Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers – Choosing the Right Lawyer.
If you’re looking for personal injury compensation lawyers in Sydney or NSW, you might be a bit overwhelmed by ads offering free consultations, no win no fee terms and maximum compensation. This guide will help you understand the compensation claims process and how to choose the best lawyers to suit your needs.
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 you’re actually claiming against an insurer, so you’ll have a much better chance of success if you have a good specialist personal injury lawyer on your side.
How do you choose the best personal injury compensation lawyer?
Here are four questions to help you choose the best compensation lawyer for your claim:
- Is the lawyer a specialist personal injury compensation lawyer?Choose a lawyer who specialises in personal injury compensation claims, 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.
- 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 personal injury compensation lawyers will still expect you to pay their costs and disbursements if they lose your case, and that can amount to a very large bill for you to pay.
- 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.
- Do they cover all up-front costs?Some personal injury lawyers may not fund all of 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.
- Will they take time to get to know me personally?This is a harder question to get a clear answer to, 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.
Is there a personal injury compensation lawyer who specialises in my claim type?
It’s best to use a lawyer who specialises in claims similar to yours, so when you contact a personal injury compensation lawyer, ask about their area of speciality. Here’s an overview of the specialist areas of personal injury law:
A specialist car accident lawyer will have thorough and up to date knowledge of the NSW Motor Accidents Act 2017. They should also be experienced at negotiating with the NSW CTP insurers on behalf of their clients to get the best possible outcome for them – the insurers tend know and respect these lawyers as astute adversaries.
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.
Medical negligence is a very specialised area of personal injury law, and the best medical negligence lawyers have a quite detailed knowledge of the medical procedures and conditions they deal with in the course of representing their clients. They also have a network of the best medico-legal experts, which is crucial to making successful medical negligence compensation claims.
Public liability lawyers only deal with public liability claims such as slips, trips and falls, or other accidents that happen in public places. The success of a public liability claim relies on being able to prove a breach of duty of care by a building manager or authority, and this requires specific knowledge of public liability law.
Specialist superannuation / TPD lawyers only work with TPD claims, and have intimate knowledge of how insurers assess claims and why they reject them. They can often get a TPD claim approved even if it was previously rejected by the insurer.
How do personal injury compensation lawyers work?
Here’s an overview of how most personal injury compensation lawyers in Sydney generally work:
- When you first contact a personal injury lawyer, it’s likely they will 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 and future losses.
- The next step is preparing to submit your public liability claim to the insurer. This includes gathering the evidence to back up your claim, including photos of the accident location, witness reports and accident reports from the building or facility manager where the accident occurred.
- A personal injury compensation lawyer will also help you to get medical reports to show evidence of your injuries.
- Once your claim has been submitted to the insurer, 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 much does a personal injury 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.
Where can I find the best personal injury compensation lawyers in 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. They have 15 offices across Sydney and NSW.