Public Liability Lawyers – Claims Process and Selecting the Best Lawyer.
If you’re thinking about making a public liability claim in NSW, this guide will help you understand the public liability claims process and how to choose the best public liability lawyer to suit your needs.
What is a public liability lawyer?
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 you’re actually claiming against 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.
How do you choose the best public liability lawyer for your claim?
Here are four questions to help you choose the best public liability lawyer for your claim:
- Do you specialise in public liability claims?
Choose a lawyer who specialises in public liability compensation claims, as opposed to a lawyer who handles a range of other claim types (such as car accident and workers compensation claims). A specialist public liability lawyer will have more experience with claims like yours and is likely to have a more thorough understanding of public liability law.
- What will I have to pay if you don’t win my case?
If you choose a public liability lawyer who offers a no win no fee agreement, be sure to look at the fine print. Some lawyers will still make you pay their costs (referred to as disbursements) if they don’t win your case. Choose a public liability lawyer who gives you a guarantee that you won’t have to pay anything if they don’t win.
- Do you cover all of my expenses?
Some public liability lawyers may not fund all of the costs you incur in making your claim. For example, some may not fund some of the medical reports needed as evidence for your case, travel expenses or court fees. Other public liability lawyers may fund these costs but charge you interest on them. Choose a public liability lawyer who will fund all your costs and not charge you any interest on them.
- What sort of relationship will I have with my lawyer?
If you form a close working relationship with your public liability lawyer you’re more likely to get a good result in 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 been affected. When you’re choosing a lawyer, try to get a sense of how well they listen, and whether they’re showing genuine interest in you and your personal needs.
How do public liability lawyers work?
Here’s an overview of how most public liability lawyers in Sydney work:
- When you first contact a public liability 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 public liability 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.
- The public liability 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 public liability lawyer will advise you on what is a reasonable settlement and how much you should accept.
- If the insurer denies your public liability 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 public liability lawyer charge?
The public liability lawyer will provide you with 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:
- Public liability lawyers in Sydney can’t take a percentage of your compensation claim.
- Some public liability lawyers charge an hourly rate, while others work on fixed rates according to a schedule of services they provide.
- Some public liability lawyers cap their fees – that means their fees will never exceed a set percentage of your compensation.
- Most good public liability 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.
- 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.
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.
Can I make a public liability claim without a lawyer?
It is possible to make a claim without using a lawyer, however it’s important to understand that you will be making your claim against an insurance company that does have lawyers on its side. So you’ll have a much better chance of success and you’re likely to get a much better compensation payout if you have a good public liability lawyer on your side.
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