensation lawyer who has never dealt with them before may not understand the implications of their actions if they simply treat it as a standard workers compensation claim.
What happens when workers compensation is denied?
If your workers compensation claim is denied, there are options open to you to dispute the decision. The insurer that has denied your claim must notify you in writing of their reasons for the denial, and provide information on the next steps available to you.
Here are some examples of common disputes:
- The insurer doesn’t consider the person making the claim to be a ‘worker’ (under the legislation)
- The insurer considers that employment wasn’t the main contributing factor to the injury
- It wasn’t ‘reasonably necessary’ to have the medical treatment or to incur other expenses claimed
- Request an internal review by the insurer, who must respond within 14 days
- Lodge a dispute directly with the WCC
- Contact a specialist personal injury lawyer who offers free legal advice – it may be possible to get legal representation at no cost to you
On 1 January 2019, the Workers Compensation Commission (WCC) became the central body for resolving all workers compensation disputes.
If you have a dispute with an insurer, here are some options:
Where can I find the best personal injury compensation lawyers is Sydney and NSW?
Law Partners Personal Injury Lawyers is Australia’s largest specialist personal injury compensation law firm, with legal teams that specialise in each area of personal injury law. We have 15 offices across Sydney and NSW.