In this podcast, Accredited Personal Injury Law expert and BPC Lawyers Partner, Kate Henderson, discusses three things that are crucial to your success when you’re trying to secure the most amount of compensation possible.
Dan: One of the most common questions people ask when seeking compensation for a personal injury is, what do I need to do to give myself the best chance of securing the most compensation possible? Well, in today’s podcast, we’re going to cover three things that are crucial to the success of your claim, and to do so, I’m with accredited personal injury law specialist and Beilby Poulden Costello partner, Kate Henderson. Kate, what information or documentation should a person who is seeking compensation provide you or a team member at BPC with?
Kate: Hi, Dan. When a person’s claiming compensation, they bear the onus of proving the elements of the claim. So the more information and documentation that can be provided, the better. So if you’re intending to bring a claim for compensation, it’s really important to be sure to keep relevant details of dates and times and people involved so that we have a full history of the circumstances giving rise to the claim and then in order to get the best possible result, it’s important that you’re good with keeping records so that we can actually discharge that onus of proof in proving all the elements of damages that flow from the Negligent Act.
Dan: Now, another really important question, I suppose, is how does someone actually prepare for a medico legal examination.
Kate: Medico legal examinations are an important part of the compensation claim process. If you’re bringing a claim for compensation, you can expect to be asked to attend an independent medico legal examination by your own legal representatives and usually another one that’s arranged by the insurer or the representatives of the defendant. It’s really important to attend those examinations because failure to attend results in cancellation fees and non-attendance fees being incurred, and it also delays claims from proceeding. So it’s really important when you’re advised of a medico legal examination to diarise those appointments and make sure that you do attend at the relevant venue on the day and time. Best to get there with plenty of time so that you’re not stressed and you can gather your thoughts.
On the day of the medico legal examination, go along with details of the incident that happened with relevant details of dates and specific details. But more importantly, depending on the specialty of the doctor, if it’s a physical injury and assessment, it’s good to go along with relevant X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and other radiological imaging so that the doctor can view the investigations that have been performed, and then it’s important to cooperate with the process and provide full details of the injuries and the specific disabilities, together with the type of treatment that you’ve undergone to date, the expenses incurred, and various medications that you’ve been on and are currently taking. So make sure you have details of the names of those medications and a history of how the treatment’s been provided, whether that treatment’s been effective, and also details of any types of assistance that you’ve required, with domestic assistance or cleaning assistance, childcare assistance, specific losses that you’ve suffered as a result of your claim.
Dan: So Kate, in the context of someone who is looking to maximise their compensation claim, how can they actually assist you during the claims process?
Kate: During the claims process, it’s important that the client and the lawyer work collaboratively to maximise the claim for damages and to ensure that all losses are properly addressed and assessed in the evidence. So whilst the claims progressing, it’s important that a client keeps the lawyer informed of developments by providing updated copies of medical reports and hospital discharge summaries, any updated X-ray or radiological reports that come into their possession, and importantly, keeping the lawyer updated with expenses that are incurred so that the claims for associated expenses can be properly particularised and claimed. Record keeping is really important because the lawyer can’t maximise the claim if we don’t have supporting evidence. So again, with heads of damage like economic loss, it’s important to keep full details of all dates and periods that a person is either unable to work or is only working at a reduced capacity, and having supportive documents showing exactly what the loss is.
So pay slips, tax records and notices of assessment from the tax department, all of those information are very, very important. Also during the claims process, the defendant or insurer will usually ask for further and better particulars of the claim, and that will be a series of questions asking for additional information and specific documents to substantiate the heads of damages claimed. It is important that even though those requests can appear somewhat overwhelming, it’s important that clients do respond to those requests for further information and documents because failure to do so, again, just delays the whole process. So evidence gathering is important, and it really helps the lawyer make sure that every loss that has been incurred is properly addressed and is properly claimed in the particular claim and that always leads to a better result. So people that are good at keeping records and providing those records will always end up with a good result.
Dan: And prior to the settlement of their matter, is there any further information that you require that, again, will help a person maximise their claim?
Kate: Before being ready to enter into settlement negotiations, the client needs to ensure that the lawyer has all relevant information and is properly updated with how an injury has progressed. So settlement can only be entered into when a claim is considered stable for the purpose of assessment. So it’s really important that if there’s any outstanding issues, further surgery or further investigations that need to be performed, a client needs to tell the lawyer that because that will mean that the claim really does require some further investigations before settlement can be properly considered. Because settlement in personal injury matters is made on a once and for all basis, and it’s inclusive of heads of damages for past loss and current issues, but it also covers heads of damages for future losses. So it really does need to be stabilised so that those future losses can be properly considered and estimates of various costs that are likely to be incurred in the future can be incorporated into the settlement.
It’s also really important that clients provide details to the lawyer of any potential paybacks. So if there’s any outstanding medical accounts, those need to be forwarded on to the lawyer so that they can be factored into the settlement. Together with any other paybacks such as Medicare benefits that have been received in respect to the compensable injuries, those need to be properly accounted for. Similarly, private health rebates that have been received in respect to the compensable injury will need to be paid back, and so they need to be incorporated into the claim as well. Then if a person has been receiving compensation affected centrelink benefits, then full details of those benefits needs to be provided to the lawyer as well. So at the time of settlement, a lawyer is able to work out all of the necessary deductions and advise a client that if they’re going to settle the claim for a specific amount, these deductions will need to be made, and therefore the settlement represents a specific net amount clear after those deductions are factored in. So it is important to not overlook those items because they need to be included in the claim before settlement negotiations proceed. Otherwise, a client will end up out of pocket.
Dan: Now, if anyone listening to this podcast has got questions, they can reach out to you and the team at BPC?
Kate: Yes, absolutely. At BPC, we specialise in personal injury claims and so if anybody listening to this podcast does have queries, make contact with us at BPC, and we have dedicated lawyers that specialise in particular work types, so your inquiry will be delegated to the most appropriate person, and any questions about the types of information and documents that you’ll need to provide in support of your claim can be answered because every compensation claim is different. People have different circumstances, and every matter is assessed on its own facts. So we’ll provide specialised and tailored advice for potential clients. So it’s best to reach out to us with those specific inquiries, and we’ll be more than happy to assist.