According to a leading Australian compensation lawyer, car crash victims in Queensland are fortunate to have one of the best CTP schemes in the country and the push by some insurers to see wholesale changes based on an argument about the extent of legal costs in the system, should be recognised as self-interest and greed.
RACQ made headlines for calling out the 50/50 rule which is designed so compensation lawyers can only claim 50 per cent of the net settlement with the other half going to their client.
Travis Schultz, principal of Travis Schultz Law, rejected the recent statements by RACQ that suggest legal costs chew up more than half of a settlement or award of damages.
“Currently, the Queensland Government legislates a “cap” on the fees that can be charged by law firms at 50% of the net settlement sum (after any refunds to government departments and payment of out of pocket expenses associated with the claim),” Mr Schultz said.
“But this cap is not mandatory and law firms can elect to self-impose a much lower cap so they can ensure that their clients receive the lion’s share of their settlement or award.”
Mr Schultz said at his own firm, they self-impose a cap of one-third, which means their clients always receive no less than 66% of the net settlement sum. And often, they don’t even reach the cap.
“And we aren’t alone – there are other small and boutique firms who specialise in compensation law who also put their clients’ interests first and foremost and offer lower fee arrangements,” Mr Schultz said.
“If you look at the data, it clearly shows that claimant’s in the CTP scheme who don’t have legal representation receive significantly lower settlements than those that are legally represented – demonstrating that you can’t rely on insurers to act contrary to their own interests and offer reasonable settlements to those that deserve them.
“The CTP scheme in Queensland is one of the best in the country, but there are always ways to find improvements.
“The best tip that I could give any person who is injured in a motor vehicle accident is to do your homework.
“Make sure the lawyer you engage is a genuine expert or accredited specialist, look to engage a law firm with a reasonable fee structure who doesn’t charge uplift fees for acting on a no win/no fee basis. And if you are unsure, get a second opinion.
“If a claimant isn’t happy with their legal representation, contrary to popular belief, there is nothing stopping them from doing some research and finding a low fee lawyer who meets their needs.”
Travis Schultz is the Principal of Travis Schultz Law and has been an accredited specialist in personal injury law since 1999. Recently, he was the only lawyer in Australia to be ranked in the top category of ‘leading’ in all three compensation law areas of public liability, workers’ compensation and motor vehicle law in the reputable and independent national Doyle’s Guide.
For more information, visit www.schultzlaw.com.au.
|TRAVIS’S TOP FIVE TIPS TO FINDING THE BEST LAWYER|
1. Specialist expertise
If you need a knee replacement it makes sense to see a specialist orthopaedic surgeon, rather than a GP. The same is true in the legal profession, so look for a law firm that has Accredited Specialists in their field.
2. Accolades and referrals
Even though we live in a digital age, recommendations from someone we know or another trusted source are always going to carry more weight than doing random online research. Doyle’s Guide is a respected annual listing of the best firms and lawyers in Australia. Their rankings are based on peer-based surveys and extensive interviews with clients, with final positions determined on volume and the quality of positive feedback.
3. Affordable and fair fee structure
Have you ever booked what you thought was a “cheap” airfare, only to be hit with unexpected fees when you went to pay?
The government sets a cap on professional fees of 50% of the settlement amount, but at Travis Schultz Law we feel this is way too high. We set our own cap of 33% (and usually charge much less) to ensure our valued clients end up with the lion’s share of their settlement.
No-one likes nasty surprises, so imagine if you had to pay up to 25% more on top of the firm’s normal charges after entering into a No Win, No Pay conditional costs agreement.
Believe it or not, firms are allowed to charge these “uplift” fees to compensate for the risk and payment delay they’ve entered into by being hired under a No Win, No Pay guarantee.
5. Personal service
Imagine you had paid for a consultation with a senior orthopaedic surgeon and then a trainee doctor stepped into the operating room, scalpel at the ready. Not really what you were expecting and not good enough, am I right? You deserve personal and exceptional service.