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How to navigate a motor vehicle accident claim

Getting into an accident is the last thing you think of happening when you go out on the road. On top of the shock of the event, you also need to consider the costs involved along with what is covered and what isn’t.  

Regardless of whether you are partly at fault for the accident or the victim of reckless driving, there is a procedure you can follow to ensure the entire bill is not your responsibility. In this article, we will dive into the details of a motor vehicle accident claim so you are prepared for the worst. 

Making a motor vehicle claim after an accident

If you are injured in an accident, first seek medical help. Your safety after the accident should take precedence over anything else.  

Secondly, take as many photos of the road accident as possible. Take pictures of your motor vehicle, your injuries — if there are any — and of the property damage to the other car. This way, when you do make a motor vehicle claim, you’ll have evidence to back up your account. 

Property damage includes damages to things like cars, clothing, suitcases, etc. 

You will also want to collect information for the other party involved in the accident, such as their name, address, driver’s licence number and car registration plates. Even if they are uninsured, you will have their information, which will help attempt to cover some of the costs. 

Next, you will need to contact your insurance to inform them of the accident and make a claim.  

It’s important to note that you do not want to argue with the other party in the accident about who was at fault nor admit that you may have been at fault. Your insurance and possibly the police will determine the level of fault for both parties. Often, you may have only partially been at fault because of reasons outside of your understanding of what happened. 

Whether or not to contact the police

Not every accident needs to have a police officer present. Here are some instances in which you are required to call the police within 24 hours of the accident:

  • If a motor vehicle was towed or carried away by another vehicle.
  • If you did not give your information to the other party. 
  • If anyone is injured or killed in the accident.
  • If the estimated cost of damage to all property, including fences or a pole, is $3,000 or more ( if the damage was only done to your vehicle this does not apply).

 While you may not need to report the accident to the police, doing so is advisable so that your insurance company can more easily file your claim using the police report number associated with you. 

Requirements for claiming motor accident compensation by state

To make a personal injury claim or a motor vehicle claim, you will need to prove the other party was negligent. Simply being injured after an accident will not qualify you for compensation alone. Instead, you, or your motor vehicle accident lawyer, will need to prove that due to the other party’s reckless driving, loss of control of the vehicle or maintenance state caused the accident to happen, resulting in an injury. 

Every state, however, offers motor vehicle accident compensation differently. Each differs based on how they regard fault and what the requirements are in the case of an accident. A no-fault scheme state, in which accidents and injuries are considered inevitable, the state is simply looking to help you cover the costs. A fault state, or tort liability system state, will dig into the level of fault by each party.

Northern Territory

The agency that oversees the scheme for the Northern Territory is the Territory Insurance Office (TIO). This is a no-fault state. However, if you are injured, benefits can cover your loss of ability to work plus medical expenses. You can also claim an impairment payment benefit if you are 5% or more impaired.

Victoria

Transport Accident Commission (TAC) is Victoria’s claims agency, considering common law damages, or quality of life damages, for serious injuries. Victoria is both a fault and no-fault state. If the accident is determined to be your fault, you can still make an injury claim for medical expenses, a lump sum or loss earnings. If the accident was the other party’s fault, you will be compensated additional amounts for pain and suffering as well as lost wages.

There are two requirements for making an injury claim: A claimant must report the accident to the police and must lodge the claim within 12 months or up to three years, depending on when the injury has manifested, after the accident. The claim must be submitted before you take any legal action. 

Australian Capital Territory

Overseeing claims for the Australian Capital Territory is the Australian Capital Territory Compulsory Third-Party Regulator. This is a fault scheme state but will compensate you up to $5,000 for up to six months while they determine where the fault lies. 

The requirements for making an injury claim include:

  • Giving written notice to the at-fault party’s insurer within 6 months.
  • Completing a Motor Accident Notification Form.
  • Claiming within 28 days of the accident.
  • Announcing the claim within three months if you know who is at fault. 
  • Reporting the accident to the police. 

New South Wales

The claims agency overseeing each claim in New South Wales is the Motor Accidents Authority (MAA). This is mostly a no-fault scheme state with some fault benefits where, in some cases, you may receive compensation. The claim must be a catastrophic injury and will cover lost earnings, medical expenses and lifetime care for up to six months.

Requirements for making a claim include: 

  • Submitting a Personal Injury Claim form within six months of the accident. 
  • Reporting the accident to the police.
  • Lodging an Accident Notification form within 28 days.

Western Australia

Overseeing Western Australia’s scheme is the Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA). It is purely a fault scheme state.

Requirements for making an injury claim include: 

  • Completing the Notices of Intention to Claim.
  • Reporting the accident to the police.

South Australia

The Motor Accident Commission agency oversees the scheme for South Australia, which is a fault scheme state. You can report common law damages for serious injuries. The only requirement to making a claim is the completion of the Approved Injury Claim and Prescribed Authority form within six months.

Queensland

The Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) is the agency overseeing Queensland’s claim schemes. This is a fault scheme state in which only common law damages are included. There are only two requirements to report an injury claim: the police must be called and you must file a Notice of Accident claim form. This form must be submitted within one month of first talking with a motor vehicle accident lawyer (if you choose to work with one). 

Tasmania

The agency overseeing Tasmania’s claims is the Motor Accidents Insurance Board (MAIB). This is a no-fault scheme in which the benefits can cover lost earnings, death, funeral expenses, medical expenses and even housekeeping.

The two requirements in this state include reporting the accident to the police in the case of injury and lodging a claim form within 12 months after the accident.

Types of motor vehicle accident claims

There are several different types of road accident claims you can submit when you speak with your insurer. The insurer will likely have a cap on how much they can pay you for your claim but it’s important to know which claim to file when speaking with them.

Types of claims include: 

  • Medical expenses (including past and future treatments).
  • Funeral costs. 
  • Psychological effects (such as driving trauma). 
  • Loss of support (such as a dependent losing their principal earner in the accident).
  • Loss of earnings (including a job loss). 

When you speak with your motor vehicle accident lawyer and the insurer, you can also specify which type of damage may have been suffered beyond personal injuries such as broken bones or shock. 

The types of compensation claims available for these types of damages include:

  • Loss of earning potential.
  • Medical expenses. 
  • Home modification and living assistance costs. 
  • Travel costs.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life.
  • Distress, pain and suffering.

While an insurer will want to give you as much compensation as possible, there are few factors they will ask to determine your level of fault, including:

  • If you were driving without a seatbelt. 
  • If you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • If you were a passenger to someone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Working with a motor vehicle accident lawyer

The legal steps you need to take following a road accident can quickly get overwhelming. If you or someone you know has experienced a motor vehicle accident or has suffered loss, injury or property damage in the last three years, you’ll want to reach out to a motor vehicle accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Sometimes an individual will need to face an unfair determination from an insurance company and just won’t have the experience a lawyer does to handle the process. A motor vehicle accident lawyer can support you through each step of the legal process and can stand up to fight companies trying to cheat you out of the compensation you deserve. 

A motor vehicle accident lawyer will also do the legwork for you by investigating a successful car accident claim. They will build a strong case for you and fight for your rights as the victim of a car accident. 

They can:

  • File a lawsuit against an insurance company refusing to negotiate compensation.
  • Build a personal injury claim with the other party’s insurance company.
  • Investigate the details of your car accident. 
  • Negotiate a fair settlement in the case of a low rate from the insurance company.
  • Represent you in court in the rare event the case is escalated.

There are numerous ways of finding information about accident claims on your own, but a lawyer in a time of crisis such as this can help you focus on the information you need, and ignore the precedents you don’t, when working on your case.

Gerard Malouf Partners are not only specialists but are one of the largest Australian firms dedicated to motor vehicle accident compensation, proudly having won in excess of $4 billion for our clients. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, give us a call today for no-obligation legal advice about your claim.

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