Defence Force Members

Top five questions to ask your lawyer at your first meeting


Hi. My name is Tim White, and I am a partner here at TGB, specialising in advising injured workers – specifically with military compensation claims and Comcare claims.

Having assisted injured workers for about 25 years, I want to share with you my top five questions you should raise with your lawyer at the first meeting. These questions are more relevant to people seeking legal assistance in relation to an injury claim.  They are applicable to a range of injury claims including work-related, motor vehicle accident or through some other means.

My top five questions are:

  1. How long will this process take? It is important that you are aware of the approximate length of time the job you are asking the lawyer to perform will take. Knowing this will ensure you can plan your work, finances and other aspects of your life going forward. Litigation can be lengthy so you should have a clear idea about the probable period involved to finalise your compensation claim.
  1. How much will this cost me? You need to be fully informed of the likely legal costs involved. In many instances it would not be possible to give a set figure.  However, you must be provided with a reasonable range of likely costs.  You should also be informed about the possibility of recovering costs from the insurer. It may be that you can recover some of your legal costs from the insurer or the other responsible party.
  1. What experience do you have in this particular area? It is reasonable to know the degree of experience the lawyer you are asking to assist you has with your type of problem. A lawyer should be open to informing you about the types of matters he or she has assisted clients with in the past and whether or not they are similar to your issues.
  1. What compensation might you receive from the process? You need to be aware of the potential outcomes before commencing.  An important ratio in my view is the one between the costs of a process vs the amount of compensation you will likely receive.  There should be a sensible relationship between the costs involved in undertaking an action and the likely benefit or outcome that it will achieve.  To be blunt it is pointless spending a lot of money for little reward or result. The outcome you hope to achieve should significantly exceed the costs in pursuing it.
  1. Are there any other major risks or downside you should be aware of? This in effect is a catch-all question ideally to allow you to be informed about any other significant risks in pursuing the process or litigation.  When making any decision it is important to be aware of the major downsides, not just the upside of a course of action.  

Wrap up

These are just five suggested questions that you should raise at the very first discussion you have with a lawyer that you are contemplating engaging.  These five questions are particularly focused on people seeking assistance with an injury compensation claim, but they do have application more broadly to people seeking legal advice for other reasons.  Having assisted thousands of injured people throughout Australia these are the main topics I openly discuss with my clients. Transparency is vital in a lawyer and client relationship and knowing the answers to these questions will greatly assist with achieving this.

Get in Touch!

To discuss anything in this article, please contact TGB partner Tim White. Tim specialises in military compensation claims for Defence Force members and Comcare claims for Commonwealth employees.

If you would like some advice on securing your entitlements,  get in touch with Tim on 1800 730 842 or via twhite@tgb.com.au.