How does personal injury law work?

If you’ve been physically or psychologically hurt by someone else, personal injury law is here to help you back on your feet. Here’s what you should know.

While personal injury is a highly specialised field of law, it can also be incredibly broad. In the end, however, it’s all a means to an end: helping people get back on their feet. Here’s how it works.

What is personal injury law?

Personal injury law is at your side when someone else’s negligence has caused you physical or psychological injury, or significant economic loss. It allows you to claim compensation for damages suffered as a result of, for example:

Can you sue for personal injury?

Whether or not you’re entitled to compensation depends on the specifics involving the injury. Talking to a personal injury lawyer can help you determine whether you may be eligible to receive compensation. Generally speaking, you need to be able to prove that you suffered a personal injury in any of the above areas. In some cases, like in matters of public liability or medical malpractice, you will have to establish someone else’s negligence. Other times, this may not be necessary, for example in some cases involving motor accidents or work injuries.  

There are also time limits on how long after the incident you’re able to seek legal compensation. These can vary depending on the type of case and the benefits claimed. For example, to claim income support payments after a motor accident, you must lodge your claim within 28 days from the date of the accident. However, for public liability claims, court proceedings must generally commence within three years.

If minors were involved in the incident, their parents or legal guardian can pursue legal action on their behalf until the day they turn 18. 

What is the average payout for personal injury claims in Australia?

The settlement reached in a personal injury case can vary greatly as it depends on various factors, including:

  • The nature of the case
  • The extent of the injury
  • Your quality of life and income before the incident
  • Your quality of life and ability to earn an income following the incident
  • Your prospects of enjoying the same quality of life and financial security you had before the injury in the future
  • The legislative regime applicable to the type of accident.

An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you gain a better understanding of your legal circumstances and chances of recovering any losses.

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How are the costs of a personal injury trial calculated?

Of course, in addition to a potential payout, there are also other factors to be considered when entering a personal injury lawsuit. For example:

  • Solicitor fees: Lawyers usually charge an hourly rate or set rates. In NSW, there are some limits on the fees they can charge in personal injury cases
  • Court filing fees
  • Costs for medical reports and other additional paperwork that may be required to build a strong case on your behalf

It also pays to be aware that in some cases, especially when talking about smaller claims, there can be limits to how much of your costs can be recovered from the opposition – even if you win.

Questions to ask before hiring a solicitor

That’s why it can be a good idea to ask your lawyer of choice a few clear-cut questions before you jump in, such as:

  • What your prospects of success might be
  • How much you might be able to win in compensation
  • How much it’s likely to cost you if you win – and if you don’t
  • Whether there are any additional costs you’re expected to cover during your case
  • How long the case is likely to take.

Naturally, your lawyer might not be able to give you an exact answer for each of these questions, but they should be able to provide you with a range, which will give you a good indication of whether it’s worth your time moving forward with your claim or not.

In any case, a personal injury case can be a delicate matter, so it’s all the more important to have expert representation. So if you’ve experienced a case of personal injury, get in touch to see how we might be able to help you get back to your life sooner.

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