Published: 24 March 2020
Author: Jodie Harris
Information for Personal Injury clients regarding impact of COVID-19
RCT and Stringer Clark are receiving a significant level of inquiry from our clients regarding the impact the virus will have on the progress of their matters and any Court cases that are pending, particularly in light of restrictions introduced by State and Federal governments, to combat the spread of the virus.
At this stage, the answers to a lot of questions are not clear, and changes can and are occurring on a daily basis.
The following information deals with some of the questions we have received to date.
Client attendances at our office for appointments
Our offices are now closed to all clients but staff are continuing to work on client files as usual. All appointments will now be conducted via telephone or video conferencing.
If there is an urgent need for documents to be signed, clients will be contacted, and specific arrangements will be made. We are well equipped to deal with the restrictions imposed by reason of the virus and clients can be rest assured that their case will continue to progress.
Please ensure we have your current phone numbers and, where possible, provide us with your email addresses.
Clients can continue to phone and email our offices as usual with any questions they may have.
The Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS) in Workcover matters
The ACCS continue to receive any Requests for Conciliations in relation to clients disputing decisions from the WorkCover Agents (Insurers) which impact upon their WorkCover Benefits. Conferences will take place via telephone. Clients should not attend at ACCS or other venues for personal conferences. Clients will be contacted via phone at the date and time of the conference.
In Workcover and Transport Accident Commission (TAC) Medical appointments organised by the WorkCover Agent or TAC review ongoing benefits
If you have been advised of an appointment organised by the insurer on the TAC to review your entitlements, you should be aware that if you fail to attend, it can impact upon whether you will continue to receive those benefits.
We suggest you contact the Agent/TAC to confirm that the appointment is still going ahead. If you will need to travel to the appointment via public transport and you have concerns about this, you must raise this issue with the Agent/TAC.
We have been in contact with WorkSafe to determine whether there will be any impact on clients benefits if they refuse to attend the appointments due to concerns about contracting the virus. WorkSafe are working on their position regarding this issue and we will provide an update to clients as soon as we hear from WorkSafe.
Medical Panel Appointments in Workcover matters
All appointments for examinations to be undertaken by the Medical Panel have been cancelled and will be rescheduled to a later date. If you had received details of an appointment for the Medical Panel, please do not attend. The Medical Panel will advise you and us of dates in the future when the examination will take place.
Medical appointments organised by our office or otherwise notified by our office
If you have been notified by our office of a medical appointment for you to see a doctor, you should assume that the appointment will go ahead unless we advise you otherwise. We recommend that you travel in a private vehicle to the appointment rather than by public transport. If you have concerns regarding attending the appointment, you must immediately advise us. Not attending the appointment has the following impacts:
a. The doctor will send a non-attendance fee. These fees range from $880 to $2,000 depending on the doctor. Non attendance fees can significantly add to the fees clients incur on their cases.
b. Our ability to progress your case to a resolution is significantly and adversely impacted upon by your failure to attend. Failing to attend can result in months and month of delay on a case.
If you have been advised by our office that the Court has allocated a date for the Hearing of your case, we will provide you with information as to whether your case is likely to proceed.
It is anticipated at this this stage that there may be significant impact upon Court dates; however, we are waiting on further information to be provided by the Courts. The best we can advise regarding Court dates at the moment is as follows:
- Magistrates’ Court: All Hearings have now been adjourned to a later date. We will advise you once the Court notifies us as to when they will re-commence hearing matters.
- County Court: If your Hearing is likely to take longer than 2 days, the Court will adjourn you case for a date to be fixed in the future. This means that all jury trials will be adjourned, but at this stage serious injury applications are being heard. We will contact clients to confirm whether your case has been adjourned.
Settlement conferences and Mediations
If your case has been booked in for a Settlement conference or Mediation, these will proceed. However, they will not take place face to face. You will remain at home and must be available by telephone to confer with our lawyer and/or barrister.
Appointments with Barristers
If we have advised you of an appointment with a Barrister, that appointment will proceed as a phone appointment. Please ensure you are available at the appointed date and time via telephone.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.