Author: Fortitude Legal Admin

What Is Asbestosis?

Asbestosis is scarring of the inside of the lungs.  It occurs from breathing in asbestos dust.

There are different types of asbestos, some more toxic than others but all types of asbestos have been classified as cancer-producing.

When working with asbestos, fibres can be inhaled, the inhaled fibres get trapped in the lungs, eventually causing scarring and stiffening.

In some instances, exposure to asbestos can cause lung cancer or mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer.

The symptoms of asbestosis can occur 10-20 years after exposure and can include:

  • shortness of breath
  • crackling sounds when breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • dry cough
  • weight loss
  • swelling or ‘clubbing’ at the end of the fingers

Why Was Asbestos Used?

Asbestos is resistant to heat, fire and electricity and as such, was a commonly used product in building, construction and insulation, including use in fibro sheeting, drains, roofs and gutters.  Asbestos was also used in car parts including brake pads.  Asbestos was widely used in Australia from around 1940 to 1987.  It is now banned nation-wide.

Who Is At Risk?

  • Asbestos miners
  • Trades people who have worked with asbestos
  • Shipyard, wharf and power station workers
  • Workers at aluminium smelting plants
  • Relatives of asbestos workers who have come into contact with the asbestos eg:  when washing clothes
  • People who have conducted renovations of older homes containing asbestos

What Can I Do If Diagnosed With Asbestosis?

Compensation is able to be claimed in relation to asbestosis regardless of when the exposure to asbestos occurred.  Claims for damages as a result of asbestosis can include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of income, care expenses including gardening and nursing care, and out of pocket expenses such as travel to appointments.

In the event that a partner or family member dies as a result of the condition, a family member may still be able to claim compensation for the financial consequences of their loved one’s death.

If you, or someone you know, requires assistance with a compensation claim for asbestosis, contact Fortitude Legal to see the difference that we are able to make for your claim.  We will fight for you, explain your claim in clear terms, progress your claim promptly and minimise any inconvenience caused by the claims process.

Call us for a free, no obligation chat.

At Fortitude Legal – WE’RE IN YOUR CORNER

 

As with anything in life, preparation is key to winning your personal injury claim.  With a well-honed, award winning team like Fortitude Legal, our years of litigation experience have taught us what to expect when it comes to getting you the best financial outcome in your claim and to anticipate and be prepared for the moves of the Defendant’s lawyers.

Whilst most cases are resolved before Court, it is necessary that your lawyer thoroughly prepares your claim as though it were to proceed, in order to have the ammunition to negotiate with the Defendant’s lawyers.  Your lawyers shouldn’t be talking with the Defendant’s lawyers until they are fully appraised of both the strengths and weaknesses in your case.

At Fortitude Legal, our preparation of your case is thorough and methodical.  We leave no stone unturned.

Whilst there are many intricacies in each step along the way, the framework to ensure your claim is in the best shape to maximise your compensation includes:

  1. Ensure your injury is properly reported and Claim lodged (where applicable)
  2. Seek all appropriate medical treatment so the full extent of your injury and its consequences are known
  3. Meet with our lawyers promptly whilst your recollection is clear and comprehensive instructions can be obtained
  4. Let us ease the burden and provide you with the confidence to make the right decisions about your claim at the right time
  5. We then investigate, obtain and preserve all evidence required to give you the best chance of success
  6. We will arrange for your injuries to be assessed by the appropriate specialists and obtain the opinions needed to support your various forms of damages/compensation
  7. In WorkCover and TAC matters we will also provide support along the way for any annoying decisions the insurers may make about your entitlements, whilst still progressing your common law claim
  8. We will then endeavour to negotiate the best possible result for you or, where that’s not possible, proceed to Court upon your instruction and take the battle to the Defendant
  9. Once your claim is finalised, we remain here for you.  We know that settlement of your common law claim does not always mean the end of your dealings when your claim is either a transport accident or WorkCover so we want to be there for you into the future.

Call us for a free no obligation chat.  Don’t muck about with your rights

At Fortitude Legal – WE’RE IN YOUR CORNER!

As a cyclist, you may have entitlements under the transport accident scheme if you were injured as a result of a collision that was directly caused by the driving of a vehicle (including cars, buses, motorcycles, trains and trams).

It is important to note however that you may be covered as a cyclist in a number of additional scenarios including:

NEAR MISS – if the driving of a vehicle directly caused a need for you to take evasive action to avoid a collision and you ultimately suffer injury;
CAR-DOORING – an incident involving a collision between you as a cyclist and an open or opening door of a vehicle;
TRAVELLING TO OR FROM WORK – an incident involving a collision between you as a cyclist and a motor vehicle while you were travelling to or from your place of employment (the vehicle can be a parked or stationary vehicle);
COLLISION WITH A STATIONARY VEHICLE – an accident involving you as a cyclist and a stationary vehicle for accidents on or after 9 July 2014.

Furthermore, following ‘test case’ litigation in which Fortitude Legal’s Tom Burgoyne acted for the injured cyclist, the law with regard to collisions with stationary vehicles has changed for the better for cyclists across Victoria.

On 7 June 2018 a Bill was introduced into Victoria’s Parliament https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/cyclists-and-all-victorians-to-benefit-from-tac-changes/ to amend the transport accident legislation such that a collision between a cyclist and a parked or stationary vehicle will constitute a “transport accident” and not be confined to a situation where a cyclist is riding to or from work. After passing both Houses of Victoria’s Parliament on 20 September 2018, the Bill received Royal Assent on 25 September 2018 such that changes commenced on 26 September 2018.  The amendment has retrospective effect to 9 July 2014 and any cyclists injured in collisions with parked or stationary vehicles from that date will also be covered. This is referred to as “Rory’s Law”.

As a cyclist, you may be interested to read Tom’s article professionally published in the Law Institute Journal which called for a change to the law after Tom ran Rory’s test case https://www.liv.asn.au/Staying-Informed/LIJ/LIJ/Jan-Feb-2018/Cyclists-beware

The scheme surrounding transport accidents and your entitlements is complex and there are strict time limits that apply.  It is important that you get appropriate legal advice from the outset to ensure that your rights are protected.

We can help you navigate the scheme, maximise your entitlements and make the decisions that are right for your future.

If you have a query, please do not hesitate to contact our expert Transport Accident Team for a no obligation chat..

A. What Are Your Rights?

The Wrongs Act 1958 (‘the Act’) is the primary legislation in Victoria, which governs claims for personal injury where a person has been bitten by a dog (different legislation applies if the dog bite occurred at work and additional rights flow). As a victim of a dog attack, the Domestic Animals Act 1994 will also have application.

A person may be entitled to bring a common law compensation claim, which is also known as a “damages” claim, against a negligent party. If you were injured in a public area, your claim would be referred to as a “public liability” claim.

With a public liability claim, you must prove that a third party’s negligence was the cause of your injury.  This involves various elements including:

  1. Were you owed a duty by the other party?
  2. Did that party breach that duty? and
  3. Did that breach cause the incident to occur and in turn, you to suffer injury.

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 is of assistance here as it provides for a range of offences and liability in respect of dog attacks, thereby creating a statutory duty. (You still need to establish negligence in a  common law claim however).  There are references to a “restricted breed dog” (which are those noted on a prescribed list) and a “dangerous dog”, which is a dog so declared by the Council. If the dog in question was not declared a “dangerous dog” by the Council prior to the attack, the person in apparent control of the dog, whether or not they are the owner of the dog, at the time it attacks or bites a person and causes death or serious injury can be found guilty of an offence.

B. What does The Domestic Animals Act prescribe?

The Domestic Animals Act 1994 and associated Codes of Practice provide various laws and penalties pertaining to dogs and other animals including but not limited to:

– Dogs over 3 months old must be registered with the relevant Council and failure to do so can lead to a fine of up to 20 penalty units;
– Council can refuse to register a dog that is not desexed;
– For dogs found at large, an owner can be fined up to 10 penalty units;
– For dogs that are not defined as a “dangerous dog” or “restricted breed dog” and the dog attacks or bites a person or animal, the person in apparent control of the dog, whether or not the owner, can be liable for a penalty of up to 40 penalty units;
– If a dog rushes or chases any person, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time, whether or not the owner, can be liable for a penalty of up to 4 penalty units;
– Where the dog is defined as a “dangerous dog” or a “restricted breed dog” and it attacks or bites a person or animal, the person in apparent control of the dog at the time of attack or biting, whether or not the owner of the dog, can be liable to a term of imprisonment or a fine of up to 120 penalty units;
– There are some defences that apply.

One penalty unit in Victoria as at 1 July 2021 is $181.74.

The Courts are given quite broad powers in dealing with offences under this legislation, including but not limited to:
– The power to seize, take custody of, dispose of or destroy the dog;
– The power to prohibit ownership;
– The power to order that a person pay compensation for any damage caused by the conduct of the dog.

The Crimes Act 1958 also provides penalties for owners who fail to control a dangerous, menacing or restricted breed dog that kills a person or places a person in danger of death. Such penalties can be up to 10 years imprisonment.

C. So What is Local Council’s Role?

Local Councils are required to have in place a Domestic Animal Management Plan. For example, the City of Greater Geelong Domestic Animal Management Plan 2018-21 provides guidelines on how to promote and encourage responsible pet ownership, and manage issues around dogs and cats.  This Plan sets out work already underway and what the City hoped to improve through to 2021.  The City also has in places various policies including but not limited to Dogs Controls in Public Places Policy 11 December 2018 and how to Report a Dog at Large.

You will find Similar Plans in your region if you are not from the Geelong Region.  We are happy to assist you with this if you need help.

D. Dog Attacks – the Statistics in the City of Greater Geelong

With one of the largest animal populations of any Victorian Municipality, whilst the statistics are outdated, according to City of Greater Geelong Domestic Animal Management Plan 2018-21, there were 214 attacks between August 2016 and August 2017.

Dog attacks can have devastating consequences both from a physical and psychological perspective and can at times cause death.
In addition to the power of the Courts to award compensation under the Domestic Animals Act 1994 , a dog attack victim may have the right to bring a claim for damages as referred to above which may include a claim for medical expenses, loss of income and pain and suffering.  It does not matter whether or not the owner has been prosecuted in relation to the attack.

If you or someone you know has suffered injury as a result of a dog attack, please call us, we are experts in dog bite claims and are here to assist.

At Fortitude Legal – WE’RE IN YOUR CORNER!

 

 

We are thrilled to have been named Finalists in the Geelong Business Excellence Awards 2020.

Established by the Geelong Chamber of Commerce in 1986, the Awards recognise organisations that have achieved business excellence in the Geelong Region.

This year’s winners will be announced at an online presentation dinner on 15 October 2020.

In a year that has been challenging for many businesses in adapting to new work practices, this will be a night to look forward to celebrating the work that we get to do for our clients everyday.

Fortitude Legal were again named as Finalists in the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards for the 3rd year running in both the Regional/Suburban Law Firm of the Year Award and the NewLaw Firm of the Year Award.

NewLaw is where law firms adopt a model, process or tool that changes the way we deliver legal services. It works against the traditional notion of a law firm by implementing new processes and technologies that benefit both our clients in the delivery of legal services, and our team in the flexibility it creates.

The Australian Law Awards is regarded as the industry’s most prestigious accolades recognising excellence across the entire legal industry. The awards pinpoint professional development and innovation, showcasing both the individuals and firms which are leading the way in the industry.

 

The team at Fortitude Legal are thrilled to have been named winners at the Law Institute of Victoria’s 15th Annual Law Awards.

The Awards are the most prestigious legal awards program in the State celebrating the “best of the best” and publicly recognising those who demonstrate excellence in legal practice.

Named “Law Firm of the Year” in the Boutique category it was with much gratitude that our Managing Director, Katalin Blond , accepted the Award on behalf of our team recounting that “it was only a short while ago that a few of us dreamt of creating a law firm where we could be true to our values and purpose and fulfil our commitment to our clients without distraction. Fast forward less than 12 months and those dreams are now our reality”.

thanks to the Law Institute of Victoria for acknowledging our team in this way and to our Award sponsor, Clarence Workplaces

There is little doubt that our emergency service workers go above and beyond when carrying out their duties to assist, care for and protect individuals and the community when something goes wrong. It stands to reason that the psychological stress and pressure our front line workers can experience in the performance of their duties is significant.

It is therefore a very important step forward in tackling the mental health concerns of our emergency service workers that the Victorian Government has announced the introduction of a 12 month pilot program to enable these workers to access mental health treatment before a WorkCover claim has been accepted.

The introduction of this pilot will go some way to ensuring that these workers are supported and their mental health needs identified and treated from an early stage. Under the current Victorian WorkCover system, it can take many weeks before a WorkCover claim is accepted for a worker to access the treatment they need and even months when the claim has been rejected.

As WorkCover lawyers we see first hand how workers suffering from a mental health injury can experience more stress and even a worsening of their condition when they are not able to access the medical treatment they need at an early stage of their illness. Further, the stress and worry that can come from being out of pocket for treatment costs is likely to be eliminated for many workers with the introduction of this pilot program and may encourage emergency service workers to seek treatment early on which can only be a good thing.

Stage 1 of the pilot program will commence on 17 June 2019 where Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria Staff and volunteers experiencing a mental health injury will have access to reasonable medical expenses for treatment including GP visits, medication, psychological counselling and psychiatrist appointments.  From 1 July 2019 access will also be opened up to CFA and SES staff and volunteers, public sector nurses, child protection workers, corrections and youth justice workers.

The pilot program is likely to extend to current and former emergency service workers and volunteers. Further, where a WorkCover claim is rejected, emergency service workers will still be able to access reasonable medical expenses for a period of 13 weeks from the date the claim is lodged which is a positive initiative. It is hoped that once the 12 month pilot program concludes, access to payment of reasonable medical expenses will be expanded to all workers injured in Victoria experiencing a mental health injury.

There is still much more to be done in this space to ensure that our emergency service workers are protected, supported and cared for when they experience a mental health injury, but the pilot program is a move in the right direction.

Fleur Jackson

Director and Principal Lawyer

FORTITUDE LEGAL

Tom Burgoyne, Director and Principal Lawyer at our Geelong office has again been recognised for his outstanding service to the legal community, being named as Finalist in the Law Institute of Victoria 15th Annual Law Awards.

The Victorian Legal Awards are the most prestigious legal awards program in the State celebrating the “best of the best” and publicly recognising those who demonstrate excellence in legal practice.

Tom has been shortlisted for his feature article ‘Cyclist Beware’ published in the Law Institute Journal.  His article journaled the legal fight of Drysdale man, Rory Wilson, to highlight an anomaly in the law and seek justice following a devastating cycling accident in 2014.  Rory’s courage and Tom’s unwavering commitment were instrumental in having the law changed to benefit all cyclists injured in these circumstances.

This shortlisting has rounded off an exceptional 12 months for Tom, being named Winner in the category ‘Regional Lawyer of the Year’ in the 2018 Awards.

Our firm, Fortitude Legal, has also been named as a finalist in the category of Boutique Law Firm of the Year.   With a focus on regional Victoria we have adopted innovative initiatives to overcome the geographical challenges thrown up by regional practice, not limited to distance and isolation.

“Bringing to life our vision to provide exceptional legal services to Regional Victoria, I am both humbled and thrilled to have both myself and our entire team recognised in this way” said Mr Burgoyne.

Winners of the Awards will be announced at a gala dinner on 17 May 2019.

 

What is most important to the team at Fortitude Legal is to have clients who are happy with the conduct of their claim.  Clients who feel heard and respected and have trust in us to deliver the best results for them.  At Fortitude Legal we also aim to create a work environment that is both stimulating and fulfilling such that each member of our team loves to come to work each day and continue to fight the good fight.

We can’t deny however, that it’s pretty cool to be acknowledged by our peers for the work that we’re doing.  Fortitude Legal has recently been announced as a Finalist in the Law Institute of Victoria’s 15th Victorian Legal Awards in the category of Boutique Law Firm of the Year.  The Awards are dedicated to acknowledging the outstanding achievements of Victorian legal professionals.

Whilst every lawyer in our team has, over the years, either been a winner or finalist in the individual awards, there’s something really special about our entire team being acknowledged, as the work that we do every day is truly a team effort.  From opening mail and answering phones to the fabulous work done by our amazing and skilled support team, it is the care taken in each step of the process that allows us to deliver on our promises to our clients.

Thank you to the LIV for this acknowledgement and congratulations to the other firms that are finalists in this category.  We’re thrilled to be among you.