Melissa Paradiso

If I have been injured in an accident, how do I know if I can make a compensation claim?

If you have been injured in an accident, you may have a potential claim for compensation if your injuries were caused due to someone else’s fault.

In some cases, determining whether someone else is at fault for your injuries is relatively straight forward.

However, in other cases, determining whether someone else is at fault and whether a successful claim can be pursued against them can be difficult and complex, particularly where there may be two or more parties that could be at fault.

Whether you can make a compensation claim also depends on the type of accident you have, the nature of your injuries and the legislation that applies.

There is specific legislation and court rules that govern an injured person’s compensation entitlements depending on whether they are injured at work, as a consequence of a motor vehicle accident or as a consequence of treatment or lack of treatment provided by a doctor.

Generally, the legislation that applies, particularly for workers compensation and motor vehicle accident claims, limits the type and amount compensation that can be recovered.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to advise you of whether you have a potential claim in addition to your potential entitlements depending on the nature of your accident, the injuries you have suffered and the applicable legislation.

Do I need a lawyer if I’ve been injured in an accident?

If you have been injured in an accident and have a reasonable likelihood of pursuing a successful claim, then yes you should engage a lawyer to represent you.

The reason for this is usually an injured person who has legal representation will achieve a better outcome and entitlement to damages than an injured person who does not have legal representation.

An experienced personal injury lawyer will be experienced in dealing with insurers and the insurer’s solicitors and will know what evidence needs to be obtained to maximise your compensation entitlements.

It is also important that you obtain legal advice if you think you have a reasonable claim but the insurer has either denied your claim or offered you a small amount of money in an attempt to try and resolve your claim quickly.

If you are in this situation and are dealing directly with the insurer, then it would be worthwhile for you to obtain advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer. This can often result in a greater compensation sum being awarded to you.

How much will making a compensation claim cost me?

This is a difficult question to answer, particularly at the beginning of a claim. This is because your lawyer’s fees will depend on many factors including:

  • the complexity of your claim;
  • how much evidence needs to be obtained to prove your claim;
  • how long your claim takes; and
  • how strongly your claim is defended by the other side.

When you first meet with your lawyer, it is important to discuss the terms on which your lawyer is willing to represent you. If you are unclear about the terms on which your lawyer is acting for you, then you need to speak with your lawyer about this and ask them to confirm their terms of engagement.

The terms of engagement may be a no-win-no-fee arrangement, which usually means that your lawyer has agreed not to charge you their fees if your claim is unsuccessful.

However, it is important to be aware that no-win-no-fee arrangements usually only apply to your lawyer’s legal fees.

A no-win-no-fee arrangement does not usually extend to disbursements. Disbursements are costs that include obtaining liability reports, medical reports, accounting reports as well as court filing fees and counsel fees. Disbursements, particularly expert reports and counsel fees, can costs thousands, sometimes tens of thousands, of dollars which you will be liable for irrespective of whether your claim is successful.

Whatever fee arrangement you have with your lawyer, the insurer will usually make a reasonable contribution towards your legal fees if your claim is successful.

It is important to be aware that the insurer will not pay 100% of your legal fees. The contribution the insurer may make towards your legal fees is difficult to estimate.

Depending on the nature of your claim and how much compensation you receive, there may be legislative provisions and court rules that apply which determine the contribution the insurer is likely to make.

How much will I get from my compensation claim?

How much you receive from your compensation claim will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Whether there has been a reduction to your damages for contributory negligence, which means that you were partly at fault for your injuries;
  • The severity of your injuries;
  • The extent to which your injuries continue to impact on your working capacity and home life; and
  • The legal fees that have been incurred.

The nature of your accident and the applicable legislation are also relevant. This is particularly so for workers compensation and motor vehicle accident claims because the legislation that governs these claims limits the compensation that can be recovered by an injured person.

The best advice for potential compensation claims is to see an experienced personal injury/motor vehicle accident lawyer as soon as possible after the incident.  This will increase your chances of receiving compensation.  Contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation.