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How to claim compensation after a car accident

Car accident compensation can come in many different forms. Depending on your level of injury or how much damage has been left after the crash, you could be eligible for benefits. Before your insurer can evaluate how much motor accident compensation you need to cover the costs of the road accident, they will first need to determine who was at fault.

Continue reading to learn why accident fault level is important to measure after an accident, how to make a claim and how much compensation you could be eligible for. 

Why is the level of fault important in a car accident claim

Dealing with an injury after an accident is more than just an inconvenience and process with your insurer. A severe wound can result in long-term or life-long effects. Your injuries could alter your quality of life and your ability to earn a regular income, making planning for the future stressful and even frightening. 

Understanding your rights as someone injured in an accident can help you prepare your compensation case. 

In most states and territories around Australia, the level of fault of each party involved in an accident is vital to measuring how much personal injury benefits the driver is eligible for. There are four different fault scenarios, including:

  • No-fault: Another party or obstacle is at fault for the accident and you are eligible to receive compensation for a personal injury claim. 
  • Partial-fault: You were partially responsible for an accident that caused you injury, such as failing to wear a seatbelt or driving at an unsafe speed. Your compensation will be reduced based on the percentage of fault you are responsible for. 
  • A-fault: If you were completely at fault for your car accident injury, a personal injury claim compensation will not be available to you. 
  • Blameless accident: You are still entitled to compensation under a personal injury claim. This could occur in situations where an unexpected mechanical part fails, a tree falls or an animal crosses the road. 

Along with these fault types, each state has its own laws and nuances for how fault will be evaluated. In New South Wales, for example, you can claim accident compensation for an injury as long as you were not committing an egregious driving offence in connection with the accident. You must have also been driving an insured vehicle to be eligible for accident injury benefits. However, there are other states like Queensland, where blame for the accident is essential for earning compensation. Any level of fault, and you could lose all benefits.

Working with CTP insurance

Your compulsory third party (CTP) insurer will assess your eligibility based on several factors — primarily the extent of your injuries and level of fault. The level of injury is categorised as either minor or non-minor. A minor injury could be a sore back or whiplash, whereas a non-minor injury involves damages like dismemberment or a broken bone. Injury level is measured by total body impairment and quantifies how much percentage of your mobility is available to you.

Pain and suffering can include any mental or emotional consequences of an accident and injuries. You could lose a lot more than your physical mobility due to injury, and the courts may take that into consideration as they measure how much compensation you need. You may claim pain and suffering, as an example, if you are no longer able to perform your job or enjoy the lifestyle you once did due to injury. 

A CTP claim is also based on your level of losses, such as income or quality of life. If your level of impairment includes 10% or more of your body, you can earn income support, medical expenses, home care expenses, physical therapy and pain and suffering. The compensation earned after an accident is meant to help you successfully lead a normal life.

TAC eligibility for compensation

Transport Accident Commission (TAC) insurance will cover injuries if you are hurt in an accident. A TAC claim is a type of CTP insurance specified only for the people of Victoria and focuses primarily on covering injuries or death. 

You must report the accident if you’ve been injured to the police to qualify for TAC compensation — unless the accident involved someone on a bicycle or a parked car. The insurer may require more information about the accident as well, such as location or third party information. 

Making a claim

Anyone involved and injured in a car accident can file for compensation. Qualified peoples include:

  • Drivers
  • Passengers
  • Riders and pillion passengers on a motorcycle
  • Pedestrians
  • Bicyclists 

Anyone from the above list can claim compensation for both physical and psychological injuries if it has impacted their ability to carry out their everyday life for any extent of time. 

You should consult a law professional before seeking legal action to discuss your level of eligibility. Because a lot can happen after an accident and the severity of your injury could be disputable, working with both your lawyer and your CTP insurer can help you get a clear assessment and an adequate level of coverage. 

To file a claim, you must speak with your insurer after an accident to get the case started. If you live in Queensland, you may also need to complete a claims form and provide supporting documents such as medical records. You and your lawyer can work through these steps together so you don’t miss anything you need to remain eligible for compensation. 

What to do after an accident

Immediately following an accident, there are several steps you need to take:

  • Call emergency services if necessary. 
  • Check yourself and anyone else in your car after the accident for injuries.
  • Ascertain if any physical injuries occurred to the other party.
  • Exchange contact information if all parties are able.
  • Record the make and model of the other vehicle involved.
  • Take photos of the area including the streets, marks made on the road by the accident and damages to your vehicle.
  • Record the police’s accident file number to share with the insurer.
  • Seek medical treatment or get a check-up even if you don’t see or feel any injuries.
  • Speak with a lawyer.

Getting an evaluation from a medical professional after an accident, even if you don’t see or feel any injuries, can help you down the line. Some injuries take a while to set in or manifest and you want to make sure you are covering your needs for the future. A concussion may not be obvious immediately after an accident. Yet following a meeting with a medical professional, they could notice the signs and even some internal bleeding before you feel any effects. Being extra cautious can help save your life.

Time limits to file a claim

The statutes of limitations vary across states and territories. However, filing within 28 days of your accident can keep you eligible no matter where you live or where the accident occurred. In most cases, however, you can file after you’ve noticed the injury. 

Compensation and level of injury

After your level of fault has been determined, your insurer will likely give you a monetary value for how much motor vehicle accident compensation you’ll be awarded. This may cover your immediate injuries, but may not always consider if you’re able to go back to work or the level of emotional damages you’ve incurred as a result of the accident. 

The level of injury will determine how much or for how long you will continue to receive benefits. Compensation could come in the form of direct deposits to your account on a timely basis or in one lump sum to cover past and future expenses. 

If your injury is considered minor, you should be able to recover from the injury within six months. During that time, you’ll be eligible for income support, as well as medical and home care coverage. Minor injuries do not qualify for lump-sum payouts. 

There are instances where an injury can worsen over time. In these cases, a new evaluation will occur and compensation will shift to cover you — especially if your injuries are reclassified as non-minor. 

If your injuries are non-minor or develop into more serious complications, you can apply for pain and suffering compensation to cover your needs. This can make you eligible for a lump sum payout that could be substantial. 

Pain and suffering compensation is meant to help you return to normal life as much as possible and cover your future loss of earnings. It’s largely based on your level of total body impairment and can vary greatly depending on your previous lifestyle prior to the accident. 

From file to payout: timeline

If you’ve lodged your claim on time and you’re waiting on compensation, there could be a reason it’s taking a while to finalise. Your claim may be delayed for the following reasons:

  • Your injuries have not healed or stabilised yet and the insurer isn’t clear on how much compensation will be adequate to cover your medical treatment and ongoing care. 
  • Your loss of earnings will need to be accurately calculated, including additional expenses due to the accident.
  • You have not had your injuries assessed by a medical professional. 

While you may accept an offer from your insurer for compensation, the payout does not show up in your account instantly. Your paperwork will need to be finalised, or the insurer may have a significant backlog. These delays are totally normal, but if you’re concerned about getting your compensation in a timely manner, you should contact a compensation lawyer as soon as possible. 

When to involve a lawyer

Working with a car accident lawyer can help you earn compensation that not only covers medical treatment and expenses, but economic loss as well. These expenses could come to fruition further down the line, and working with a law professional from the beginning can help you get ahead before your expenses begin to pile up. 

Additionally, your insurer may not have compensated you to the full extent of your injuries and damages. You may need support in proving pain and suffering or proving your injuries have worsened. 

A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the many steps involved with filing a compensation claim. There are forms and time limits involved that could hold you back from earning compensation when you need it. 

The law professionals at Gerard Malouf & Partners can help you get the compensation you need after a car accident. Give us a call today for a no-obligation consultation and we could get you on the road to recovery faster.

© 2022 
Gerard Malouf & Partners
 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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