When you have been injured whilst visiting Australia and specifically, New South Wales, and you are only visiting temporarily, and after the accident you return back to your home overseas and have no specific intention of returning to Australia, we need to implement a plan to prepare your case for hearing. This is more relevant when the accident took place in New South Wales and, being a motor vehicle accident, the claim is to be determined in the jurisdiction of the Motor Accidents Authority.
In most cases, the preparation of the case for hearing involves the taking of statements and collating of medical reports and other relevant documentation. The Claims Assessor here in Sydney will most probably conduct the case by way of video link (Skype) if you are not in a position, either because of lack of financial resources, or other relevant reasons, cannot return to Sydney for the hearing of your case. I have been involved in several cases involving Skype and quite frankly, I think it is an inexpensive and effective method of having the case heard.
Approximately, 12 months after the anniversary of the accident, we can start to prepare the case for hearing. By this time, your medical condition should be stabilised and is ready for assessment of firstly, your medical condition and secondly, where appropriate, an assessment of whole person impairment.
The following list is not exhaustive but indicative of the information we need to obtain:-
- The background and education of the client.
- The client’s medical history, both pre and post accident.
- Full details regarding the client’s present employment.
- Ascertain the problems the client is encountering with carrying out his/her employment duties.
- The impact of the client’s injuries and continuing disabilities have had upon his/her social or recreational activities (this is highly relevant if the client is entitled to damages for non-economic loss [bodily injury]).
- Obtain details of the client’s loss of income since the accident and how this accident has also affected his/her ability to earn income in the future.
- Ascertain details regarding the medical treatment which the client has obtained after returning home including details regarding the general practitioner, anyspecialist doctors, physiotherapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, massage therapist, etc.
- We need to obtain a better understanding of the client’s profession and how the accident has affected your ability to advance yourself financially and how the accident may have placed you at a disadvantage as far as future employment is concerned.
- We need to interview relatives of the client, if appropriate.
- We need to interview the client’s employer, if appropriate.
- We need to interview fellow employees of the client, if appropriate.
- If we intend to bring a claim for past and future domestic assistance you will need to take photographs of the interior of the client’s present residence and also including exterior photographs of lawns and gardens.
- We need to arrange for appropriate medico-legal specialist in the client’s own country to provide you with supporting medical evidence outlining the nature and extent of the injuries and continuing disabilities.
- We need to prepare the client for the intended medico-legal examination and also prepare the client for the eventual Skype hearing of the claim.
After we have carried out the abovementioned tasks and also arranged for the appropriate medico-legal examinations, we should then be in a position to prepare a Schedule of Damages on your behalf and thereafter, request the Insurer to attend an informal settlement conference.
Please note this list is not exhaustive.
David R Ford, Special Counsel and former practitioner at Carneys
Accredited Specialist (Personal Injury)