Published: 07 February 2017
Five insights from working with people injured on our roads
Having worked in law for 19 years, it’s always sobering returning to the office and knowing that given the nature of our work we will see many stories of hardship unfold each year. This is comforted with the knowledge that we can play a critical role in helping many deserving people to piece their lives together again.
Some of our most fulfilling but at the same time harrowing work is in personal injury assisting in clients' recovery from road trauma. We regularly see clients and families whose lives have been turned upside down as the result of one false move on the road – or worse, due to the false move of another driver.
Road trauma has increased
While the Andrews Labor Government has declared 2017 will be Victoria’s year of action against road fatalities, the facts are our state is in its third-straight year of increased road deaths.
In 2016, 291 people lost their lives to road fatalities – 39 more than in 2015.
The Victorian Government has promised “record levels of investment in safe roads infrastructure and road policing in 2017 and has invested $1.2 billion in the Towards Zero Action Plan across the state.
According to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Country Victorians are four times more likely to be killed and 40 per cent more likely to be seriously injured on regional Victorian roads. Motorcycle rider fatalities were the biggest contributor to the rise last year, and increased by 90 per cent compared to 2015. Risky behaviours including speed, illicit drug use, lack of protective gear and unlicensed riding were responsible for the majority of rider deaths.
As lawyers, we witness the carnage created by road accidents. We’ve seen family members lose loved ones, young people with crippling lifelong injuries, motorcyclists who have lost limbs, older drivers who have lost all confidence, and the list goes on.
Sometimes the most valuable lessons come from those who didn’t intend to give them, and although each client has a unique story, they also often share the same insights following their experience with road trauma. These include:
- “I wish I’d paid more attention on the road.”
- “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.”
- “I’m stronger for this experience but I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy.”
- “I appreciate the small things.”
- “I’m grateful you can help me as I’m going to need it.”
Stringer Clark’s role in country road trauma
The ultimate victory would be to see no Victorians suffer injury on the roads. However, history, data and human nature tell us this is unlikely to be the case.
It is often confronting and challenging for a client to relive and retell their story but it proves worthwhile as this enables us to give expert advice designed to help them receive just and adequate compensation. Although compensation may not remove the pain, it can help client's get on with the rest of their lives.
We are experienced in the workings of the law and the TAC, which runs public campaigns for road safety and is essentially an insurer responsible for helping those injured on the road to recover and be looked after financially.
We help client's fight their corner by navigating a complex legal space with the TAC, when they are often at a crossroad in life and both physically and psychologically challenged by the road trauma. We ensure client's don’t get short-changed and help them secure the best results - and this is what gets us out of bed and into the office each and every day.
Meanwhile, we share the TAC’s vision for safer roads. Be safe on our roads in 2017.