Am I entitled to damages for pain and suffering from a car crash

Published 21 Sep 2018

In the state of New South Wales (NSW), more than 30 people are hospitalised by motor crashes each day, according to NSW Government data.

If you have been involved in a car accident recently, you're probably wondering what a claim for pain and suffering is actually worth.

Here we discuss one of your options and entitlements.

Pain and suffering: A legal dictionary definition

In legal terms, the phrase 'pain and suffering' is defined as the physical or mental distress suffered from an injury for which one may seek damages in a lawsuit. This includes the temporary or permanent limitations on daily activity. Potential damages for pain and suffering are subjective, and the term falls under the umbrella of non-economic loss. The reward for this type of damages relates to aspects of your life that cannot be measured.

Do you qualify for non-economic loss damages?

Under Section 131 of The Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999, no damages may be rewarded for non-economic loss unless the degree of permanent impairment of the injured person (as a result of the injury caused by the motor accident) is greater than 10 per cent.

A person's entitlement to compensation for non-economic loss is determined by a medical test, otherwise known as a whole body impairment (WBI) assessment. Without this, the court may not award any damages.

At any stage during the proceedings, the court may refer the matter for an assessment to confirm the degree of permanent impairment. Here, a medical assessor may decline to make such judgements until they are satisfied that the injury caused by the accident has become permanent.

In order to prevent your claim being adjourned, it's vital you are honest about the extent of your injury so the medical assessor has the most understanding when completing your WBI.

What is the maximum that can be claimed under non-economic losses?

The potential reward for damages after suffering injury from a motor accident differs depending on the case and the severity of your injuries. According to The Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999, the maximum amount a court may award for non-economic loss is $284,000.

If you or someone you know has recently been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to find out what damages of non-economic loss you're entitled to.