Finding Justice for the Injured
Cape Argus – Workplace
13 August 2011
Tzvi Brivik is a specialist attorney who specialises in personal injury and Labour Law. He is a senior partner at Malcom Lyons and Brivik inc, a Cape Town Law firm. Brivik deals with patients who have been victims of medical malpractice or negligent acts.
What does your job entail?
we assist people who have suffered personal injury by unlawful acts of others such as patients injured in surgery or through the negligence of hospital staff, people who have been injured as a result of negligent driving of motor vehicles, poor construction of roads ,uneven pavements and deviations from building regulations, as well as patrons of restaurants and bars or customers at retail stores who have been harmed as a result of slipping on floors or defective products.
In almost all cases our clients will have suffered some loss by having to pay medical and hospital expenses or loss of earning by not being able to work in the same capacity or for a lengthy period of time we also ant for the dependants of persons killed in such incidents. Litigation in the high court is extremely expensive but we give but we give clients a mean of accessing justice by deferring the payment of our fees until successfully completing the case
What is your background?
A Bcom with three majors Law, Economics and Business Economics. I then completed an Honours Degree in Law at the University at Witwaterstrand. I have since attended numerous courses and seminars locally and internationally in order to increase my knowledge of medicine, anatomy, litigation practice and dispute settlement.
Describe a typical day?
The practice is a primarily a litigation practice which means that we spend most of the court term in and out of courts. We represent clients in Joburg, Pretoria , Cape Town, Durban, Grahamstown, Umatata , etc. When not in court time is spent in and out of the office preparing for trails. This means ensuring that we have all the evidence necessary to prove the case, such as medical records and medical evidence, experts opinion, eye witnesses evidence and seeing that documents are properly prepared for presentation in court.
What are the biggest challenges that you face at work?
Ensuring that we have all the information to access claims and assist our clients to prove their claim. It is often difficult to obtain information as it is often the party against whom the negligence must be proved which has the information required. It is also challenging to deal with injured persons, understanding their needs, their frustration and the emotional investment which each person has in their case.
What are your major rewards?
It is most satisfying when a case is successfully completed and a victim of another person’s negligence is given an aid such as a prosthetic arm, a wheelchair, renovations to a home, various accessories, a caregiver or whatever or whatever else it takes to place them in a position that they were prior to the harmful conduct, in so far as money can do so. Their lives will now be much easier.
What do you need to succeed as a personal injury attorney?
One needs to empathize with your client, be critical of the facts presented, be fastidious in preparing documents and considering them. In some cases we have to consider hundreds of pages of medical records to glean the one important fact which will ensure the success of the claim.
We need to be resolute and persistent and decisive. It is of course important to gain and have very good negotiating skills.
What are the minimum educational requirements for the job?
A legal degree . It is also helpful to have a acquire knowledge of anatomy and medicine to understand the clients injury and the likely prognosis.
What are the basic starting salary?
To practice law one has to complete a period of up to two years articles of clerkship with an attorney. This is an apprenticeship at a low salary. After qualifying salaries may start at around R10 000 per a month. Climbing much higher depending on the type of legal practice and the experience and ability of the attorney.