Judge’s intervention keeps car accident compensation claim alive

Date: Feb 08, 2018

A man’s compensation claim for psychological injuries following a car accident has been given renewed hope after a Supreme Court judge was asked to intervene.

The plaintiff alleged that he suffered both physical injuries and permanent mental distress in the 2012 crash.

Successful car accident compensation claims can result in plaintiffs receiving damages for both economic and non-economic losses.

The former covers costs such as lost income, medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses, while the latter provides redress for less tangible aspects of a crash, including pain and suffering or disfigurement.

How are non-economic damages determined?

Compensation for non-economic losses is only available to people who sustain injuries that lead to a whole person impairment (WPI) level of more than 10 per cent. In other words, how severely has the accident impeded the individual’s overall functionality?

For this case, the man had to not only show that his psychological problems were the result of the crash, but also that they breached the 10 per cent WPI threshold.

Medical Assessment Service (MAS) officers from the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) often handle these claims.

The first medical assessor to evaluate the plaintiff determined that his psychological injuries were not the result of the accident. A second specialist said the man had a 19 per cent WPI from the crash, while a third and final assessor agreed with the first expert.

As a result, the man was told he was not entitled to non-economic damages.

Judge overrules SIRA officer

The plaintiff obtained further medical evidence after his claim was rejected and applied to SIRA for reassessment.

A proper officer turned down the man’s application, stating that cases will only be remitted if the plaintiff could put forward additional relevant information that could reasonably change the original outcome.

The officer believed the man’s new evidence did not meet this threshold as it was not materially different to other information the plaintiff had already submitted.

However, Justice Richard Button said the officer had mistakenly relied upon the wrong precedent case to provide guidance. A newer case had established different principles to apply when deciding what constitutes additional relevant information. Justice Button therefore set aside the MAS rejection and ordered that SIRA re-allocate the man’s case to a different proper officer for assessment.

The judge’s decision may not necessarily result in the plaintiff receiving damages for non-economic losses, but it will ensure his case is fairly assessed in accordance with the latest legislative developments.

Would you like to make a car accident compensation claim? Contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for a free consultation and expert legal advice.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.