Do I have to go to court to get a settlement?


In the majority of personal injury claims arising in Queensland, claims are settled before they reach court. Dispute resolution, specifically through a process called a 'compulsory conference', often ensures that such matters are settled outside of the courtroom.

Compulsory Conferences Explained

A so called 'compulsory conference' is an avenue through which these settlements are frequently achieved.

A compulsory conference involves a face-to-face meeting between the injured party and the insurer of the entity or individual at fault for the accident. Conducted outside of the court (in a meeting room), these meetings are less intimidating, and they allow for open conversation.

  • What happens in a compulsory conference? In essence, both sides - you, with your legal counsel (appointed solicitor and barrister), and the insurer of the at-fault party (or their appointed legal representatives) - have an opportunity to present their positions on the incident and negotiate a settlement.
  • Who decides the outcome? Unlike in a courtroom setting, where a judge has the final say, the terms of the settlement in a compulsory conference can be mutually agreed upon by both parties.
  • Are these conclusions binding? Any agreement reached in a compulsory conference is legally binding.

Resolving disputes outside of court can result in quicker solutions, less costs, and can help in avoiding the stress and emotional toll that court proceedings often bring.

What if my case does go to court?

If the compulsory conference stage fails to achieve a suitable outcome then matters can proceed toward court. There are still opportunities to negotiate in the lead up to court but, when a matter goes to court, legal professionals and/or a judge are involved in determining the outcome.

Evidence, including medical records and witness statements, is carefully reviewed before the court provides a judgement. Based on this judgement, the outcomes can vary:

If you win the case:

  • Your compensation will be determined, taking into account factors like damage severity, loss of earnings, medical expenses, and future care costs.
  • The court orders the defendant (the party found to be liable) to pay the compensation decided.
  • In some cases, the defendant might also be required to cover some of your legal costs, although this can vary.

If you lose the case:

  • The court does not order any compensation to be paid to you.
  • You may be required to cover your own legal costs, and in some cases, may need to pay some or all of the other party's legal costs. While that risk is common in 'no win, no fee' agreements, Smith's Lawyers 'No Win, No Fee, No Catch' promise protects you from this risk, we would absorb these costs and there are no circumstances in which you can be left out of pocket.

In conclusion, while court proceedings do exist as a possible path for personal injury claims, Queensland's preference for amicable out-of-court settlements via compulsory conferences tends to be both practical and efficient for all parties involved.

Last updated:
February 22, 2024

Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For help understanding your rights, please call 1800 960 482 or request a free case review to talk to one of our lawyers today.

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