Although we don’t expect to get injured, accidents do strike like a thief in the night to the best of us. It is important to be aware that if the unforeseeable does happen to you or a loved one, it pays to have a little understanding of how the law works to ensure things pan out in your favour.
Liam Millner is the founder and managing director of Australian Accident Helpline, a company that manages a national panel of no-win, no-fee lawyers. He has over 10-years of experience in the personal injury sector and has worked with some of the world’s leading insurers and consulted to prestigious law firms.
His company specialises in all categories of accident compensation including motor vehicle accidents, workers compensation, medical negligence and public liability.
So, to kick-off, is Australian Accident Helpline a law firm?
Liam: No, we’re what’s known as claims management company. We operate an independent help and advice line that manages a national panel of lawyers who specialise in a number of different areas of personal injury law.
What benefits does AAH provide that law firms don’t?
Firstly, our advice is free and impartial with a focus on educating and enlightening people about the personal injury claims process, which is something law firms cannot and do not offer. We speak to clients in a language they understand as opposed to confusing them with legal jargon.
Our website features some cutting-edge tools such as an online eligibility checker and compensation calculator. This increases our lawyer’s productivity which leaves them more time to focus on processing people’s claims.
What motivated you to start Australian Accident Helpline?
Upon moving to Australia from the UK, I was shocked to discover the negative stigma associated with personal injury in Australia. I also found that people overseas were far more aware of their rights and entitlements when it comes claiming compensation, so I have sort of made it my mission to open people’s eyes in Australia to the legal recourse that is available.
I believe that anyone who has been injured through no fault of their own deserves to be financially compensated. I would like to state categorically that we are not trying to create a claims culture, but we are aiming to help plaintiffs understand their rights and responsibilities when it comes to compensation
Why do you think there is such a stigma?
Australia has traditionally had a stoic, or stiff upper lip attitude in the workplace that in a tacit sort of way discourages people from seeking assistance or compensation for workplace injuries. The insurance companies are happy to sing off this same hymn sheet as it safeguards their capital and profits.
What should people know about no-win, no-fee?
Contrary to popular belief, no-win, no-fee or conditional cost agreement as it’s formally known as is not a legal right. When a lawyer decides whether to accept your claim, it’s purely a case of risk versus reward. That being said, if you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence there are a number of ways you can increase your chances of making a claim without forking out upfront legal costs.
What factors determine someone’s eligibility?
1) You must have, and be able to prove you have a genuine case
2) There must be an identifiable third party, either a person, association, company or government department, that you can bring your case against. Every day in Australia people have to give up on pursuing financial compensation simply because they didn’t follow the correct protocol immediately after their accident.
What can people do to make sure they get a fair chance?
Any potential claimant must be able to prove that have a genuine case. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s what you can prove.” If you can’t prove something happened, in a legal sense, it didn’t. Bearing that in mind, if you’ve been injured and want to start a claim for compensation, as soon as you are safe to do so you must gather as much evidence as possible to support your case.
You will need to:
- Report the accident to the relevant authorities.
- Seek medical attention.
- Get the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses.
- Take photos or video the accident scene.
- Take note of all monetary losses.
Can people make a claim without a lawyer?
Sure. However, before making that decision they should look at who, or what caused their accident and where. They need to consider who will be representing the other parties as who you are up against may determine whether you require legal representation. Many people we have spoken to started with self-representation and later called us to ask whether they should accept an award of damages that has been offered by the defending party. In these instances, we advise that it costs nothing to have one of our lawyers look over your case, and if they believe they can help they will let you know. It’s also worth noting from the onset that if you win your case, the losing party will more than likely pay for your legal costs, so you will not have to pay your lawyer personally. Many people tell us in hindsight that if they had known about our no-win, no-drama guarantee from the start, they would have just hired a lawyer from the get-go.
Some lawyers have a reputation for being sharks in suits, which makes people wary of seeking their services. Is this justified?
I think personal injury lawyers in Australia have received a bit of a bad rap over the years, and rightly so in some cases. But people need to be aware of their rights, especially as the amount of compensation you receive can have a huge impact on the rest of your life.
What do people essentially need to know when it comes to accidents?
They can happen to anyone, at any time and usually when we’re least expecting it but what really hurts is when we get injured through no fault of our own. To set the record straight, if there’s not a person, organisation, or another external factor at fault for causing your injuries you most probably won’t be entitled to an award of damages.