If you have suffered an injury whilst out and about and are considering your options and what to do next, here are 9 reasons why you should consider seeking legal advice to assist you in seeking compensation:
It is not as simple as simply taking someone to court
In Queensland, the legal process which may need to be followed after someone has suffered the injury in a public place is set out in the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (QLD) (‘the Act’). The Act provides a number of ‘Pre-Court’ procedures that must be followed before you can step foot in a courtroom. These procedures can be extensive so it may be helpful to seek legal assistance.
You have to act fast
If you have suffered an injury in a public place or as an invitee on a premises, Section 9 of the Act provides you with nine (9) months to serve the person who caused your injury (‘the Respondent’) with a Notice of Claim. The nine (9) month period will begin from the date of the incident which caused your injury or from the date you first begin to suffer symptoms from your injury. If you do not give the Notice of Claim within this time, you will be required to provide a reasonable excuse for the delay. If you decide to seek legal advice, a Notice of Claim must then be provided one (1) month after you have instructed a lawyer to assist you. We do recommend that you seek legal assistance when drafting your Notice of Claim.
The Respondent may raise issues with the Notice of Claim
Following receipt of the Notice of Claim, the Act provides that the Respondent must provide a response to confirm whether they consider themselves to be a proper respondent (Section 10) and whether the Notice of Claim complies with the requirements of the Act (Section 12). We recommend seeking legal assistance to make sure you take the correct steps and can provide an appropriate reply, to any response suggesting that the Respondent is not the proper respondent or that the Notice of Claim is not compliant.
The Respondent may argue that they are not liable for your injuries
After you have provided the Notice of Claim, Section 20 of the Act, allows the Respondent six (6) months to investigate the incident and provide a liability response. The liability response will give notice as to whether the Respondent admits liability for the incident or denies that they should be held responsible. The liability response should also contain an offer to settle your claim reflecting the Respondent’s position.. Should the Respondent deny liability, you will be required to gather evidence justifying why they are liable and should be required to pay you compensation for your injuries.
You will have to provide evidence of your injury
In order to receive compensation for a personal injury, you will be required to gather evidence showing what injury you have suffered and how it has affected you and your health and day to day life. This will include obtaining medical records from any and all medical treatment providers (doctors, specialists, surgeons) you have attended both before and after the incident. You also may consider undergoing an independent medical examination to further illustrate the injury you have suffered and how it has affected you. Seeking legal assistance can help you gather these records and consider what evidence you may need to evince your injury.
You must comply with the disclosure
During the course of the ‘Pre-Court’ procedures, you and the Respondent will be required to comply with disclosure obligations. This means that you must provide the Respondent with documents you obtain that are relevant to the facts in issue to your claim. Failure to comply with these obligations can be considered by the courts and negatively affect your claim. We recommend seeking legal assistance to ensure any evidence gathered is disclosed in accordance with your obligations.
You will have to attempt to resolve your claim out of court
Before you are able to commence a proceeding in court, the Act requires you to attend a compulsory conference or a mediation with the Respondent – or give the reason as to why it is not appropriate. The compulsory conference will allow both parties to present their case and attempt to settle the claim through exchanging offers of settlement. We recommend seeking legal advice to assist you in participating in a compulsory conference so that your case is presented as best it can be and appropriate offers of settlement are exchanged.
You can run out of time
In Queensland, you only have three (3) years to complete the ‘Pre-Court’ procedures and commence legal action in the courts for the personal injury you have suffered. This three (3) year period usually begins from the date your action arose, being the date of the incident. Occasionally, it may begin on the date your injury manifests, but at times, this distinction can be difficult to navigate. This limitation period is provided in the Limitation of Actions Act 1974 (QLD) and can only be extended under limited exceptions. The three (3) year limitation period also applies if you have suffered an injury in a motor vehicle accident, work accident or medical incident. It is important that you commence proceedings before this period lapses.
Obtain legal assistance from a supportive and skilled professional
Instructing a lawyer to assist you to navigate the ‘Pre-Court’ procedures provided under the Act will allow you to obtain advice from an industry professional, interested in your claim and eager to assist you following your personal injury.
We recommend seeking legal advice if you suffer injury so that you can be assured your claim will follow the ‘Pre-Court’ procedures and requirements set out in the Act.