Victims of motor accidents can suffer significantly from their injuries and may find it difficult to navigate the relevant processes to pursue a claim. Strict time limits apply when claiming compensation, so it is helpful to obtain legal advice as soon as possible to ensure you are aware of your rights.
In New South Wales, the compulsory third party scheme (CTP scheme) provides statutory benefits for those injured in a motor accident – the extent of benefits available vary depending on the circumstances and who was at fault for the accident.
The scheme covers drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and pillion passengers and may also apply to witnesses of accidents, family members who observe injuries or death, and dependants of injured persons.
The CTP scheme is regulated and administered by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA).
What to do if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident
If you are injured in a motor accident you should:
- obtain details of the other driver, if applicable;
- report the injury to the police as soon as possible but within 28 days of the accident;
- visit your general practitioner / hospital and obtain a medical certificate from the treating doctor;
- submit a claim form with the medical certificate and, if applicable, proof of income with SIRA.
What benefits are available?
Depending on your injuries and the circumstances of the accident, you may be entitled to:
- weekly income payments for loss of earnings;
- reasonable medical treatment costs including rehabilitation, physiotherapy, dental and pharmaceutical expenses;
- the costs of travelling to and from medical appointments;
- payment for domestic services.
Compensation for major injuries
In some cases, there may be an entitlement to pursue a common law damages claim. A common law damages claim must be made within three years of the accident. You should speak to a lawyer about the relevant thresholds and to determine your eligibility to pursue such a claim, in terms of who was at fault for the accident and any issues of contributory negligence.
An award of damages may include payments for economic loss and / or non-economic loss.
A person must have sustained a permanent impairment of greater than 10% to be eligible to claim non-economic loss, which includes payments for ‘pain and suffering’, emotional anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and activities, etc.
Economic loss includes payments for past or future loss of earnings or impaired earning capacity, accommodation and travel expenses for attending medical treatment, financial management expenses, and respite care services.
How a lawyer can help
Most motor accident claims can be finalised through settlement negotiations between the parties and / or their representatives, and only a small percentage of cases proceed to court. That said, it is important that when accepting a negotiated settlement, you are properly informed of your legal rights and full entitlements.
Obtaining legal assistance with your claim can help you make informed decisions to ensure that appropriate compensation is obtained to assist, as far as possible, with your emotional and financial recovery.