FAQs

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Murphy’s Law | Accident Lawyers –

FAQs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

The types of things you can claim (and the way a Court would ultimately assess your injury compensation, if it ever reached that stage) are broken down into various categories. The largest components in a medical error claim will usually be loss of earnings, future medical costs and the costs for paid assistance or care.

The various categories are broadly as follows:-

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Out-of-pocket expenses – to cover things such as hospital bills, doctors’ fees, x-ray fees, medication costs and any other expense you are put to because of your injury (including wheel chairs, nursing carers, cleaning expenses and the like);
  • Loss of earnings – whether this is because of actual time off work or a lost opportunity (for example, an inability to seek a promotion, take on another more lucrative jobs or simply missing out on overtime or additional hours etc);
  • Future loss of earnings – an allowance to compensate you for the loss of earnings you will suffer into the future;
  • Future treatment costs;
  • Paid Carers – the cost associated with having to pay for carers to help can be substantial.  These are legitimate costs that will be awarded where there is an appropriate need.
  • Care and assistance – allowances will be made to the extent other people are required to assist you with household chores and the like because of your injuries.
  • Other future costs/expenses – including modifications to the home or vehicles, instillation of stair lift etc etc.

While many doctors are reluctant to give expert opinions against their colleagues there are some who are willing.

Finding medical experts who are willing to give a balanced opinion and consider the merits of what has transpired can be a challenge if unfamiliar with this area of law. The reality, though, is that finding suitably qualified experts to consider such matters is not an easy task if you have never been involved in the process before.

One of our expert medical negligence lawyers will be able to help find the best qualified expert to consider your circumstances and help you find the appropriate evidence to prove your case.

You are legally entitled to bring a medical negligence claim for injury compensation without legal representation.

But, if your claim is worth pursuing at all, then it will almost always certainly be worthwhile engaging a lawyer to represent you. Medical negligence claims are generally very complex. A careful legal analysis of all the evidence needs to be undertaken and appropriate legal strategies need to be adopted to ensure you succeed and recover a fair, and proper, level of compensation.

Without legal representation you will likely overlook important issues in terms of evidence you need to prove your case or jeopardise your prospects of recovering all of the various levels of compensation you are entitled to.  Finding experts who are prepared to give opinions against other medical colleagues is also a very difficult task for those unfamiliar with the process.

The medical insurers are very experienced litigators in injury compensation claims so there would also be a real imbalance of knowledge and experience which could be highly detrimental to you if you were to pursue the claim without representation.

No. Medical negligence claims do not just relate to negligence claims against a doctor.

Injury compensation can be sought from any health care provider at all.

It could be a hospital. Or it could be a physiotherapist, osteopath, GP, private specialist, chiropractor, pharmacist, mental health care teams, laboratory services, dentists, medical dental technicians, opticians, ambulance service, health visitors, nurses or mid wives.

Essentially a claim can proceed against any health care provider who has caused you harm.  The claim is often defended by a medical insurer – so almost all of the claim procedures and negotiations take place with them.

 

It can be very difficult, without the right evidence and advice to succeed in a medical negligence claim for injury compensation. But that doesn’t mean you have no claim. It just means you need to carefully consider your options.

In basic terms, what needs to be established is that the health care provider did something wrong – that they failed to take reasonable care for their patient’s health.

Some examples of the ways in which a health care provider may have wrongly or unreasonably taken care for your health could be:

  • Failing to diagnose your condition – whether at all, or by making the wrong diagnosis;
  • Delay in making the diagnosis;
  • Making a mistake during a procedure or operation;
  • Giving the wrong drug;
  • Failing to obtain consent for treatment;
  • Failing to warn about the risks of a particular treatment;
  • Failing to provide the appropriate treatment for the condition;
  • Failing to refer to a specialist for diagnosis or treatment.

Each case is unique. So there are many ways in which a health care provider could have taken unreasonable care for your health. These are just some examples.

But it is also important to bear in mind that if you have suffered an adverse outcome following medical treatment, it does not necessarily mean that the treatment was wrong, unreasonable or negligent. Whilst better quality of care or safety measures could have been provided, it may be that the incident itself could not have been avoided. Or that the outcome was a generally accepted complication of a procedure.

Your own situation needs to be considered carefully, separately and uniquely.   And you will need expert and specialist medical opinions to confirm what the health care provider did was wrong/unreasonable.  Finding experts who will assist is not easy for those unfamiliar with the process.

Another complicating factor is that even if you can establish what the health care provider did was wrong or provided unreasonable care you still need to prove, legally, that the wrong or unreasonable conduct actually caused the injury (or condition) from which you now suffer. In other words, you need to show that if you had received the appropriate treatment, you would not have suffered the injury/condition (at least to the extent you now have).

So it is not enough to show only that a health care provider did something wrong. You need to show that the actual wrongful conduct led to a fresh (or worsened) injury/condition. Because it may be possible that what they did wrong had no consequence to your eventual outcome.

Again, this is an area where highly skilled medical, and legal, expert evidence is required.

One of our expert medical negligence lawyers will be able to assess whether there is a viable legal case against the health care provider and help you find the appropriate evidence to prove that is the case.

Call us now to learn more.

Even if you have availed yourself of other possible avenues (in seeking an apology, getting your records or being given an explanation as to what transpired) you still have the option of seeking injury compensation.

Injury compensation is an important way to gain access to funds to reimburse you for the additional costs and expense you have been burdened with if you have suffered an adverse outcome from negligent medical treatment. But you need to be able to prove all of the necessary legal limbs to succeed in such a claim.

If you have been injured either physically or psychologically because of a health care provider’s negligence, you will be able to claim compensation. The injury needs to be serious enough to make it worthwhile incurring the costs of making a claim. So it may not be worth taking legal action if your injury is very minor and you fully recover within a few days or weeks.  If there are long-term consequences though seeking compensation is often an advisable course to take.

Call us now for your free initial consultation and learn more about your possible rights of recovery.

After you have taken steps to take care of your health, you should think about what you want to do next. You should think about what you want to happen. You might want:

  • an explanation and apology – before you think of getting compensation, other things like a full explanation or an apology are important. Speaking with the relevant medical staff (even if you are not completely satisfied with their response) is an important step in trying to understand what transpired and why.
  • informal help – if you were treated in a public hospital you can speak to the Patient Liaison Officer. You may also wish to make a written complaint to hospital management. This may lead to you being given some explanation as to what happened.
  • to consider the Complaints procedure – you can make a formal complaint to a government entity, the Health Ombudsman. They may then investigate your case and provide an explanation about what has occurred. This may even be done through a “conciliation process” with the doctor involved.  The Ombudsman has the power if they feel it is required to refer the health care provider for disciplinary action to the relevant medical board. They may also suggest to the doctor that they make an apology to you.
  • to seek a copy of your medical file – you are entitled to a copy of your file from both the hospital (under their administrative access policies) and other health care providers (under the Privacy Act).
  • speak with a lawyer – get some guidance early about the steps you should tyke to protect your interests and preserve your entitlement to claim compensation if you need to.

Call us now for a free initial consultation to learn more about your rights and remedies.

You should first ask your doctor (or the health care professional who was involved in your treatment) for a detailed explanation. Medical practitioners are bound by their professional code of conduct to give you an explanation of what happened during your treatment.

You are also entitled to a copy of your medical records. You can ask for a copy of your medical notes from the health care provider under the Privacy Act. If you are uncomfortable seeking that information and material one of our expert medical negligence lawyers will be able to assist you get access to those records.

The first priority is your health. Make sure that you are now getting the right treatment to try and correct any problem.

If you’re not comfortable with the medical advice or treatment you’re currently receiving you are perfectly entitled to seek a second opinion. Feel free to ask your GP to refer you to another practitioner, hospital or clinic.  Alternatively, consult a new GP.  There is nothing wrong with doing that.  It’s important you see someone within whom you have trust and confidence.

You could also seek information and support from others – whether from friends or family (perhaps they could ask the difficult questions you may not be comfortable asking) or from specialist support groups. Another option is talking to your GP or other trusted medical advisor about what has happened to see if they can help.

Seeking legal advice is also an advisable step.   Find out early the steps you should take to protect your interests.  Call us now to learn more.

 

Absolutely – in fact there are quite a few. Which is why it is so important to get legal advice at an early stage.

A procedural time limit you should be made aware of is the obligation to serve a notice of claim form on the person a t fault within 9 months of the accident or within one month from the date you consult a lawyer (whichever is earlier). If this time limit is missed, you may be still able to make a claim however you will need to provide an excuse for the delay caused.

A more significant time limit is three years from the date of the accident – if you haven’t filed legal proceedings in the court by that date you will lose any entitlement to make a claim.  To be able to do that you first ned to navigate your claim through the many hurdles involved in the pre-court processes.  So it’s important to act fast to protect your interests.

If you have a question about a possible claim call us now, at an early stage, to give you the peace of mind you need.

 

Once you engage a lawyer your role becomes a relatively simple one.  All you need to do is provide information and some documentation from time to time as well as attend medical appointments.

Engaging a lawyer should then take the stress out of the claim.

Your lawyer will manage all the day-to-day administrative matters involved in processing your claim.  There are a good deal of bureaucratic and technical insurance hurdles to overcome in almost every case.  It can be daunting for those unfamiliar with the process.

An experienced lawyer will know how to navigate your case correctly though so the claim is processed in the most efficient and productive way possible.  They take the burden off you and investigate all issues: from determining the party at fault, finding supporting evidence, choosing the right experts and gathering all the documentation needed to secure an effective result.

Call us now to learn more about what’s involved.

 

The level of compensation available is different for every person. Two people may suffer from the same injury but receive completely different awards for their compensation. That is because injuries impact and affect each person differently (for example, one person may be forced to stop work as a result of their injury, while another could continue).

There are several factors that need to be investigated in assessing someone’s level of damages, and that is only possible once the long-term effects of a person’s injuries are evident.

Before making any decision about compensation it is so important to seek legal advice and find out what your entitlements are.

Please contact us to tell us more about your situation.  We’ll be able to give you a good indication about whether or not you have a claim that is worthwhile pursuing.

It’s difficult to say how long a claim will last – that really depends on the severity of your injuries and the attitude of the insurer.

If you recover quickly and have no ongoing symptoms, then your claim will be able to be settled fairly quickly (normally within a couple of months).

But, if your injuries and symptoms continue then the claim will take longer to resolve (probably 12-18 months). That is because doctors will need to assess your injuries and they cannot make a determination about the long lasting impacts of those injuries until they consider that the injuries have stabilised.  That’s usually around the 12 month mark.

While it can be frustrating to have to wait that time, it is so important that you do in order to recover a fair amount of compensation. Once your claim is resolved, you cannot make another claim for the same injuries if they deteriorate over time. So it’s vital to explore all avenues and investigate all your injuries prior to settlement.

If you would like a more accurate estimate, then please contact us/  Once we learn details from you about the accident and your injuries. Please don’t hesitate to call one of our team and get more information!

It’s high unlikely your claim would end up in court.

The vast majority of claims settle: only about 2% of matters actually reach a trial.  And those cases are often highly contentious or have some obvious technical issue involved.  These types of cases can usually be identified at any early stage in the life of a claim:  at a time when you still have the opportunity to extract yourself from it.

The overwhelming majority of claims are more straightforward and tend to settle through informal negotiation processes.

The first step in any claim is to serve a claim form on the person at fault and ask them to pass that form onto their insurer (if they have one)

The person/insurer will then investigate the circumstances of the accident. They will have six months in which to determine whether they are going to admit or deny fault for the accident.

In that time, we would also be working to obtain information and material that would support your claim (including medical records, financial documents etc).

Once your injuries have stabilised then you will need to attend medical examinations in order to assess the long-term affects of your injuries.

Ultimately the parties would participate in a settlement conference, once all investigations are complete. If the matter is unable to be resolved at the settlement conference the matter would then proceed forward to a trial. However, that does not mean your matter would actually go to trial, the parties are able to continue with settlement negotiations.  Only about 2% of matters ever end up in court.  The rest are resolved through negotiations.

Technically, the claim will proceed against the person at fault and they will be named as the Defendant in any legal proceedings.

However, there are regularly insurers involved who stand in the place of the party who committed the wrong-doing.  They step in and take over the conduct of the claim.  All the procedurals aspects of the claim are dealt with through the insurer.

 

The short answer is – no.

The person/insurer is under no obligation to pay those expenses.

In practical terms though, where the circumstances of the accident are clear, the insurer may agree to pay those costs before settlement.  It tends to be uncommon.

However, you can certainly claim any expenses incurred because of your injuries through the claim itself.  It forms part of your claim costs – which will be recoverable in a lump sum.

And of course we will be working hard to move your matter forward as quickly as possible and ease any financial burden you’re suffering as a result of your injuries.

You are able to recover compensation for various expenses through personal injury claims, including:

  • Compensation for pain and suffering.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses – to cover things such as hospital and medical bills, physio expenses, medication and any other expense you accrue through injury.
  • Loss of earnings – sometimes it is very clear that you have lost wages because you have been forced to take time off work and recuperate. But other times it may be more ambiguous for example you may have knocked back overtime or lost a business or promotional opportunity because of your injuries.
  • Future loss of earnings – this loss again could be fairly clear, for example perhaps as a result of injury you are unable to work in your previous role. However, losses can also be more subtle in the form of days off, potentially retiring early because of your injuries, leaving work early. We will look into your specific circumstance to help determine an allowance to compensate you for the loss of earnings you will suffer into the future.
  • Future treatment costs.
  • Care and assistance – some allowance may be made to the extent other people are required to assist you with household chores and the like because of your injuries.
  • Other future costs/expenses.

Everyone’s circumstance is different.

But generally speaking, if you are injured in an accident caused through the fault of another person then it will almost certainly be worthwhile pursuing a personal injury claim.

There are many factors that contribute to bringing a claim successfully and every person’s situation is unique.

That’s why being well informed about your rights is so important. But we know that a major concern for a lot of people is the costs involved in getting the right advice.

We want people to know their rights and what avenues are available to them. That’s why we provide free initial consultations with absolutely zero obligations.

If you have suffered an injury (whether a physical or psychological injury) through the fault of another party (even if that party is only partly at fault) then you will be entitled to make a claim against the person/s at fault (generally that person/s will have public liability insurance).

It is important that you seek legal advice from a solicitor to make sure you can make an informed decision about whether or not you have a claim worthwhile pursuing.

If you’ve been injured in an accident in a public place, at someone’s home, or on private property and someone else was at fault then you’re entitled to make a personal injury claim. (generally a person will have public liability insurance if they have home and contents insurance).

In order to have a personal injury claim someone must be found at fault – it is not a “no fault” scheme.

It’s really important to seek legal advice so that you understand your rights and can make an informed decision about whether or not to pursue a claim.

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