Are personal injury lawyers worth it? – Litigation, Mediation & Arbitration

Lona Huebner

Australia: Are personal injury lawyers worth it? 25 November 2021 Polaris Lawyers To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com. Last week I had a spare moment, and was searching online for information about […]


Australia:

Are personal injury lawyers worth it?


To print this article, all you need is to be registered or login on Mondaq.com.

Last week I had a spare moment, and was searching online for
information about personal injury law. And as I started to type
my question into Google, something very strange happened. Based on
an algorithm relying on popular past searches, Google posed this
question which had me in an existential panic:

“Are personal injury lawyers
worth it?”

My career, my colleagues, everything we’ve worked for on
behalf of our clients – all came flashing before me in that brief
moment.

You have to have a pretty thick skin to be a personal injury
lawyer. You spend most of your days arguing with insurers on behalf
of people who are injured and unwell, who are coming to you at a
really difficult time.

Some lawyers in personal injury make the rest of us look like
cowboys – long on salesmanship and short on expertise. Meanwhile,
the public perception of lawyers in general and personal injury
lawyers in particular isn’t great – the term “ambulance
chaser” seems to be on the tip of a lot of tongues, and we
have to work hard to overcome mistrust.

But…. are we worth it?

As with a lot of issues in the law, lawyers are well served by
removing themselves from the central focus of an issue or
discussion. I thought about what it must be like for someone
outside the law, facing uncertainty and questioning whether they
should engage a lawyer at all, or how they might choose a lawyer.

Looked at from that perspective, the question is a fair one.
Here I’m going to give a rundown of the different options or
paths you can take if you’re injured, at work, in a road accident, in a public place or through medical negligence. I will help you weigh up
the pros and cons of engaging a personal injury lawyer or choosing
to handle your claim on your own.

First let’s look at the options. If you or someone close to
you is injured, there are a few things you can do:

Option 1: Take no action

Pros:

  1. Zero cost;

  2. You don’t need to spend time dealing with lawyers or
    insurers.

Cons:

  1. You get nothing in compensation, benefits or support;

  2. You won’t get the support or assistance you need to get
    back on your feet;

  3. It can be difficult to claim later if your injury worsens or if
    you change your mind.

Option 2: Represent yourself

Pros:

  1. Zero legal fees if you win your case (but still some costs such
    as court and medical report costs);

  2. You are in complete control.

Cons:

  1. You don’t have help dealing with insurers and lawyers;

  2. You bear all the stress of running your own claim;

  3. You don’t know the law, and Googling the answers won’t
    fix that;

  4. Representing yourself is very time consuming and claims are
    often delayed;

  5. Insurers can take advantage of your lack of expertise
    (remember, their interests are not the same as yours);

  6. You are extremely unlikely to get the best possible
    outcome.

Option 3: Engage a general lawyer (a lawyer who works across
multiple practice areas)

Pros:

  1. Potentially slightly cheaper than a personal injury specialist;
    and

  2. They are likely to be someone you already know or have a
    relationship with.

Cons:

  1. Your lawyer is not an expert;

  2. Delays are common and the case is likely to take much more time
    to resolve;

  3. Insurers can take advantage of your lawyer’s lack of
    expertise;

  4. The lawyer may or may not offer to act on a No Win No Fee basis;

  5. You are fairly unlikely to get the best possible outcome.

Option 4: Engage an expert personal injury lawyer

Pros:

  1. Your lawyer is an expert in the field, participating in regular
    ongoing legal education about their speciality;

  2. You have no/minimal upfront costs – in Victoria all personal
    injury experts offer No Win No Fee charging;

  3. Insurers and defendant lawyers are much more likely to take you
    and your claim seriously;

  4. The length of the claim can be made shorter because of their
    expertise and experience;

  5. Any additional cost will be outweighed by the efficiency in
    preparing the claim and the extra compensation that you get with a
    specialist; and

  6. You are fairly likely to get the best possible outcome.

Cons:

  1. A specialist injury firm will charge at a higher rate than your
    local lawyer;

  2. Larger injury firms can treat you like a number and not give
    your case the time and attention it deserves;

My takeaway

Personal injury experts can get lifechanging outcomes for people
who have been seriously injured. They aren’t as cheap as the
lawyer who does your Will or your conveyancing but this is a
situation where you get what you pay for (when you win your
case).

The process of getting compensation is more stressful in the
short term than burying your head in the sand. But a good personal injury team is worth every
dollar, and worth every minute of your time.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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