Technology and the Law: Finding Metadata

I still get nightmares about the old dial up tone and I won’t long forget the shrill voices of my parents screaming at my siblings and I to get off the web so they could use the landline, however, I’ve been pretty lucky to witness the expansive growth of technology throughout my formative years.


I am categorised in the generation that knows everything about technology but what I have come to realise is that I might know a lot about how to operate technology, but I have little to no idea how it actually operates.
Take metadata, for example. Prior to starting my career at Maxiom Injury Lawyers in 2020, I didn’t have a clue what it meant. Now that I do, I can tell you I’ve never metadata I didn’t like.

What is Metadata?

Urban dictionary will tell you it is a fancy word for “information” invented by tech folks to make their jobs sound harder than they really are.

It is really just a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. Much like the iceberg that sank the titanic, what you see on the surface rarely indicates what is underneath.

Metadata and Personal Injury Litigation

As a personal injury lawyer, I review thousands of documents during the process of discovery. From time to time, some documents make me pause and question its authenticity.

Metadata only came onto my radar when I had a gut feeling something was NQR in one of our Workcover matters. Our client’s PIAWE (pre-injury average weekly earnings) calculation was incorrect as it didn’t include overtime. The Workcover Insurer advised that our client’s employer had provided employees with a notice five years ago which outlined that all overtime was cancelled and thus the calculation of overtime ought not be included.

As is the usual case, we had very different instructions. Our client was adamant he had never received such a notice, so we formally requested a copy from his employer. Once we received the notice, our client’s instructions didn’t change.  Despite having confirmation that the notice existed in front of me, I took my client’s word and decided to investigate.

Through my research, I found that there was a way to view the document history by simply checking the metadata. As you might’ve guessed, when I checked out the metadata of the document, I quickly realised that the document was created and amended that day, and not some five years ago.  

When we informed the insurer of our investigations, the argument disappeared faster than Harold Holt on a hot summer’s day down the coast, and our client’s PIAWE was calculated to correctly include the overtime allowances he was entitled to.

Technology has a major role to play in the way do business in law. You can’t always take someone’s word in real life and the same principles apply in the realm of technology. There is always more beneath the surface.

If everything were that simple, I might’ve accepted the email offers of various Princes to inherit their fortunes simply by providing my name, date of birth, bank details and TFN.

If you’ve made it this far, read on for a quick step-by-step guide on how to check the metadata of PDF documents:

STEP ONE:

Open the PDF File.

STEP TWO:

Select ‘File’ -> Properties.

STEP THREE:

Select ‘Additional Metadata’

STEP FOUR: Select ‘Description’. Here you will be able to see when the Document was first created and when/if it has been modified.

STEP FIVE:

Select ‘Advanced’ to see additional modification details.

Michaela Kennedy is a personal injury lawyer at Maxiom Injury Lawyers. Please contact us on 1800 85 30 85 or 0488 722 444 if we can assist with your personal injury claim.

MK Headshot - White

Finding my place in Law

I completed my schooling years at an Islamic school in Springvale and subsequently attained a double degree, Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Majoring in International Relations) at Deakin University. As part of my Law degree, I completed a unit in Personal Injuries and this enlivened my interest in the jurisdiction.

I have aspired to be a lawyer ever since the age of ten when I witnessed the most marginalised members in my community suffer due to a lack of awareness of their legal rights. I felt that becoming a lawyer would give me the necessary qualifications to help these people. As a lawyer, I have not only found a career that allows me to be an advocate for the disadvantaged, but I have also found a career where I am constantly learning and developing my skills.

For me, the real journey has been finding “my place” in law.

During my penultimate year at university, I was fortunate to secure an administration role at a large Plaintiff law firm. I was soon promoted to a paralegal position and in 2018 accepted into that firm’s graduate lawyer traineeship program. I was able to participate in learning and development activities and observe senior lawyers and barristers negotiate.  This experience provided me with a strong foundation to begin my journey as a Lawyer.

Whilst legal education and internships help develop the necessary technical skills, it was important for me to find a supportive mentor, one that would afford me opportunities, value my opinion and share their wealth of experience.

In July 2020 I saw an advertisement for an opportunity to work as a Lawyer at Maxiom Injury Lawyers. Maxiom was a NewLaw firm that I had observed to be agile and flexible, and disrupting the traditional model of a personal injury law firm. My research found that they were receiving great reviews from  clients, and this feedback demonstrated a very empathetic approach to the practice of law . The firm was founded by Sach Fernando, an Accredited Injury Law Specialist, whose career journey I had observed from afar. The opportunity arose during Melbourne’s lockdowns where most were concerned for their job security. Nonetheless, it was an opportunity I identified as one that would afford me valuable mentoring and allow me to grow my legal skills within a jurisdiction I am passionate about. Ultimately, the determining factor for me was the Principal Lawyer for whom I would be working with.

Having completed nearly twelve months at Maxiom, I can confidently say that I made the right decision. I have had significant mentoring, opportunities to present at conferences, negotiate directly with senior Defendant lawyers and to contribute to a positive culture at a firm whose values align with mine.

In addition to a fantastic mentor whose values align with mine, I have found my place where I am able to make a significant impact to the lives of my clients. In a boutique law firm, your efforts and contribution are valued. Everything you do makes a direct impact – to the firm itself and to the team you work with. When a case is resolved, your efforts are recognised and celebrated. I feel a great sense of pride knowing that my legal skills contributed to the outcome of my client’s case. Being able to see reward for my effort provides a sense of meaning and purpose. Similarly, I am an integral member of the team and have the opportunity to contribute to the growth of the firm including its culture.

Finding the right firm may take some trial and error, however I have discovered that it is the people at that firm and most importantly your mentor, that holds the key to your ultimate career success.

Zahida Popal

Solicitor at Maxiom Injury Lawyers

Zahida Popal

Common Law Damages Update: Plaintiff awarded $350,000 for spinal injuries

Maxiom’s Shane Don and Sach Fernando recently obtained an award of $350,000 on a Pain and Suffering basis for a man who sustained a serious lower back injury. The facts of this case are outlined below.

The Incident:

The Plaintiff was a 66-year-old man who was employed by the Defendant as a Sales Representative and Battery Delivery Person. Throughout the course of his employment, he was required to load his delivery van with batteries weighing up to 45 kilograms. He had to get inside the van and walk over the batteries sometimes to get them in the correct position.

In May 2010, whilst loading batteries inside the back of the van, the Plaintiff slipped and fell off a battery and landed on his right side.

As a result of the incident, the Plaintiff sustained intervertebral disc disruption at L4/5 and L5/S1, right leg sciatica, transient cauda-equina syndrome and soft tissue injuries to his right shoulder, right hip and right ankle.

Treatment:

The Plaintiff underwent extensive treatment, listed as follows:

  1. In September 2010, he had a right hip injection.
  2. In December 2010, he had an epidural steroid injection into his back.
  3. In August 2011, he underwent decompression of his lumbar spine at L4/5 and L5/S1.
  4. In August 2011, he underwent a further laminectomy surgery of his lower back.
  5. In December 2011, he underwent a posterior lumbar interbody fusion at L4/5 and L5/S1.
  6. In March 2016, he underwent removal of lumbar instrumentation and further decompression of spine, particularly on the right at L5/S1.
  7. In April 2018, he underwent an open removal of foreign body/hypodermic needle operation.
  8. In 2019, he completed a Pain Management Program.

Despite the treatment, the Plaintiff’s doctors opined that he had developed chronic lower back pain and that his prognosis is poor.

The Proceedings:

The Plaintiff had reached the age of retirement, which meant that he no longer had an entitlement to weekly payments.

The Plaintiff was granted leave to bring common law proceedings for the recovery of pain and suffering damages.

Pain and Suffering Consequences:

The Plaintiff’s consequences included, but were not limited to:

  1. Restriction in walking with the aid of crutches.
  2. It is almost impossible for him to do any exercise now and since his injury he had gained over 40 kilograms.
  3. His injuries have necessitated home modifications including ergonomic chairs, installation of a walk-in shower and handrails.
  4. Due to the cauda equina syndrome and disruptions in his lower extremities, he is required to wear adult nappies.
  5. He was no longer able to ride motorbikes as he did prior to the accident.

Negligence:

The case against the Defendant was primarily that he was required to carry out hazardous manual handling duties in circumstances where there as a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury. In addition, we submitted that:

  1. The Defendant failed to provide and maintain a safe system of work;
  2. The Defendant failed to provide the Plaintiff with proper instructions, supervision and training;
  3. The Defendant failed to take any reasonable steps to reduce the risk of injury, so far as was reasonably practicable; and
  4. Prior to the incident, the Plaintiff had identified a reasonably practicable alternative to the Defendant’s system of work, by placing a chipboard over the batteries to provide a stable surface on which to walk. The Defendant had instructed the Plaintiff to remove the chip board.

If you have been injured at work, we can help. Please call us on 1800 85 30 85 or 0488 722 444 for an obligation free discussion of your case.

Sach Fernando Upper Portrait
Shane Don Laywers