Published: 23 June 2017
City vs Country? Stringer Clark encourages injured clients to seek legal advice close to home
There has been a growing trend over the past decade of country patients being referred to big city law firms as a result of attending our State’s major hospitals for treatment.
Recently another local client attended our Colac branch who had had an appointment made for them to see a Melbourne law firm by a social worker at a Melbourne Hospital.
Fortunately the client’s wife was a previous client of our firm. She knew we had the expertise to deal with her husband’s claim locally. She realised after an arduous day of travelling to Melbourne on public transport to attend a meeting with a lawyer, which meant they left in the early hours of the day and returned in the late evening, that it made a lot more sense to seek advice locally.
Their local treating GP also encouraged them to seek legal advice locally when the wife conveyed that the recent trip had been particularly challenging for her badly injured husband.
So why did they see a Melbourne lawyer when they knew lawyers existed locally?
Our client’s wife said that they felt very vulnerable, trying to come to terms with her husband’s serious injury and simply followed the advice of the social worker without thinking it through. She said: “The social worker advised that my husband needed to see a lawyer and that she would make the appointment for us.” During a stressful time in hospital, it’s common for people to follow the advice they receive without question.
When our client attended the Melbourne lawyer he felt pressured to sign a cost agreement on the spot. The costs were daunting and it was a lot to take in during a first interview. He was then worried that he was unable to seek advice from another lawyer because he had signed documents. Fortunately as they acted quite quickly in realising they wanted to see a local lawyer no costs will have been incurred.
Why it pays to see a lawyer closer to home
At Stringer Clark we intimately understand how vulnerable people are when they are coming to terms with a serious injury, and they are simply trying to deal with the day-to-day issues associated with being in hospital away from your hometown.
We also believe it is our duty to raise awareness amongst people in regional Victoria, that it is not advised to rush into seeing a Melbourne lawyer. Instead, it may make more sense to wait and see your local lawyer when you return home and to consider all your options. Alternately, if you need urgent advice we can always arrange to attend a localhospital to visit you, or to arrange an appointment via phone. The reality is that the most important thing in the early days is to concentrate on receiving appropriate medical treatment to aide in your recovery.
There are many benefits to seeing a local lawyer. Lawyers working locally often have existing relationships with your health care providers, they understand where you work and live and how injuries can effect you in different ways to city dwellers. This attention to detail can effectively make or break a case. Local lawyers are also available for appointments at locations closer to where you live, which is more convenient. Furthermore, you don’t have to endure the stress and expense associated with travelling for appointments.
In addition, there are many wider benefits to seeing a local lawyer including supporting the local economy, and keeping our offices open which employ local cleaners, administrative staff and lawyers who all work and live in our communities.
Can city law firms offer more than local firms?
Stringer Clark guarantees the same or more for locals than any city firm. We consider ourselves truly local lawyers as we have offices in Colac, Ballarat, Warrnambool, Portland, Horsham, Ararat, Hamilton and Cobden. This means we have access to a local network of brilliant legal minds when we need it. In addition we are strongly connected with the Melbourne office of Ryan Carlisle Thomas, so we can access Melbourne resources if ever required.
Stringer Clark was established more than 100 years ago to help local people fight for their legal rights. This means we also have enough local people to acknowledge and refer our service that there is no need to travel to the city.
In the same way the vast majority of us wouldn’t consider driving to Melbourne to visit our accountant, bookkeeper or hairdresser – we urge local people to seek local legal counsel when they are experiencing difficult circumstances. We have and will continue to look after local people.