The term “personal injury” refers to bodily or psychological harm inflicted on an individual through the neglectful conduct of an individual or organisation. Personal injury can have a profound impact on a person’s physical and mental health, as well as their ability to carry out daily activities.
In cases of psychological harm, the victim has the option to pursue damages for intangible losses, such as emotional distress, pain and suffering, and the decreased capacity to enjoy life. The primary aim of filing a personal injury claim — alongside assisting in recuperating financial losses — is helping the victim return to their pre-accident state to the greatest extent possible.
Types of personal injury claims
Instances of personal injury resulting from medical negligence may include incorrect or delayed diagnoses, surgical errors, or negligent medical treatment by healthcare providers or facilities.
Healthcare professionals are held to strict duty of care standards, and a violation of these standards may substantiate the grounds for a medical negligence claim. Personal injury compensation awarded in the event of a successful claim may cover a range of expenses and losses, including:
- Medical costs, comprising hospital bills, fees charged by physicians, expenses associated with medication, and the cost of rehabilitation.
- Lost wages, accounting for both current and future income, along with any other financial losses incurred as a direct consequence of the injury.
- Non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, among other psychological implications.
Due to the intricacy of these cases, medical negligence claims may take several months or even years to resolve.
If an individual’s safety is breached within the workplace as a result of negligence or non-compliance with safety regulations, they may be entitled to file a workplace injury claim and seek personal injury compensation for damages.
The criteria for a work injury claim include the following:
- The employer owed a duty of care to the employee or contractor.
- The employer breached this duty of care.
- There is a clear link between the breach of duty and the injuries or harm sustained by the individual.
As per Safe Work Australia, a statutory agency of the Australian Government, 88% of claims made across 2019/20 were related to musculoskeletal disorders and injuries; 40% of these were attributed to joint, ligament, muscle, and tendon injuries.
Other common workplace injuries that may warrant a personal injury claim are fractures, burns, cuts, and psychological injuries.
Motor vehicle accident
Personal injury claims related to motor vehicle accidents arise from instances where individuals fail to meet their duty of care obligations while using public roads. This applies to any mode of transportation used — whether driving a vehicle, riding a bicycle, or any other means of transport. Such claims may apply to pedestrians, passengers, and drivers involved in accidents.
While some motor vehicle claims can take less than a few months, the length of the claim process can span up to 18 months and increase depending on the complexity of the case. The difficulty and/or length of a claim may escalate in situations where multiple parties are involved or witness statements are conflicting.
Injuries in public settings
Those responsible for managing public spaces, such as offices, schools, and shopping centres, have a legal duty to maintain a safe environment. Public liability claims can be filed for personal injury caused by:
- Slip and fall accidents due to wet floors or uneven surfaces.
- Injuries caused by falling objects.
- Electrocution or burns caused by faulty wiring or equipment.
- Physical assaults due to inadequate security measures.
If an individual is injured in a public space, it may result in the inability to fulfil work obligations, causing financial and psychological harm. The victim may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses related to the injury, loss of past and future wages, and a lump sum payment relative to the suffering endured, among other possible recompenses.
Changes in personal injury claim legislation across jurisdictions
Specific legislation surrounding the four personal injury categories — medical negligence, work injuries, motor vehicle accident, and injuries in public settings — is largely determined at the state level:
- In New South Wales, personal injury claims are regulated by the Civil Liability Act 2022.
- In Victoria, personal injury claims are governed by three main pieces of legislation: The Wrongs Act 1958, the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 and Transport Accident Act 1986.
- In Queensland, the main legislation regulating personal injury claims is Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002.
- In South Australia, the Civil Liability Act 1936 is the primary piece of legislation governing personal injury claims.
State by state legislative differences can be observed through the following examples:
- In NSW, medical negligence claims must be initiated within three years of the injury date, whereas in Victoria, the limit is two years.
- Certain states, such as Queensland and Western Australia, may require pre-court procedures before filing a medical negligence claim.
- NSW has a no-fault scheme, which means individuals who sustain workplace injuries can receive compensation regardless of fault. However, in Queensland and Western Australia, injured employees may have to prove their employer’s responsibility for their injuries to be eligible for compensation.
The above is just three of numerous cross-state differences — if you’re considering pursuing a personal injury claim, speak with a local personal injury solicitor who is familiar with the laws and regulations in your state. This will help ensure you understand your rights and legal options specific to your region.
The qualification criteria for personal injury claims
Across all forms of personal injury claims, several key criteria are generally brought into consideration. These include:
- Duty of Care: A legal mandate that necessitates individuals to take reasonable actions to prevent harm to others. This duty holds relevance across various contexts, such as drivers complying with traffic regulations to avert accidents and healthcare providers meeting the expected standard of care in their profession to avoid medical negligence.
- Causation: To establish causation, it is necessary to provide evidence that proves how the defendant’s failure to fulfil their duty led to the plaintiff’s injury.
- Damages: To seek restitution for the harm sustained, evidence of the damages sustained by the claimant is required. Such damages may encompass a broad range of physical, emotional, or financial losses, such as medical expenses and/or loss of income, among others.
Additional considerations may also impact personal injury claims on a national scale, including, but not limited to:
- The statute of limitations, which establishes a timeframe within which such claims must be filed.
- The principle of contributory negligence, which can impact the extent of compensation awarded in cases where the claimant also bears some responsibility for their injury.
- The standard of proof, which determines the threshold of evidence required to establish a case in a court of law.
The legal process for personal injury claims
While the legal proceedings for a personal injury claim may vary depending on the state, the process typically consists of the following four stages:
Assuming that the injured person has received necessary medical attention, the next course of action would be to seek legal advice. A personal injury lawyer will evaluate the situation, assess the strength of the case, and offer advice on potential courses of action.
During this stage, relevant information and data on the case are gathered, which may include witness statements, medical records, and other essential documentation.
Based on the results of the investigation, the personal injury solicitor may attempt to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company representing the responsible party. Subsequently, the lawyer may offer guidance on whether the victim should accept the settlement or pursue additional legal action.
If efforts to reach a settlement agreement are unsuccessful, the case may proceed to litigation, which involves bringing the matter before a court of law.
Given the intricate nature of personal injury claims and their legal processes, expertise is required to increase the likelihood of a favourable outcome. The key to a successful personal injury claim lies in having proficient legal action and guidance to advocate for your best interests.
Personal injury compensation expectations
Below is an overview of compensation expectations for personal injury claims across several states. Please note that various factors come into play when determining how much compensation to expect, therefore legal counsel may be necessary.
Compensation for medical negligence claims
In NSW, misdiagnosis and treatment failure cases result in compensation for general damages averaging over $230,000. The compensation amount awarded can vary greatly, ranging from $50,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
GMP Law’s successful cases have ranged between $170-700k+. In cases involving significant brain and/or physical immobility/damage, this figure can increase significantly.
Compensation for motor vehicle injury claims
In Queensland, the average payouts for motor vehicle accidents are as follows: $62,400 for minor injuries, $157,200 for moderate injuries, and $368,000 for serious injuries.
In 2022, NSW saw 946M in total motor vehicle personal injury compensation, averaging $88,676. And while there’s no data on averages in Victoria, TAC Claims Statistics reveal that in 2017, the sum of no-fault compensations — which covers income replacements, lump sum impairment coverage, weekly and lump sum compensation — amounted to $281 million.
Compensation for public liability claims
NSW limits compensation to $551,100, QLD to $414,000, and Victoria — which are divided between economic and non-economic losses — to $660,973 and $3,884.10 respectively.
Compensation for work injury claims
Worksafe Australia manages compensation payouts for work-related injuries nationwide. Compensation averages vary by occupation, with the lowest being for accommodation and food services (around $6,000) and the highest for mining ($28,000), according to the 2021 Safe Work Australia Workers Compensation Arrangements.
The compensation a victim receives is determined based on the individual circumstances of their case, such as the severity of harm suffered, financial losses incurred and other relevant factors. Hence, the compensation amount can vary from the abovementioned averages.
The importance of expert legal counsel
All types of personal injury claims are intricate and demand the knowledge of a personal injury solicitor to assess the legal strength of the case, manoeuvre the legal system, and ensure that the harmed person gets just compensation for their losses and injuries.
If someone lacks the counsel and advocacy of an experienced personal injury lawyer, pursuing a personal injury claim and receiving the complete and equitable compensation that the law grants can be challenging.
At GMP, we can simplify the process, partnering with you to pursue the compensation you rightfully deserve. Additionally, we work on a contingency fee basis, guaranteeing that you won’t be charged any legal costs until we win your case and you obtain compensation. Thus, you can concentrate on your recovery while we manage the legal aspects of your case, free from financial concerns.
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