If you are injured at work, in a public place, in a motor vehicle accident or in certain other circumstances, it is important to understand your rights and potential entitlement to claim compensation. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights and guide you through the complex compensation process during this difficult time.
What is Compensation?
Compensation, (usually money), is something that is given in recognition of a person’s loss, suffering, or injury. Compensation is not a windfall, but an attempt to put an injured person back in the position they would have been, had it not been for someone else’s wrongdoing.
For centuries, the common law has recognised that people should be compensated for loss suffered because of someone else if the ‘wrongdoer’ had a duty to be careful to prevent the injured person’s suffering. Examples include the reciprocal duty of care owed between road users, the duty that employers have to provide a safe workplace for their employees, and a duty of care owed by healthcare providers to their patients.
More recently, governments have stepped in to legislate and introduce schemes to regulate compensation law. Some of these initiatives aim to cap the amount that can be received in compensation or to streamline processes so that courts are not congested with cases that drag on for years. Broadly speaking, governments have been concerned to prevent common law compensation from stifling business and community activities. If, for instance, there was no regulation of compensation following a motor vehicle accident, this could increase insurance premiums to unsustainable levels. Nevertheless, the basic premise remains that if you suffer a loss due to someone’s carelessness and they had a duty to be careful, the person responsible for that loss must do what is possible to make you whole again.
How can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help?
Depending upon where the injury occurred, whether or not you were at fault, and your degree of injury, you may be eligible under multiple schemes. Some of these schemes are mutually exclusive (so if you go down one path, you cannot go down another), and each has pros and cons that a personal injury lawyer can explain to you.
In some cases, you may apply for common law damages for negligence, where you seek compensation through the courts, which can yield a much larger payout but will likely involve more time, stress, and expense.
Unfortunately, compensation law is not straightforward in any area. Typically, you only get one bite at the cherry, so it is important to get your claim right from the start. In every case, you need to be careful not to sign away your rights to compensation under one scheme and accept a lesser amount. Generally, only you and your personal injury lawyer are focused on ensuring that you receive everything you should.
Motor vehicle accident claims for injuries suffered by motorists, passengers, or pedestrians due to the fault or partial fault of the driver of a motor vehicle. These claims are made through the CTP insurer of the at-fault vehicle with compensation assessed under a statutory scheme.
Workers compensation to support workers who are injured, aggravate an existing condition, or become ill due to their employment. This is a no-fault system, providing injured workers with weekly benefits and access to medical assistance such as physiotherapy, rehabilitation and home care, while they recover.
Public liability claims which are usually made against owners or occupiers of public spaces such as shopping centres, sporting facilities or theme parks, for personal injury that can be attributed to the negligence of the owner, occupier, or its agent. Slip and fall incidents in shopping centres are typical examples of public liability claims.
Medical negligence claims which encompass a range of claims made against health providers such as doctors, specialists, hospitals, and emergency clinics. Depending on the circumstances, if you suffer injury or loss due to the negligence of a health care professional you may be entitled to compensation. These types of claims are particularly complex.