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Michael Burdess

Published: 13 February 2013
Author: Michael Burdess and Peter Claven

WorkCover, TAC claims and you. Part 1

Our firm has helped nearly 70,000 claims on behalf of WorkCover and TAC clients. There aren't too many questions that we haven't heard, and answered, before.

In this series of blogs, injury experts Peter Claven and Michael Burdess tackle some of the misconceptions.

Will I be charged a percentage of the settlement sum?

This is a very commonly held belief both before and after a client has read the cost agreement. It is illegal for a lawyer in Victoria to charge a percentage of a settlement sum. If a case is taken on a "no win no fee" basis then the lawyers are entitled to charge an additional amount which is a percentage of the costs (and not the settlement or judgment amount).

At no time is a lawyer allowed to charge a percentage of the settlement sum and if your lawyer tells you this you should be making a complaint to the Law Institute of Victoria or at minimum seeking advice on your costs elsewhere as soon as possible.

For example, if a lawyer says to you: "So Bob, we've settled your case for $200,000. We are charging you 25% of the settlement, so your bill is $50,000", then this is illegal.

If however your lawyer says: "Bob, we've settled your case for $200,000. We have done $22,000 worth of work and can charge you an additional 25% of the $22,000 on top. So your bill is $27,000", then this is acceptable.

I have a friend who had a similar injury. Am I likely to get a similar payout?

Each case is different. Each injury is different. There is no end to the variation in each. Your friends or family may have had some experience with the compensation system. This does not mean that they will be able to provide you with accurate advice. Often they will tell you some of the very things that this blog sets out to correct. Friends and family are great support networks in helping you get through difficult times, but they are not the best place to seek legal advice.

No one was to blame for my accident. Can I still claim compensation?

Yes. Many people assume that an accident must have been caused by negligence. But in Victoria, we have a no fault scheme. This applies to both the WorkCover scheme and the TAC. Just because there is no fault on behalf of your employer or another driver (in the TAC scheme) it does not mean that you will not get your medical expenses and weekly payments paid. In many cases you will also be entitled to receive a lump sum should your injury meet certain criteria.

With very few exceptions, the test as to whether you are entitled to compensation is very straight forward. If you have been injured at work or if you have been injured in or by a motor vehicle of any kind, you will usually be entitled to, at a minimum, coverage of medical expenses.

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