Over my years of practice, a reasonably common conversation to have with clients relating to the assessment of their claim is that the advice they are being given is different to that which a friend or family member is telling them in their own private conversations.
Commonly, it is something along the lines of “but Joe Bloggs at the pub told me that in his claim ….”.
It may not even be a friend or colleague giving the information, but sometimes a trusted professional such as a Doctor or Accountant etc.
One of the first lessons I learnt as a young practitioner was that “you only know what you know”.
It is a slippery slope to engage in giving advice to people about subjects that you have little or no experience in. That has stead me well in my career and is the reason that in modern day legal practice, most lawyers now specialise in a particular field and that the old school “general law practitioner” is becoming a thing of the past.
But going back to “Joe Bloggs at the pub”, what claimants need to be aware of is that each and every matter is different. Each and every matter is decided upon its own set of facts and circumstances. There is no “Joe Bloggs case” that you can pick off the wall and apply to other matters in their entirety. The reality is that people who are involved in an accident have peculiar and particular identities and differences which impact upon how their claims may be assessed. Such things may include:
- Their age – i.e. an 18 year old -v- a 50 year old have a very different assessment of future loss of income given their respective periods of age to retirement;
- Occupation – each and every occupation is impacted by injuries in a different way and also come with different levels of weekly pay and therefore losses etc;
- Family dynamics – whether a person lives with family members who may provide care;
- Living environments – i.e. Houses -v- units and a person’s needs for assistance within their living environment;
- Personalities – i.e. stoic -v- emotional or motivated -v- wanton.
There are many variables individual to a person which will impact upon the assessment of their claim. It is the reason why assessments of each individual matter are taken by examining the claimant’s own personal circumstances, impacts of their injuries and in so far as it is possible, a mathematical calculation of the losses as it relates to them.
The exact same injuries occurring to different people, at different ages, with different occupations and living in different environments will yield very different results in an assessment of damages.
It is for that reason that taking the advice of a quality legal practitioner who is experienced in the assessment of claims is crucial to ensuring that not just the best result is achieved, but that you receive the best advice particular to your circumstances to enable you to make the best possible decisions concerning the matter along its path either towards a resolution or decision by a Court.
Data released by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission, the regulator of the CTP Scheme in Queensland, has indicated that whilst claimants who are self-represented in their matters may see their claims resolved in a very slightly shorter time frame, the average claim amount for a self-represented litigant is substantially (approximately 10 times) lower than that of a person represented by a solicitor.
The message that I would have you take away from this article is to be sure to research your own matter, ask questions and seek clarity on the advice you are given. But, understand, that if you are obtaining advice from a suitably qualified legal practitioner, you are very likely to receive the right advice. Certainly much better advice than you are likely to receive from “Joe at the pub”.