Never underestimate the true value of your claim
- Case Study
- 26 Sep 2018
This is a true story of a real case involving a young man from country New South Wales. The only details that I have changed are his name to protect his identity. Otherwise all the facts and circumstances of the case are exactly as they occurred.
John was injured in a very serious motor vehicle accident on 29 August 2006. At the time he was only 17 years of age and was being driven by one of his workmates to the local timber mill where they both worked. Unfortunately, in the wet conditions, the driver failed to take a corner and slid onto the incorrect side of the road and collided head on with a truck travelling in the opposite direction. Tragically the driver was killed and John suffered very serious injuries including internal injuries resulting in serious damage to a kidney.
John was rushed to hospital where he was placed in intensive care where he underwent urgent bowel repair surgery along with other procedures. After discharge from hospital he was off work for a lengthy period of time recuperating. Eventually he attempted a return to work but found he could no longer perform the heavy work required of him in the timber mill.
Within a few months of the accident John consulted a local solicitor in the town where he lived for advice about his options.That solicitor advised John that as he was injured on his way to work he was covered under the Workers Compensation Act and that it was not necessary for him to make any claim under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act. As John was only young and inexperienced he took that solicitor’s advice and did nothing about bringing a claim under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act.
It was not until several years later when John’s claim under the Workers Compensation Act was finalised and he was awarded the sum of only $6,250 that he began to question the advice that he received from the solicitor. He went to two other firms of solicitors and both of them assured him that there was nothing they could do for him. John then effectively gave up thinking that must be all he was entitled to.
That was how things remained until John contacted us on 7 August 2013.We had just been successful in a case for his father who suggested he should give us a call to see what, if anything, could be done. I still remember my first conversation with John when he told me how much his life had changed for the worse since the accident, how he found it difficult to hold down a job and how disappointed he was with the miserly amount of $6,250 that his previous solicitors had recovered for him. I had to advise John that unfortunately he had been the victim of very poor legal advice. I advised John that had he seen me in the beginning that I would have advised him to pursue both his rights under the Workers Compensation Act as well as his rights under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act (unfortunately it is a common misconception amongst solicitors who do not specialise and who are not experienced in the field that it is necessary to make a choice between the two. This is not correct).
The problem was that by the time John came to see me it was 7 years after the accident and, strictly speaking, court proceedings should have been commenced within 3 years of the date of the accident. That is to say by 29 August 2009. He was now nearly 4 years out of time!
In those circumstances I had to advise John that there was very little prospect of being able to revive his case for him. However, because of the serious nature of his injuries, I was prepared to give it a try for him.
I then set about preparing full details of all that had gone on between John and his 3 firms of previous solicitors right back to the very beginning through until he came to see me. All this was placed before the court and to my relief and John’s delight the application was successful. The presiding Judge granted him leave to bring his proceedings out of time under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act.
Having been given the green light we wasted no time in filing a Statement of Claim on John’s behalf. The first thing we had to try and do was get John over the 10% threshold so that he would be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering. We marshalled the medical evidence and the insurance company, having originally claimed that John was not over the threshold, backed down and agreed that he was eligible for compensation for pain and suffering after all.
Once that had been agreed we could set up a settlement conference. This was duly held on 13 November 2014 when John’s case was settled for $650,000, which is $642,750 more than the $6,250 his previous solicitors had been able to achieve for him in his claim under the Workers Compensation Act. And to think that each of those firms of solicitors advised him that he would be better off resting with his rights under the Workers Compensation Act rather than with his rights under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act!
It just goes to show once again that who you speak to makes a very very big difference. If you get bad advice you will end up with the wrong result.
Having secured this result for John we are now pursuing a claim for him against each of his previous solicitors for the additional costs incurred in the application for leave and for the interest which he has foregone on the settlement which, had they done their jobs properly, he would have received years and years ago. Needless to say John is absolutely delighted and frankly so are we.
This is why we exist. This is what we can do for our clients. This is what we can do for you!!