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How to Choose a Compensation Lawyer

The most important decision you can make in your claim is the lawyer you choose to represent you.

Updated June 2022

Let me say that again so it sinks in. The most important decision in your claim is which firm of compensation lawyers you choose to represent you. You have one chance to obtain rightful compensation and secure your family’s financial security. Choose the wrong lawyer and you could lose everything.

Thank you for reading this material. The fact you’re taking the time to look at this information shows you are serious about your claim. You are now on the right path to choosing the best compensation lawyers for your circumstances and achieving the best outcome.

Introduction

Congratulations, by reading this guide, you have separated yourself from all those other injured claimants who will make the critical and costly choice of choosing a Compensation Lawyer to represent them without knowing how to make sure you have the best lawyer for your case. There are lots of lazy lawyers who charge hefty fees without much result.

The internet has allowed lots of hype and stories of grand claims. Most Compensation Lawyers offer the same things on their websites, a free consultation, “No Win No Fee” agreements, and they all say they are “the best”.
For most people, there is no way to tell which lawyer or website is “the best”. You may ask a friend, but their recommendation may not work out. The only way is to make sure for yourself that the lawyer you hire knows what they are talking about. Ask them the questions we have outlined and compare their responses. Then, you know if they are the right lawyer for your case.

I have outlined the Nine essential questions you must ask your lawyer before you hire them. These Nine simple questions are the key to saving you thousands in lost compensation and legal fees.

If your lawyer does not answer these questions directly or tells you they are unnecessary, you should immediately get up and walk out of their office or hang up the phone. Your claim is far too serious to waste your time with them. Importantly, it is imperative to your success that you engage a lawyer who is always going to be straightforward with you.

You have one chance to get the right lawyer for your claim, and it’s the most important decision you will make.

9 Questions you must ask of any compensation lawyer:

1. What Area of Law Do You Specialise In?

You must retain a lawyer that is a specialist in compensation law. Like Doctors or other professionals, the best Lawyers specialise in one area of law. Examples of specialty areas include family law, criminal law, or employment law. For a personal injury case, you need a lawyer whose practice is 100% compensation law.

Compensation law is difficult and expensive and needs an expert lawyer. If you go to the local lawyer who does your conveyancing and wills and he tells you he can manage your compensation claim, you are not getting the best lawyer for the job. Some lawyers will accept any case that comes through the door, but you must make sure that your lawyer practices, almost exclusively, compensation law.

2. Are you An Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law by the New South Wales Law Society?

If the lawyer you are consulting is not an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law by the NSW Law Society, then you have the wrong lawyer.

The Law Society of NSW gives specialist accreditation to those personal injury lawyers who have passed an exam demonstrating their skill and expertise and have also passed a peer interview with other expert Compensation Lawyers. Only these lawyers, who really are experts in this area, are accredited by the NSW Law Society.

3. Who in the office will actually be handling my case, and what are their qualifications?

This is potentially the most critical question that you must ask. The lawyer you might be speaking with at the initial consultation, who could be a partner and an Accredited Specialist, may not actually be the lawyer handling the case. Most of the larger law firms use the approach. Where you will initially speak to an impressive partner who is an Accredited Specialist, but then your case will be handed to a more junior lawyer. This junior lawyer will not be an accredited specialist and will be inexperienced and will make errors on your claim. The junior lawyer may be using your claim to gain experience.

You need to know the name of the lawyer who is actually doing the legal work on your claim. If that lawyer is not an accredited specialist in personal injury law, you have the wrong lawyer.

This issue is simple – do you want a lawyer you can call on with experience who knows what they are doing and will provide value? Or do you want to be treated like a commodity or a number? The larger law firms tend to treat clients like numbers and farm out the cases to junior lawyers. You will have difficulty ever speaking to your lawyer, you will probably never hear from the Partner again, and you will not get the result you deserve.

4. What is the chance of success for my case?

After discussing the circumstances of your claim, the lawyer should know immediately if your case is likely to be successful. If the lawyer is an expert in compensation law, they should know how long the claim will take and if you will succeed. If the lawyer does not answer these questions directly or says they need to do some “further research”, they are not an expert in compensation law. If they tell you that they are “not sure” if you will be successful, they are not experts in compensation law.

No lawyer can guarantee you success in any claim. However, they should give you a firm indication of the likelihood of success by percentage—i.e., 70% successful, 30% not likely to be successful.

5. How much is my case worth?

Again, if the lawyer truly is an expert in compensation law, they should give you a dollar range of the value of your claim. After the first consultation, it is usually reasonably clear within $50,000.00 or $100,000.000 what the value of your claim may be. Your lawyer should be able to give you the estimated value of your claim almost immediately.

On some occasions, the range may be greater than $50,000.00 to $100,000.00 on initial consultation. Your lawyer can narrow this once further information is obtained.

If your lawyer cannot provide such a value, they are either hiding something from you or are not an expert in compensation law.

6. How long will my case take to complete?

An experienced Compensation Lawyer will be able to give you an accurate guide as to how long the claim will take. It will be an estimate; however, they should give you a good idea at the very beginning. Anyone that does not give you a straight answer to this question is an indication that the lawyer is not very experienced.

7. How do you charge legal fees?

Most lawyers charge an hourly rate for their legal costs. Most compensation cases (but not all) do not require a lawyer to charge an hourly rate. Hourly rates can lead to conflict as you have no clear indication of how much you are likely to pay in legal costs at the conclusion of your claim. Will it take 10 hours or 110 hours? You have no way of knowing. If a lawyer is charging by the hour, he wants your case to be as complex as possible (so he can do lots of unnecessary work) and keep it going for as long as possible, charging you all the way.

On the other hand, you want your case to be simple and finalised as quickly as possible. You should ask your lawyer if they will charge a lump-sum amount either for stages of preparation or an agreed up-front amount. A lump-sum agreement provides an incentive to your lawyer to finalise your claim quickly and for the correct value. It is known as value billing.

Warning…

If a lawyer tries to charge you a percentage of what your claim is worth, run. This is known as a contingency fee and is banned in NSW and Australia. Lawyers are not allowed to charge you a percentage of your settlement. If the costs agreement they provide you references a percentage of your verdict to calculate your legal costs payable, you will, unfortunately, be paying far too much in legal fees.

The lawyer may object to agreeing on a lump sum amount because they do not know how long the case will take or what is required, this is nonsense. If they are an expert in compensation law, they should precisely know the issues in your claim, how long it will take and what they need to do to win. The stages of preparation can easily be assessed and agreed to at the beginning of the claim, with a lump sum payable at the conclusion of the claim.

8. Please explain “No Win No Fee” cost agreements?

You should always understand the costs agreement that you are given. They can be confusing. Ask your lawyer to explain the terms contained in the cost agreement, particularly the ““No Win No Fee””.

Most Compensation Lawyers will charge on a “No Win No Fee” basis. This means that you do not pay any legal fees unless your claim is successful, it does not mean is that you do not pay any legal costs at all. Legal costs are still payable, but they are paid at the conclusion of the claim when you obtain your compensation. You will still be required to pay your lawyer legal costs.

Some lawyers also fail to explain that if you should lose your case, that while “No Win No Fee” means you do not pay your own lawyers’ legal cost, you may be required to pay the defendant’s legal costs.

In compensation claims, the loser of the case pays the winner’s legal cost. If you should lose your case, for example, by not proving that the other party was at fault, you will not need to pay your lawyer’s fees, but you will be required to pay the defendant’s legal costs. This could amount to thousands of dollars.

Before you enter into the costs agreement, you need to make sure you understand the following:

  1. How your lawyer will charge legal costs, hourly rate, or some other method?
  2. Is it a “No Win No Fee” agreement, and what does that mean?
  3. If you lose, will you be required to pay the defendant’s legal costs?

9. What are disbursements, and how are they funded in the case?

Disbursements are payments for medical reports, expert reports, and court fees, which require payment as your claim progresses. A well established and experienced Compensation Lawyer will fund these disbursements on your behalf, usually through disbursement funding. The disbursements will need to be paid back with an amount of interest when your case concludes. Usually, you will not be required to pay for these expenses yourself upfront; however, a lawyer who does not specialise in compensation claims will ask for payment upfront.

Make sure you understand what you need to repay at the conclusion of your claim.

Now you have the power!

Now that you are armed with these nine questions, you will be able to cut through and recognise the instant hype and be able to choose the best lawyer for your case. Do your research, ask the questions we have outlined and choose wisely.

Conclusion

The most important decision you can make in your compensation claim is choosing a Lawyer. Don’t just go for the first Lawyer you find. All Lawyers are not the same. There are good Lawyers and bad Lawyers. If necessary, you need to interview several lawyers before deciding on the one to represent you.

Make sure the lawyer actually handling your case is a NSW Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law.

Matthew Garling

About Matthew Garling

Matthew Garling is an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law approved by the Law Society of New South Wales. Matthew is also a member of Australian Lawyers Alliance, a group of lawyers dedicated to fighting injustice from big businesses and insurers.

Matthew specialises in compensation law and has acted for thousands of injured people in work accidents, motor vehicle accidents and negligence cases. Matthew does not act for insurance companies, in fact insurance companies hate Matthew as he knows the inside secrets they use to prevent people from obtaining proper compensation. Over 90% of clients are referred to Matthew by lawyers and doctors. Matthew is recognised in both the medical and legal professions as one of the best personal injury lawyers in New South Wales. Matthew is the author of “How to choose your Compensation Lawyer” , “ 5 ways to ruin your Motor Accidents Claim and “ 6 Workers Compensation insider secrets”. Matthew is a lawyer who surfs and likes to keep fit by chasing his kids around the basketball court. as these professionals know he is one of the best personal injury lawyers in Sydney.

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Kimberly B.
23:14 14 Feb 24
Mathew is very knowledgable and has been of great assistance to me. All the staff are friendly and helpful. I'm so happy I found this firm.Thank you Mathew and team for your great work in my case.... I am 100% happy with what you achieved for me.read more
Julie M.
10:16 16 Jan 24
My last stage of Workers compensation claim was managed by Emma Perkins, Natasha Stojanovic, Rebecca Dunshea and Kelli Robinson at Garling and Co. Lawyers who went the extra mile with their service... from the beginning to the end of 3 years of my case. I have become very anxious with almost everything after a workplace injury and a lot of times I probably ask more questions than I need to, but Emma Perkins always finds clear answers to my questions in a short time and explains to me patiently even using her mealtime or between her meeting and make me feel that I have been very well take care and supported. I am so grateful and extremely satisfied. The excellent service, attitude, and culture of Metthew Garling and his team are second to none with a very high success rate. If you going to battle with your workplace injury for a short or long period, you are better off with Garling and Co. lawyers who are able back you up every step of the way. I strongly recommend it to anybody who needs their service like me. Julieread more
patrick P.
01:46 19 Dec 23
I like to say that I had a very wonderful experience,And the support, and also understanding with all my requests,I could not ask for a better team!Thank you Emma and also her assistant Rebecca... thank youread more
Kazi H.
13:38 13 Dec 23
Work cover fund is GOVT’S money but insurer think that it is from their 14th generation. So only they can have it. Not only that, people from the work, IME doctor from insurer, back to work... coordinator from work, Rehab provider from any side push the worker as hard as possible that the worker (doesn’t matter how the workers mental or psychical condition) either go back to his pre injury duty or leave the job.More over on that very bumpy any difficult journey some of them only treat the worker as a MONEY MAKING MECHINE .in some point worker feels like, no rooms to breath. On that moment need someone to support legally, someone to care, someone to relive.On my case I believe that, somehow, I manage to make my God happy. That’s why God sends me to Matthew Gerling and his team Allison, Rebecca and Nathan, and all of GARLING & co Lawyers.I am not good enough in English, can’t express my gratitude.Matthew, Allison, Rebecca and Nathan, please accept my appreciation and pass it to others.read more
Carol L.
01:32 29 Nov 23
Professional, understanding and friendly
Sean G.
23:21 14 Nov 23
Matthew Garling and everyone I spoke to at Garling and Co were kind, caring and compassionate. They were sensitive to my psychological condition and were patient in explaining everything to me, so... that I clearly understood the legal process. I am exceptionally grateful for the settlement outcome that Garling and Co obtained for me. Many thanks.read more
waqas A.
08:33 13 Nov 23
Great Experience with Garling & Co. Matthew explained everything in detail during the first appointment. Allison, Nathan, Rebecca and the staff have been extremely helpful. Thank You to the team and... lawyers at Garling & Co. for making the long process easy for me and getting an excellent outcome for my compensation claim.I would highly recommend Garling & Co. Lawyersread more
Saskia L.
21:42 08 Nov 23
The world of workers compensation is long, hard and confusing, but Emma and Rebecca at Garling & Co always treated my case with kindness, respect and understanding. No question was ever silly and... they always had time to make sure I knew what would happen next and how we could best prepare. I am so thankful for their expertise and could not have chosen anyone better to represent me.read more
Antonio P.
08:46 06 Nov 23
Thank you Matthew and his team for taking care of my case couldn’t ask for a better results and couldn’t have better team to do that thank you
Julie M.
00:40 06 Nov 23
Garlic & Co Lawyers have been wonderful, supporting me through some difficult times. With their assistance, positive outcomes were achieved. Many thanks to the Team.Julie
University of Technology, Sydney
Member of Law Society of New South Wales
Law Society of NSW Specialist Accreditation
University of Sydney
Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales
The law society of nsw professional standards scheme logo.
University of Technology, Sydney
Member of Law Society of New South Wales
Law Society of NSW Specialist Accreditation
University of Sydney
Legal Profession Admission Board of New South Wales
The law society of nsw professional standards scheme logo.
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