owly: (Default)
i will never, ever ever again organize a fucking event alone. seriously.

i have had no fucking assistance, and i'm so sick of dealing with men on telephones who continuously grunt "no".

i don't even want to go anymore. really.

fuck me.
owly: (catlovesfish)
i wrote this to someone about my experience of making a legal claim. i've removed some details that i wish to keep ultra private. i want to remember all of these things. i am very glad that i wrote this when i did.



my story, briefly:

my case was medical negligence, and i have lost more than half of my eyesight. i have no money, i'm on a disability pension. a friend gave me a cutting from a local newspaper for slater and gordon (the best known nowinnofee barristers in melbourne), i had a consultation with them, they wanted me to pay $500 or so to just meet with them in person, after a telephone meeting. obviously, i couldn't afford this. i found another firm that did nowinnofee, rogers and gaylard, and they took on my case immediately. that was in 1999. in 2003, that firm closed and they transferred me to an awesome firm called xxxxxxx xxxxxx. i settled my case about three months ago for $X. after fees and costs and disbursements, i had $X (figure less than half of the settlement's total) in my pocket. it took me six years and was the most stressful thing i have ever lived through, barring anything that i've ever experienced that wasn't of my own choosing.

my comments:

- no matter how much fine print you read, like people are telling you on LJ, you'll never know the cost of your proceedings until you receive the bill or the cheque after you either go to court or settle. this is because they'll probably take a percentage of your winnings (assuming you win), plus costs, plus disbursements, plus anything else they want. you end up paying for things like having a letter written on your behalf, appointments with specialists, your lawyers communications with witnesses and experts, and time spent collecting reports from various sources.

- be prepared to get rejected. unless you case has a high chance of being won, it's unlikely that a firm will take your case on a nowinnofeen basis. in the end, firms are in business and they need to invest in you. if your case is worth $5000, it's probably not going to be worth their while. this is hurtful but it's what you'll face.

- be prepared to spend years waiting for anything to happen.

- if you want to save some money, make it clear to your lawyers that you are keen to assist in anyway you can to preserve costs. this means you might make phone calls to various places on your own behalf to get reports and records sent out to your lawyers.
i saved about three thousand of my win by doing this.

- if you're poor, a good firm will assist you with funding, and will find you awesome barristers to represent you in court, to work with your lawyers in their work. in my case, i had an awesome QC (queens council) who after meeting me, hooked me up with a thing called law aid: http://www.lawaid.com.au/ and if you win, you pay them back the money they lent you for costs (not fees) plus 5.5% of your win. they are excellent.

- legal aid isn't going to help much unless you have a small and simple case, for example, if you must a court appearance for a drink driving charge. they are completely underfunded and understaffed, and if your case is serious, you owe it to yourself to seek out a well established, decent and understanding firm who are keen to protect and represent your interests. a good firm will not charge you to tell you if they will or won't take your case on.

- you'll be asked to sign a lot of things. make sure you read what you are signing. ask for copies. study them. none of it will make sense, unless you've done a degree in law or justice. ask as many questions as you need to. you're paying for their time. use it!

- trust your gut. take a risk if it won't ruin your life. in my case, if i had gone to court and lost my claim, the other party would have been able to demand that i pay their court costs for them. i decided this wouldn't be the end of the world. i could have gone bankrupt for 5 years, and then started my life over. i had/have no assets to lose. if you've got nothing to lose, then GO FOR YOUR LIFE!

- ask them (any law person) exactly what they mean when you don't understand a word or a concept. it's vital to follow what's being said, what's going on, even if you take an hour to understand a sentence, that is ok!

- don't expect that you'll have to go to court: most cases actually settle before you even have to go to court. this is very good news. a day in the county court costs around $13,500 and i was looking at least fourteen days of court time. if you do go to court, it can get more and more risky. things can go wrong and you can lose your claim because you mightn't be prepared for new evidence that the other party brings to the table.

- even if you win in court, it could be that you get nothing for your claim. imagine this: you've spent six years waiting for your 3 days in court. you spend 6 days in court instead and you win your case. you are awarded $75,000 for your claim. then you get the bill for $81,000 plus all of the legal fees for your barristers and lawyers. that means you're at least six thousand dollars in debt, even though you won your case. court is expensive and should be avoided at all costs.

handy links:

* i used the word "win" when describing what you get when you complete a successful claim - that is, when your case is won.

what sort of claim is yours if you don't mind me asking? also, if you only take one thing away from this email, let it be this: it's going to be impossible to know how much your claim will cost. if you're not comfy with that, maybe you shouldn't go forward with it.

i'm sure there's more i could think of but all of this is enough to overwhelm anybody so i'll stop! making a claim is a really big deal. it will change your life, and it will change you and make you realise how fucked up the legal system really is. it's nothing to do with what's right and what's wrong. it's got to do with men in funny wigs arguing in a strange language over things that seem irrelevent to your case.

i sincerely wish you the best of luck, and loads of courage.

feel free to mail me whenever.
it can be a very lonely and disheartening experience.
i know all about it.


owly: (Default)

August 2007

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