What should you do if you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident?

Article Geraldine Daley AM 23 August 2017

What should you do if you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident?

Traffic accidents are an unfortunate part of life - particularly in a busy city like Sydney.  Minor accidents, in which no-one is hurt, are primarily an inconvenience.  Your car has to be fixed, it requires lodging a claim with your insurance company, or the other party's insurance company and it all takes time and patience!

However, if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, there are different procedures you should follow.  

1. The first thing you should do is to let the police know as soon as possible.   This is because if you haven’t reported the accident within 28 days and you later claim compensation for your injuries, you may have to take extra steps to prove that the delay was justified (which can sometimes be difficult).

2.  You should find out which insurer provides the green slip (CTP) insurance for the other car involved in the accident. To get this information, you need to get the car’s number plate and then call the Motor Accidents Authority on 1300 656 919.

3.  Either download a personal injury claim form from the Motor Accidents Authority website at www.msa.nsw.gov.au. or speak to an experienced lawyer about whether you are eligible to make a claim for compensation. 

When are you entitled to compensation?

Generally speaking, you will only be entitled to compensation if you were injured due to someone else’s negligence. This means that if you were solely responsible for causing the accident you generally won’t be entitled to compensation.

There are special rules that apply to children, who may be entitled to a payment even where they are solely to blame for the accident. There are also special entitlements that apply to anyone who suffers from spinal cord or brain injuries, multiple amputations, severe burns or permanent blindness, regardless of who is to blame.

What if you are partly to blame for the accident?

If you were partly to blame for the accident you may still be entitled to compensation. However, any compensation you’re entitled to may be reduced by a percentage, depending on how much you contributed to your loss. Your compensation is likely to be reduced, for example, if you were a passenger and weren’t wearing your seat belt, or if you accepted a ride from an intoxicated driver.

What information will you need to bring a claim?

If you’ve been injured and are considering bringing a claim, you should gather all of the relevant details and bring them along to your consultation with your solicitor so that your solicitor can fill out your injury claim form. This includes information about:

• the date, time and location of the accident

• the names and addresses of the people involved in the accident, as well as any witnesses

• the number plate, make, model and driver of any vehicles involved

• the police station at which the accident was reported and the event number

• details of any police action against people involved in the accident

• details of any hospital visits, including consultations with your treating doctors

• details of any lost wages

• details of any other accidents in which you have been involved

• copies of any hospital, ambulance, doctor, chemist and other bills

• your driver’s licence and Medicare numbers

• details of any workers compensation, social security, disability or other payments you have received as a result of the accident.

Will you have to go to court?

The majority of cases are either settled out of court, or resolved through an administrative process known as the Claims Assessment and Resolution Service (CARS) which is an informal adjudication process.

How much compensation will you get?

The amount of compensation that you’ll receive depends on how serious your injuries are and what loss you’ve suffered as a result. Generally, you may be entitled to compensation for:

• medical and similar expenses

• loss of earnings as well as the loss of opportunity to earn, up to a certain limit

• care or other services that you need

• modifications to your home or vehicle that you have had to make as a result of the accident.

If you have been seriously injured, you may also be entitled to compensation for non economic loss (pain and suffering) if your whole person impairment (WPI) has been assessed or agreed at greater than 10%.

For more information on motor vehicle accidents, contact the team at CDQ for advice.