Personal Injury Lawyer Warrnambool
Personal Injury Lawyers serving Warrnambool and surrounding areas.
Claven Burdess Lawyers represent people in Warrnambool and surrounding regions.
Personal injury law concerns a person’s right to compensation and/or benefits as a result of an injury, sickness, or death. It’s a broad term that refers to a variety of situations in which someone might suffer an injury, such as at work, in a car accident, in a public place or as a result of a criminal act.
There are several different types of actions that can be brought in the general area of personal injury.
There are numerous pieces of legislation and schemes in Victoria that fall under the banner of personal injury law.
In some instances, an injured person is entitled to compensation without having to show that the circumstances of the incident were caused by any negligence of someone else. In other cases, an injured person must show that their injury was caused by the negligence of another party or party before they are entitled to obtain compensation.
In most cases, compensation is paid by an insurance company. In other cases, it is the responsibility of the negligent party.
Common personal injury areas of practice are:
- Workplace accidents (WorkCover)
- Motor vehicle accidents (TAC)
- Injuries suffered as a result of a criminal act (VOCAT)
- Public liability
- Occupiers liability
- Product liability
- Asbestos and other diseases related to exposure to dust
- Total and permanent disability claims
Injuries at work (WorkCover)
WorkCover is a scheme setup to compensate injured workers for injuries suffered or connected to work. Compensable injuries under the WorkCover scheme can come in many forms:
- A physical injury or condition that occurred as a consequence of work duties. The injury could be caused by a specific incident or it could occur over a period of time.
- Aggravation of an injury or condition due to work.
- Psychological injury.
- Industrial deafness.
- A disease, such as Q fever, asbestosis, dermatitis or cancer.
There are two broad parts to the Victorian WorkCover system.
The first is called ‘no fault’ entitlements. This means that people who suffer injuries at work are able to pursue a WorkCover claim even – if nobody else was responsible for their injuries. For example, you slip on wet grass while working outside – it’s probably not anyone’s fault that this happened, but you can still claim some WorkCover benefits if you are injured.
The second is referred to as a common law claim for damages. This is a lump sum claim that can be pursued if the person was injured as a result of someone else’s negligence. This could be due to something the employer did, the actions of another employee, or the actions of a third party.
Common law claims for personal injury in the WorkCover area are complex and do require a lawyer. There are important time limits that need to be adhered to, as well as difficult decisions to be made as to whether someone can claim loss of earnings. WorkCover claims are hard fought by the Victorian WorkCover Authority and their lawyers.
Motor vehicle accidents (TAC)
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, compensation in Victoria works in a very similar way to if you were injured at work.
However any entitlements would be paid for by the rather than WorkCover. Like WorkCover, TAC has “no fault” entitlements as well as a common law component.
There are important differences between TAC and WorkCover when it comes to weekly payments, impairment claims and common law (damages) claims. For weekly payments, there is a difference in how long you can receive payments, and who can stay on payments long-term.
For impairment claims, the amounts payable are smaller in TAC claims compared to WorkCover claims. However, when it comes to common law claims, the TAC scheme is much easier to claim loss of earnings.
For TAC personal injury common law claims, unlike in WorkCover cases, there is no separate test to claim economic loss (loss of income). If you can prove you are entitled to “pain and suffering damages”, you will also be entitled to claim any economic loss you can show was caused by the accident.
The time limit to bring a common law personal injury claim is six years from the date of accident, which is the same as in WorkCover matters.
Injuries suffered as a result of a criminal act
If you were injured as a result of the criminal act of another, in Victoria there are three main avenues open to you to obtain compensation.
The first is through the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal. The second is via a sentencing Act application. And the third is a Wrongs Act application.
Any awards made under VOCAT are paid by the State government, while awards made under the other two are payable by the offender. This in a lot of cases means that the only realistic way of recovering compensation is through VOCAT, as the ability of the offender to pay is limited, or enforcing any judgement against the offender is difficult.
VOCAT claims need to be brought within two years unless there are circumstances that satisfy the Tribunal to extend the time limit.
There are small lump sums payable to victims, ranging from $100-10,000. In addition, expenses related to the act of violence itself, such as damaged clothing, or related necessary expenses
Public and occupiers liability matters
These types of actions involve injuries suffered in public places or on private or public premises. Most commonly this will be injuries slipping in a supermarket, shopping centre or on a footpath. But is also covers a very wide-range of injuries including injuries on rental properties, any type of business, at someone’s home that you visit, public gardens, pools and so on.
You are required to prove that another party is at-fault to claims any compensation. There is no “no-fault” scheme to pay weekly payments or medical expenses.
To bring a claim for compensation in a public liability matter, if you want to claim pain and suffering, you will need to reach a certain level of “whole person impairment”, which is assessed by specialist doctors. If you don’t reach that threshold, you’ll be limited to claiming out-of-pocket expenses, future medical and like expenses and past and future loss of earnings.
If someone suffers an injury as a consequence of a defective or faulty product, they are able to bring a claim against the manufacturer or person that sold the product. This can range from faulty medical devices – you may have read about class actions over joint replacements and pelvic mesh – to basic products like prams, heat lamps and gardening machinery.
As with public liability claims, there is restricted access to pain and suffering damages.
Total and permanent disability claims
If a person is unlikely to return to work due to incapacity, in some cases they are able to claim a lump sum payment through their superannuation fund called a total and permanent disability (TPD) insurance. This lump sum is not dependent on how much they have in their superannuation account. Generally people will have a default level of TPD insurance for each superannuation fund they use. Amounts payable vary from fund to fund, but will decrease as you get older as the period of future lost income reduces.
Similarly, some people may be able to access income protection benefits, sometimes referred to as salary continuance. For the most part this is not a “default” insurance option, it will be an optional extra that someone has added to their superannuation coverage. Salary continuance claims are often hard fought by the insurer that manages the claims for the superannuation fund.
There is also in nearly all superannuation funds coverage in the event of the death of the fund owner.
Personal injury lawyers act for people who have suffered injuries which have caused them to suffer some form of loss, usually long-term loss. The loss typically results from one or more of the following;
- A restriction in, or inability to work;
- Pain and suffering;
- A restriction or inability to care for yourself;
- A restriction or inability to perform your domestic duties;
- A restriction or inability to participate in recreational activities;
- The incurring of medical and treatment expenses.
Most personal injury claims do require a lawyer. In limited circumstances, you could do your own VOCAT claim or TPD claim. Even in those types of claims, it is better to have a lawyer to ensure that you get the best possible outcome.
Most circumstances where you might be injured in Victoria do have hurdles to claiming compensation, both with time limits and restrictions on who can claim lump sums. As such, you will very likely need a lawyer to help you navigate through the system.
There is plenty of information online about all types of personal injury claims. Doing further research yourself is a great idea, but it’s best to use reputable sources – like the WorkSafe website, TAC website, or a law firms website.
Personal injury lawyer in Warrnambool, Claven Burdess.
If you need advice in relation to a personal injury matter in Warrnambool, feel free to contact us. We provide a free initial case assessment and advice. In addition to this, we also provide ‘no win no fee’ representation.