Your Complete Guide to Car Accident Compensation Claims

Your Complete Guide To Car Accident Compensation Claims

Car accidents happen frequently on our roads. At least 64% of adults with a driver’s license in Australia have experienced at least one road accident in their lives.

Being involved in a car accident can be a very daunting experience. In some cases, you may come out unscathed, but in other cases, the aftermath may result in significant physical and psychological injuries with lasting disabilities. And not to mention the financial burdens that may follow.

As you find your way around this moment in your life, it’s important to note that you may be eligible for compensation for both economic losses (medical & lost wages) and non-economic losses (pain and suffering).

You may be wondering, am I eligible for compensation? What steps should I take? What compensation is available to me?

In this guide, we’ll help you understand everything you need to know when making a car accident compensation claim so that you can get your life back on track.

Understanding Car Accident Compensation

A car accident happens when a motor vehicle collides with something else, whether another car, fixed object, or person. Accidents cause physical injuries, emotional pain, and even death.

Car accident compensation is a financial resolution to help car accident victims pay for damages and losses. This type of compensation is called statutory benefits, which covers loss of income, medical expenses and domestic care services. Lump sum compensation may also be available via Common Law Damages for more serious injuries.

As a car accident victim, it’s possible to file a claim and receive compensation under the NSW Compulsory Third Party (CTP) scheme.

The Role of Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance

CTP insurance, sometimes also referred to as a Green Slip, is an insurance scheme that protects drivers if they have been injured or killed in a motor vehicle accident. In NSW, there is a “no-fault” CTP Scheme, which means regardless of who is at fault can still be covered for medical expenses and loss of wages due to an accident.

Parties covered under the CTP scheme include:

  • The driver at fault
  • The other driver
  • Pedestrians
  • Passengers
  • Motorcyclists and cyclists

What is the process of making a car accident injury claim?

Filing a compensation claim for a motor vehicle accident can be a complicated process. This is why it’s important to know your next steps to remove any uncertainty. 

The process of making a car accident injury claim includes:

  1. Document the scene
  2. Seek medical assistance
  3. Report to the relevant authorities
  4. Complete a personal injury claim form
  5. Collect financial documents

Let’s take a closer look at each step below:

Document the scene

If you’re not badly hurt, start by collecting evidence as soon as the accident occurs. Take pictures and videos of the accident, capturing the vehicles and location of the accident. 

After that, talk to the parties involved and record their details, such as their vehicle’s registration, license number, insurance, and contact information. These details are important when filing for a compensation claim, so record them if possible.

Collecting contact details from any bystanders, passengers, pedestrians, or drivers who witnessed the accident is also recommended. If you find any liability issues down the line, you might have to reach out to them to provide a witness statement.

Seek medical assistance

Seeking medical assistance helps you get treatment for any injuries sustained from the accident. Ensure that you’ve received medical reports from the treating doctor and also obtain a certificate of fitness for work/certificate of capacity.

These medical records and supporting documentation will assist with your compensation claim.

Report to the relevant authorities

Report to the police as soon as possible. In case treatment for your injuries causes delays, the law requires you to report within 28 days of the accident.

You can report the accident by:

  • Calling 000 (Australia’s main emergency number) if you’re still at the scene of the accident
  • Calling 131 444 (NSW Police Assistance Line)
  • Physically going to a police station

Once you’ve reported, record the police event number. This number, starting with an “E”, is given to you after reporting the incident. You’ll need to use it to support your claim.

Complete a personal injury claim form

To file a car accident compensation claim, you first have to complete an application through a Personal Injury Claim form. This document is a provision under the NSW CTP scheme and can be found on the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) website.

You must complete this form and submit it to the CTP insurer within 3 months of the car accident. You may also be eligible to file it after this period but you’ll have to provide a satisfactory explanation for your delay. 

You can either do this yourself or our expert team can lodge this for you on your behalf. 

Collect financial documents

Since you’ll also be claiming financial losses, you’ll need to attach evidence that the injuries from the accident have a dire financial impact on your life. Here are some financial documents to collect to support your claim:

  • Medical treatment receipts, prescriptions, reports, and invoices
  • Bank statements and payslips demonstrating your income prior to the accident
  • Travel costs associated with medical treatment

You’ll have to attach these documents to the claim form

Understanding Car Accident Compensation

The importance of legal Representation

You can submit your own claim and receive compensation without legal representation. But the compensation amount is likely to be less than what you’re entitled to.

Legal representation will help you maximise your statutory benefits. Our team of Car Accident lawyers can help you:

  • Determine fault and dispute claims of fault
  • Lodge your compensation claim
  • Retrieve all relevant documentation required
  • Deal with insurance companies

Having a skilled legal team in your corner can help reduce the burden of the above and allow you to focus on your health.

How to choose the right lawyer for your case

Identifying the right lawyer to handle your motor vehicle accident compensation claim isn’t as straightforward as most people would think. Not every lawyer is an accident lawyer. Engaging a lawyer who isn’t experienced and knowledgeable in accident claims can complicate and prolong the claims process.

So, how do you identify the right lawyer for your case? Here are some questions to ask yourself when hiring a lawyer:

  • Is the lawyer experienced in car accident compensation claims?
  • Does the lawyer understand personal injury law?
  • What’s the lawyer’s reputation?
  • Do they have a past track record to show?
  • Are they experienced in negotiating with insurance companies?
  • What’s the cost agreement and is it filled with hidden charges?
  • Do they offer a free consultation?

This is where Alliance Compensation & Litigation Lawyers comes in. We have a strong team of lawyers who tick all the boxes when it comes to motor vehicle accident cases. We’ll help you get proper compensation. We’re your go-to advocates for getting your life back on track.

Eligibility Criteria for Car Accident Compensation Claims

Who is Eligible to make a claim?

If you’re in NSW and you’re involved in a car accident, you can file a compensation claim:

  • If you’re a driver, pedestrian, cyclist, passenger, or motorcyclist where the other driver was at fault
  • If you were partially at fault for the accident
  • If you were involved in a “blameless accident” where there were issues with the road, issues with the car, or when the other driver had a medical emergency

Are you eligible for compensation if you are at fault?

Even if you are at fault, you are still eligible to receive compensation for your injuries limited to a period of 52 weeks. However, the compensation you can expect will be lower than if you weren’t at fault. 

Time Limits on Filing a Claim

If an officer wasn’t at the scene of the accident, make sure you’ve reported the accident to the police within 28 days of the accident. After that, you should also complete a Personal Injury Claim form and submit it to the other vehicle’s CTP insurer within 28 days of the accident but no later than 3 months after the accident.

If this period lapses before you’ve submitted your claim, you might be required to provide a valid explanation for the delay. Besides, submitting the claim later could affect the compensation amount received.

Types of injuries you can claim for

The amount of money you can receive as car accident compensation depends on the type of injuries you get. Injuries are classified into two main categories:

  • Below threshold injuries
  • Above threshold injuries

These categories also determine the compensation amount. 

Below Threshold Injuries

Below-threshold injuries are typically “minor injuries”. They depend on the injury diagnosis and don’t reflect the emotional or psychological impacts. People with these injuries recover well, manage the symptoms independently, and return to their normal activities pretty fast.

Examples of below-threshold injuries include soft tissue injuries, such as sore back, muscle injuries, and whiplash. With this type of injury, the benefits you’re eligible for include home care expenses, medical bills, and income support for up to 12 months.

Above Threshold Injuries

Above-threshold injuries are more serious. They’re more demanding when it comes to treatment and have extended recovery times. 

These injuries include head or brain injuries, tendon ruptures, broken limbs, fractures, and injuries that need surgery treatment. With these injuries, you’re entitled to income support, home care, and medical expenses that can go up to 24 months if you’ve filed a claim for damages. You’re also eligible for a lump sum for lost income.

If your above-threshold injuries give you an over 10% permanent impairment, you may also get another lump sum for pain and suffering via common law damages.

Car Accident Compensation Payouts

What compensation is available when making a car accident injury claim? 

As you can already tell at this point, your payable compensation is based on the nature and severity of your injuries. Here’s a breakdown of the types of compensation payouts you’re eligible for:

  • Medical and rehabilitation expenses: The CTP insurer may pay for medical, dental, and pharmaceutical costs associated with treating car accident injuries. Ensure you send all your doctor and medical bills to the insurer. This amount is calculated based on the medical evidence determined by your treating doctor. The insurer might also reimburse you for money already spent on treatment expenses.
  • Loss of income support via weekly payments: You might also be eligible for a net loss of income compensation due to the injuries sustained in the accident. 
  • Home & domestic care expenses: The CTP insurer treats compensation for support services the same way as medical and rehabilitation expenses. 
  • Funeral Expenses in the event of a fatal accident: If the accident was fatal, the CTP insurer may also cover the funeral expenses for the deceased victims.

How is Car Accident Compensation Paid out? 

Several factors determine the accident compensation payout in NSW. They include:

  • The extent of injuries: As we saw earlier, below-threshold and above-threshold injuries have different payouts. Above-threshold injuries tend to have a higher compensation amount than below-threshold injuries since they are more expensive to treat and have more serious consequences.
  • Adherence to time limits: Don’t wait forever to file your motor vehicle compensation claim. If possible, file the claim immediately after the accident. Some insurance companies may take advantage of your delays to lowball you in hopes that you’ll accept a fast settlement.
  • Fault and liability: Generally, the compensation amount may be lower if you were partially or fully at fault for the accident. If the other party was fully at fault, you might get a higher payout.
  • Legal representation: Your lawyers play a huge role in determining your compensation amount. An experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer will prioritize your interests and negotiate with the insurer. If need be, they’ll also litigate your case in court to ensure maximum compensation.

Compensation via Common Law Damages

A common law claim for damages simply refers to a lump sum compensation for economic such as future loss of income and non-economic loss such as pain and suffering caused by your injuries. The total amount of compensation payable via common law damages depends on the extent of your injuries and their impact on your life.

This claim is made and paid through the at-fault driver’s CTP insurer. Accident victims can claim it on top of the entitlements they get from statutory benefits.

People who’re eligible for compensation via common law damages in NSW include:

  • Victims with more than minor injuries (above threshold) or with those with a permanent impairment of 10% or more
  • Victims not at fault for the accident
  • Victims involved in an accident caused by the negligence of the other driver

A compensation claim for common law damages must be made within three years of the car accident. If you claim after the period has lapsed, you must provide a satisfactory explanation for the delay.

You can make this claim by filling out the application form for damages under common law.

How long does it usually take for a claim to settle?

On average, it takes about 1.5 years from the date of the accident to the compensation payout. Most CTP insurers take a few weeks to investigate liability and calculate your compensation amount.

Accident victims might view this as a long time to wait for compensation, but insurers have valid reasons to take that long. However, it’s also an indication that you should collect all evidence and take the right steps when filing your compensation claim.

Case Study: $550,000 payout for a pedestrian client

One of our clients was a pedestrian walking along a road when a vehicle veered off its lane and hit our client. Our client suffered multiple severe injuries including concussion, facial abrasions and lacerations, broken teeth, strained neck and back, and PTSD. There was no doubt that the injuries were in the above-threshold category.

The injuries allowed us to file a Common Law Damages claim for economic and non-economic loss. To speed up the case, we requested the insurer to determine whether the victim was entitled to non-economic loss benefits. 

After lengthy discussions at the informal settlement conference, we managed to negotiate a $550,000 compensation payout for our client. 

The Role of Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Insurance companies are notorious for minimising the compensation payout for car accident victims. This is why you should pay attention to the evidence and documentation of the accident compensation claim. Many insurers will look for loopholes in your claim to avoid paying the full compensation.

This is where working with an expert car accident lawyer can help reduce the burden of dealing with insurance companies. Our expertise, gained from experience will enhance your compensation claim.

Besides, we’ve refined our negotiation skills through years of practice. We’ll leverage these skills and experience to get you fair compensation.

What to do if you disagree with the insurer’s decision

Sometimes, you aren’t happy with the decision made by the insurance company. The company might offer a lower payout or even deny the claim overall. The good thing is that the insurer’s decisions can be appealed.

You start by requesting an internal review from the insurer. This involves filling out paperwork declining the compensation offered by the insurer. The insurance company will have someone else not involved in the original decision review the matter and make another decision.

If the second decision is still not satisfactory, you can elevate the matter to SIRA through the Dispute Resolution Service. They will appoint an independent person to review the insurer’s decision on your behalf.

Alliance Compensation & Litigation Lawyers can take up your case and provide you with legal assistance through the appeal process to ensure you get a fair decision. 

What if it was a hit and run accident?

Sometimes, the at-fault driver drives away without stopping or leaving their contact details. According to the law, this is a criminal offense that could lead to heavy fines and even imprisonment.

But where do you actually start if you’re a victim of a hit-and-run accident?

Fortunately, the CTP scheme in NSW provides relief for hit-and-run accident victims through the Nominal Defendant scheme. The Nominal Defendant scheme helps victims of accidents caused by drivers whose vehicles are unregistered or unidentified.

Speak to our expert Car Accident Lawyers Today

It’s important to understand the car accident compensation process to help you cope with the post-accident life. While you can choose to walk this path alone, working with an experienced personal injury lawyer has numerous benefits. You get to focus on recovery and getting your life back together while the lawyer deals with the negotiations and legal aspects.

Alliance Compensation & Litigation Lawyers is the best partner to walk with you through these hard times. Give us a call today at (02) 8764 1776 / 1800 18 HELP and get access to accredited specialists.

Get in touch to find out more HERE … or call 02 8764 1776
We can help.
No win, no fee.
We can help.
No win, no fee.

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