Do you need a personal injury lawyer? Use our guide to see what to consider when choosing the right expert to represent you.
You have a personal injury case and are now looking for a personal injury lawyer to assist you. The process to find a legal expert can seem daunting, especially finding someone who understands your situation, provides a quick resolution and is within your budget.
To help you with this task, we’ve put together a set of key questions to consider before choosing your lawyer.
What is the definition of a personal injury?
Personal injury arises when you suffer an injury (physical or psychological) due to the negligence of someone else, such as:
- In a motor accident
- Falling in a public place or on someone’s property
- The conduct of a doctor or other health professional
- A significant injury at work
Alternatively you may have been injured at work, where fault or negligence is not a factor in the basic workers compensation claims process.
To ensure that you receive valid entitlements for the funding of reasonable and necessary treatment, weekly payments and, in certain circumstances, a lump sum payment for your injury, you should see an expert in personal injury law.
What services can a personal injury lawyer offer me?
When you start to search for your personal injury lawyer, you should consider the expertise and services they offer. For instance, some personal injury lawyers specialise in car accidents while others may concentrate on workplace injuries.
Personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation at the first instance so this is a good opportunity to get a sense of their expertise and level of professionalism. The lawyer should provide an indication of the type of claim you may be able to make.
What services won’t a personal injury lawyer offer me?
Most personal injury lawyers will not provide advice regarding employment or industrial law. If you are having industrial issues with your employer, this requires a different set of legal skills.
How will they charge for their services in personal injury matters?
Most personal injury lawyers tend to offer a ‘no win no fee” agreement, but looking closely at the details, you may find they will still require you to pay for disbursements (e.g., fees for doctors’ reports, court fees, liability opinions).
Also, make sure you are aware of the upfront costs that the personal lawyer will fund. Disbursements may not be funded by them or they may fund the costs but charge you interest.
All of these factors should be revealed in the formal agreement between you and the lawyer. Masselos & Co Lawyers do not charge up front for disbursements and you will not have to pay if you lose.
Are certain requests for assistance within the lawyer’s scope of service?
If you only require assistance with the claim lodgement, you will need to ensure the personal injury lawyer is willing to provide that service.
Can I afford to invest in a personal injury lawyer?
Legal representation is important to achieve your maximum level of compensation as the laws are complex and insurance companies have dedicated teams of lawyers and claims managers to reduce your payout. This is why it’s important to take advantage of the free consultations offered by personal injury lawyers. During the consultation, you should ask about their fees, how they charge and when their fees and disbursements are paid. A free consultation will also enable you to inform yourself on the degree of complexity of your case.
There are different arrangements in place in New South Wales governing how lawyers can charge fees. For example in a workers compensation claim, at no time will you be asked to pay for anything. All legal fees including the lawyer’s professional costs and disbursements (e.g., medical report fees ) for claims brought by workers injured in the workplace are funded based on a scale and cost orders by the Independent Review Office (IRO).
In cases where fault or a negligent act by someone else results in personal injury (a negligence claim) the lawyer will enter into an agreement with you for providing legal services. This is normally a ‘conditional client service agreement’ which sets out the terms of the ‘no win no pay’ component of the lawyer’s retainer.
The law requires the lawyer to set out very clearly how the lawyer charges professional fees, provide an estimate of those fees, a description and estimate of likely disbursements necessary for the proper investigation and conduct of your claim.
How long can I wait before resolving my personal injury case?
The laws governing the time limit for starting personal injury claims and proceedings in New South Wales are quite complex. You should make an appointment with a lawyer as soon as possible following the injury and get advice about your prospective rights and the process necessary to protect your interests.
Often the time to resolve your case will greatly depend on the extent of your injury, the essential treatment including surgery and when your condition has stabilised.
At that time, your lawyer needs to obtain independent expert medical opinion as to your diagnosis, the immediate and long term prognosis, the likely effect of your condition on your ability to work to the normal age of retirement, restrictions on that working capacity and, in certain cases, your immediate and ongoing treatment needs and the need for immediate and long term care and domestic assistance arising from those injuries.
Speak to a personal injury specialist
Choosing the right personal injury lawyer is no easy task. The friendly team at Masselos & Co Lawyers are here to help you with the process. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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