1. Discussing the situation with a personal injury lawyer and deciding whether to move forward with the claim.
If you don't already know of a good personal injury lawyer, check if anyone you know/trust can give you a referral. You'd then organise a meeting with the personal injury lawyer to discuss the situation in more detail. First appointments are usually free, so it gives you and your mum a chance to explain the details of the injury and what happened, find out more about your mum's claim and consider the available options. Questions your mum might like to ask are:
(a)Do I have a strong case?
(b)How much compensation am I likely to get?
(c)How much is this matter likely to cost me?
(d)How long will it likely take?
2. Gathering information and investigating further
Your personal injury lawyer will need further information to run the case and may gather further information about your claim (including hospital, medical, Medicare, tax and financial records), deal with any insurers, request medical reports, organise a medical examination, take witness statements and obtain specialist reports. Your lawyer should then be in a position to advise you of the best way forward and an assessment of the settlement amount you can reasonably expect.
3. Settlement or court hearings
Your mum's claim may be resolved without court action (usually through out-of-court settlement negotiations led by your lawyer). Even if legal proceedings are commenced, as a first step the parties usually go to mediation and the majority of cases settle at this point. A very small percentage of cases go to a court hearing. If this happens, your personal injury lawyer will prepare your case and educate you about what to expect in terms of court processes, duration, evidence and legal costs.
Because there are time limits on making personal injury claims (usually 3 years), its important that you help your mum as soon as you can. Apparently, the average time it takes for a workplace injury or motor vehicle accident claim to settle is 14 months. The actual time that it will take for your mum's particular claim will on the facts and complexity of her injury claim. Personal injury claims that go to court will take longer.
Yes Chrisp has provided an excellent overview of the steps you will need to go through, but each state will differ slightly. For example Queensland has very strict pre-litigation procedures which must be followed before you can institute proceedings. Your lawyer will explain all the relevant details to you, but as Chrisp says, get in early! Its very important you act on these things quickly and get the ball rolling so that you don't miss your opportunity.