When former High Court Justice, Michael Kirby, opened the Stacks Goudkamp office in Martin Place several years ago, he made a rousing speech in which he said winning personal injury law cases required three things to be done, and done thoroughly, namely:
This message really resonated with us because it’s always been the way we do things. It’s been the key to our success.
Mr. Kirby however was not just referring to final preparation for court hearings or CARS assessment conferences. He was urging thorough preparation from start to finish.
In motor accident claims, and in other personal injury claims, it goes like this:
- Start by getting all the facts: interview witnesses on liability (if liability is contested) and on quantum (e.g. career prospects), visit the scene of the accident and observe it closely (e.g. is it well lit, is it in a heavy residential area, what are the speed limits, are there children schools in the area, etc.) and take a detailed ‘before and after’ statement from your clients (you don’t know what losses your clients had suffered and are likely to suffer because of an accident until you know what they had, or reasonably expected to have).
- Think about what’s in dispute. Identify the issues and address these and don’t be distracted by what’s not in dispute.
- Work out what evidence you need to prove everything that is being claimed by your client and go out and get it by obtaining medical records, independent doctors’ opinions, forensic accountant’ opinions, traffic accident experts’ opinions, supporting lay evidence and so on.
- Prepare detailed, persuasive and cogent written submissions, with cross references to the available evidence, and realistic and reasonable assessments of damages. Making ambit claims unsupported by the evidence will only serve to erode your reputation and credibility.
- Prepare the claim’s range of damages before entering into settlement negotiations, with realistic evaluations of the claims’ weaknesses and strengths. This will enable your clients to make informed decisions. Don’t just pluck figures out of the sky.
- Evaluate weaknesses and strengths in your opponents’ cases.
- Provide the judges or Assessors who hear your claims with ‘Rolls Royce’ presentation, to make it easy for them to find in your clients’ favour. Make it as easy for them as possible by virtually writing their decisions for them.
- And most importantly, listen to your clients. It’s their cases and their lives, not yours.
At Stacks Goudkamp, we pride ourselves on thorough preparation of all our clients’ cases from start to finish. If you have been injured in an accident, do not hesitate to contact us on 1800 45 8142 to speak to one of our compensation lawyers, or make an online enquiry for a free no obligation assessment of your claim.
Written by Tom Goudkamp.