It is often difficult to know where to turn after suffering a serious injury. The physical pain, limited mobility, emotional trauma, and other factors all combine into an overwhelming situation. Talking to a personal injury lawyer may be in your best interest, but being told you don’t have a claim just adds to your frustrations.
One of the qualities of a good lawyer is the ability to interpret the law in relation to a client’s specific situation. This is a skill gained over years of experience, and it is not a science. Therefore, if a lawyer tells you that you don’t have a claim, but you have reason to believe otherwise, it may be worth seeking a second opinion.
Whether you are only starting to look for a personal injury lawyer or you have received bad news from a previous law firm and want to discuss your options, Henry Carus + Associates invites you to contact our team for a free claim review. We help clients in the greater Melbourne area and other communities of Victoria with many types of injury claims.
Why Consider Talking to Another Lawyer
Whether it is at the initial consultation or after years of waiting, many injured people abandon the idea of filing a claim after hearing “no” from the lawyer they hired first. This is understandable; you put your trust in a professional and maybe got your hopes up, only to be disappointed.
However, it is in your interest to try again. Not only might the compensation from filing a claim be the only option to handle the expenses associated with your injury, but it is possible that the next lawyer you contact could look at your claim in a new, perhaps more viable light.
An Example from Henry Carus + Associates
After a hot air balloon ride, a woman severely injured her leg while disembarking from a vehicle-mounted trailer on which the hot air balloon landed. She contacted a large law firm in Melbourne to handle her claim. After waiting 3 years to see if the claim would move forward, the firm informed her that the time to file a claim had already expired.
After this devastating blow, the woman contacted Henry Carus + Associates. Our principal, Henry Carus, worked on the claim himself. In listening to the client’s story, he realised that her previous law firm was narrowly interpreting the facts of the claim.
The prior firm looked at the claim in the context of civil aviation law, which only permits 2 years to file a claim. However, the client sustained her injury in stepping off the trailer, not disembarking from the hot air balloon itself. Because the injury involved a motor vehicle, Henry developed an alternative strategy for the client to file suit against the hot air balloon company under the Transport Accident Act.
Read the full “hot air balloon story” on our blog.
This story illustrates the value of contacting another lawyer even if your claim looks like it might not proceed. It also demonstrates the confusion injured people and even lawyers sometimes face amid complex injury and liability legislation in Victoria.
Multiple Options for Compensation
After most injuries, five different courses of action are generally available:
- TAC/road accident claims: The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) in Victoria oversees all motor vehicle accident claims involving cars, trucks, and motorcycles, as well as injuries that occur on buses, trains, and trams.
- WorkCover claims: Victoria’s workers’ compensation system administers benefits for workers who have been injured on the job, whether it is by some fault of the employer or a third party.
- Product liability claims: Injuries caused by a defective product.
- Medical negligence claims: Injuries caused by a failure of a health practitioner or hospital to provide medical care to the standard required.
- Public liability claims: People injured in circumstances arising from a public event, such as an unsafe walkway, slippery floors in a shopping centre, store or restaurant, poorly arranged stairs, or inadequate lighting are all common examples, will need to make a claim for damages against the negligent party.
Any lawyer who seeks to handle injury claims in Victoria should know the legislation governing these claims in full. The problem arises when law firms become so large that they assign teams to focus on just one type of claim. The department may do very well with those claims, but it creates “tunnel vision” that limits the team’s ability to see alternative options to resolve the client’s claim successfully.
This is what happened with the client in the “hot air balloon story.” The large law firm she contacted first assigned the claim to its public liability claims team. The first error made was to think they had up to 3 years to proceed with the claim, and thereby wasted time that essentially barred the claim under the civil aviation law. Then the same firm could not see any other opportunities, as it was still thinking within the mindset of one team, and essentially gave up on the client after keeping her waiting for years.
What to Look For in a Personal Injury Law Firm
The initial consultation is your opportunity to get to know the law firm and how it is structured. Is it a firm that has teams covering areas of law, and therefore you will not get the benefit of the wisdom and experience gained by understanding all areas of personal injury law?
Then, if you are lucky enough to find a firm with a single guiding legal mind focusing on the quality of work across the entire firm, ask yourself if that principal lawyer has the necessary experience to ensure you receive excellent legal services.
Here are 12 questions to ask about the firm and its principal lawyer in Melbourne
- Does your firm have experience in matters like mine?
- What kind of success has your firm had in similar claims?
- Will your principal lawyer have a direct, day-to-day involvement in my claim?
- Will I be able to communicate with your principal lawyer when needed?
- Will I be able to have conferences with the lawyer handling my matter when needed?
- Will I get regular updates from you on the status of my matter?
- Does your firm return calls and emails promptly?
- Does your firm have any unique experience with the TAC and WorkCover that assists your firm in managing these claims?
- What options do I have for recovery in my claim?
- How much do you think I will be able to recover?
- How long do you think it will take to resolve my claim?
- Will your principal lawyer be involved in any resolution of my matter, for example representing me at a conference or mediation, so that I benefit from his or her experience?
The lawyer discussing your claim should be able to answer each of these questions openly, drawing on the experience of their firm and the principal lawyer of that firm, so that you have an insight into what you will experience as a client.
Many firms are not able to provide access to their principal lawyers, as they are simply engaged in the day-to-day administration of the firm or use the services of barristers to do all their negotiations.
These questions will also help you understand better what the law firm you are engaging is able to provide and, in the future, you should be able to experience such commitment to your claim.
For instance, if you are told at the first meeting that you will receive regular updates as your claim progresses, but you hear nothing for weeks at a time, it may be worth finding a different lawyer.
Contact the Injury Lawyers at Henry Carus + Associates Today
Personal injury is a complex area of law. If a lawyer advised that you don’t have a claim or you had a bad experience with another firm, it may be worth speaking to a different personal injury lawyer to examine the facts and identify alternate strategies to pursue compensation.
If you have been injured in Melbourne or elsewhere in VIC, please call 03 9001 1318 or contact Henry Carus + Associates online. Your initial consultation is free, and we only get paid if you win.