Attwood Marshall Lawyers Legal Practice Director Jeff Garrett joins Robyn Hyland on Law Talks on Radio 4CRB on Christmas Eve to discuss what lawyers experience at Christmas time and some of the legal issues that can arise during the holiday season.
What does Christmas time look like for lawyers?
December through to January is one of the busiest times of the year for most lawyers.
The festive season is not immune to significant life events and serious accidents, and if anything, can be a time of year there is an increase in the number of serious road accidents and workplace injuries that happen, as well as an increase in criminal activity, family disputes, and unfortunately the death of loved ones.
Not all law firms are open throughout the festive season. Many lawyers look forward to a well-earned break having not taken any time off during the year, particularly with the impact of COVID lockdowns. At Attwood Marshall Lawyers, we have lawyers available across all departments to ensure we can help anyone who needs urgent legal advice or assistance over the Christmas-New Year period.
There are five areas of law that generally experience a spike during through December-January.
- Motor vehicle accidents and CTP claims
Motor vehicle accidents and CTP claims tend to increase during this time with people travelling longer distances visiting friends and relatives, and the roads being more congested in general. There tends to be a lot more drinking at this time of year with some people taking more risks driving under the influence or speeding, as well as people driving tired, in combination with the wet weather season and storms contributing to serious accidents happening.
We take a look at some of the data available as we head into Christmas:
- During the month of November 2021, there were 96 road deaths across Australia.
- During the 12 months ending November 2021, there were 1,126 road deaths. This is an increase of 1.4 per cent from the previous 12-month period.
- Latest available data for the 12-month period, ending June 2019, tells us that between 2018-19, there were 39,755 people admitted to hospital with serious road crash injuries.
With many people travelling interstate now that borders are open once more, it is important for people to understand what to do if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident in another state and need to make a CTP claim.
If you are involved in an interstate road accident, the law of that state will apply.
In Queensland, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident you can make a CTP claim for damages against the compulsory third party insurer of the motor vehicle that was responsible for the accident.
However, if your accident occurs in another state or territory, then a claim for damages may be brought against an alternative insurer or commission. It is important to ensure you understand your rights, the claims process, and any time limitations that apply if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident over the Christmas period to ensure your claim will proceed smoothly.
2. Work-related injuries and illnesses
Although many people are clocking off for much needed time off over Christmas, for the staff remaining on call across all industries, they can be put under significant pressure, be overworked, and have less support on hand. We tend to see skeleton staff working through these periods be more prone to physical or psychological injuries because of the increased pressure put on them. With fewer staff taking on additional responsibilities, and sometimes responsibilities they may not necessarily be skilled or trained to do, the risk of injury increases. Add to the busy season the fact businesses and their employees are now required to monitor the vaccination status of their visitors, which has left them open to abuse and aggression from patrons, it is a recipe for disaster.
Separate to this issue is the ongoing concerns of the health and wellbeing of our hospital and healthcare workers. There are more and more reports of hospital staff and first responders experiencing high levels of work-related stress and burnout. Last month there were numerous articles about what nurses and health practitioners have faced during the pandemic. They have been on the front lines responding to COVID by testing, tracing, screening, isolating, vaccinating, and treating the disease, in addition to trying to keep up with the health demands for non-COVID related patients.
First responders and healthcare workers are already at their limit, and we know that Christmas time can be an exceptionally demanding time of year with more people being admitted to hospital with drug and alcohol related injuries and illnesses, motor vehicle accidents, and other diseases needing urgent medical attention. This puts extra pressure on the hospitals at a time COVID-19 is spreading throughout the community and expected to really test our healthcare system.
3. Family Law matters and domestic and family violence
Family law matters and domestic violence is a big issue at a time that is meant to be about coming together and celebrating Christmas. For some families, when they spend extended time together at Christmas, disputes can often arise. Whether it is disputes about children between separated parents, or couples being confronted with the breakdown of their relationship, so many family matters can come to the surface.
Another concerning trend we see repeat each Christmas is the increase in domestic and family violence. With people spending more time at home, or people more inclined to over-indulge in drinking or other substances, this can contribute to violent and abusive behaviour.
Most of the lawyers who act in this area make sure someone is available on call to assist if necessary knowing that these issues are significant during this time of year.
It is important to remember that domestic and family violence can take on so many different forms, including if someone is cutting you off from your friends or family, if someone is refusing to provide essential care and support for you, if someone is controlling your money, or if they say or do things that make you feel scared or unsafe. These are some of the more subtle forms of domestic and family violence, in addition to the more obvious acts of someone physically hurting you.
Anyone who is scared, worried, or feels unsafe, needs to know that they can seek help, even at Christmas time. We know this time of year isn’t festive for everyone!
This is one of the reasons why Attwood Marshall Lawyers have a 24/7 phone line so that if anyone needs assistance with a family law or domestic violence matter, our team can assist and provide fast legal action. If you need our support, please call 1800 621 071.
The following 24/7 helplines are also available if you are experiencing domestic and family violence:
- DV Connect Womensline (1800 811 811) offers emergency transport and accommodation as well as crisis counselling and interventions.
- The Domestic Violence Prevention Centre on the Gold Coast can be contacted on 5591 4222 or 5532 9000. They provide a wide range of programs to support women and their children and also work with men who perpetrate domestic and family violence.
- 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) is also available to provide support for people, friends and family experiencing or at risk of experiencing sexual assault, domestic or family violence. They also provide support for professionals who are supporting someone experiencing or at risk of sexual assault and domestic violence.
- Lifeline is a National charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis access to crisis support and suicide prevention services. They can be contacted on 13 11 14.
4. The death of a loved one
Unfortunately, many elderly family members who may be unwell or suffering from a terminal illness “hang on” until Christmas, only to pass away shortly after. For the family members who lose a loved one during Christmas-New Year, it can be difficult to know what to do and who to contact immediately after someone passes away.
When a loved one dies at Christmas time, it can be overwhelming trying to make funeral arrangements, locate the Will, or start the process of administering the estate, whilst navigating your way through public holidays and some businesses being closed (including the lawyers who may have the Will).
Our estate administration lawyers remain available over Christmas for this reason. We know people need assistance with these types of matters and we can help them move forward and get the process started.
5. Property and conveyancing
Even throughout the festive season, property remains high on many people’s wish lists. Queensland has had a record-breaking year on the property front, as have many other states and territories in the wake of the pandemic. There is anticipation that this activity will continue throughout the festive season and into the new year with interstate visitors taking advantage of being able to now enter the Sunshine State once more, no longer needing to buy property sight unseen.
Our property lawyers are always busy at the end of the year with many buyers and sellers eager to proceed to settlement quickly so that they are able to move house or settle into a new home before returning to work.
We know that people need to act fast in today’s property market when buying so our property lawyers are always on hand, even over Christmas and New Year, to give pre-signing advice so that people can make an informed decision and not miss out on securing their dream home.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers remains open throughout December and January
If any of the issues in this article impact you over the Christmas period, please know that our lawyers will be available to assist you across all areas of law and provide you with the advice you need.
Our Robina Town Centre office is also open Thursday nights and Saturday mornings for your convenience. You can make an appointment with one of our experienced lawyers any time by calling 1800 621 071, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by booking an appointment online.
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