The human aspects of personal injury law will be a focus of today’s Queensland Law Society (QLS) Conference in Brisbane.
The one-day event includes a range of practical sessions dedicated to managing claims through to sessions covering current and topical content such as the medical and legal aspects of concussions.
It was opened by QLS Immediate Past President Kara Thomson, who said personal injuries law was an area where there was always a development happening, whether it be legislative changes or updated case law.
“Today, our program will explore some of these reviews, reforms and their impacts in more detail – as well as unpacking what might be termed the more ‘human’ aspects of our work,” she said.
“As personal injuries practitioners, both claimants and defendants turn to us for advice, reassurance, and comfort at what can be some of the most confronting and challenging times in their lives.
“While brain and head injury compensation claims abound in our area of practice, the issue has been brought more sharply into focus over the last few years as sporting codes implement their own concussion protocols, and an increasing number of retired players all over the world continue to unveil their personal experiences of the long-term impacts.”
Special Counsel Amanda Gilmour from Shine Lawyers Head Trauma Unit will be part of a panel discussion on the concussion ecosystem this afternoon.
Amanda spoke to Proctor about her area of experience and what participants could expect from the session.
Could you tell us about the Head Trauma Unit at Shine?
“Approximately five years ago, Shine Lawyers noted the variety of head injury that exists as a result of car accidents, work accidents and public place accidents and decided to develop a specialist team to assist those clients with their personal injury claims.
“Our team deals with the spectrum of all head injuries – from concussion and mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) to severe traumatic brain injury, arising out of car accidents, work accidents and public place accidents.
“The area of sporting injuries at a professional level and class actions is a growing area.”
Why did you decide to specialise in this area?
“I have been a plaintiff personal injury lawyer for over 15 years and enjoy helping people who have been injured through no fault of their own to achieve an outcome which can assist them with treatment and get them back on their feet as much as possible.
“Approximately three years ago I decided to join the Head Trauma team to specialise in assisting those with brain injuries and it has been very satisfying to work in this area.”
Are some sports more prone to injury?
“Generally, any contact sports are prone to injury but we do find that some are more prone to head injuries than others due to the plays and forces involved. For example, all types of football generally see a higher incidence of head injuries than say golf or tennis.”
It seems a lot of teams, especially in rugby league, are resting players before finals to ensure players aren’t concussed. So is this issue impacting more sports?
“Certainly, concussion and head injuries are more recognised these days and the high-level national leagues have concussion policies in place to ensure they are looking after the safety of their players.
“We do need to make sure that this level of knowledge and policy in how to manage concussion and head injuries is disseminated to other sports at all levels, from the grassroots up.”
Are any particular age groups impacted?
“We seem to be seeing a lot of the older retired sportsmen suffering from symptoms. The research in relation to head injuries is increasing and we are seeing the long-term impact of concussions and head injuries in sports players.
“It’s really important that this research is continued and the benefits of identifying and managing concussion and head injuries is available to all players to minimise those long term impacts.”
Has there been a reduction in crash-related trauma as cars become safer and governments target road safety?
“Over the years, we have seen a general reduction in injuries sustained from car accidents but such injuries still do exist and it’s incredibly important that those injured parties are able to obtain early treatment and rehabilitation to try and achieve the best possible outcome during their recovery.”
What do you hope participants at the conference take away?
“Concussion is a very topical area currently and there is scope for personal injury lawyers to learn more about how concussion can be managed, the long-term effects of it and the potential future legal aspects that may arise with sporting claims and class actions.”