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I was injured in a car accident. What are my rights?

I was injured in a car accident. What are my rights?

Being injured in a car accident can be extremely traumatising, whether your injuries are primarily physical or you suffer additional psychological harm. Fortunately, Australian law protects your rights as a car accident victim, and you have several paths to compensation. From schemes for victims of hit-and-run accidents to court settlements for serious injuries, there are multiple options for you to pursue.

However, trying to navigate the landscape of a personal injury claim in the aftermath of an accident can be difficult. It can be hard to keep up with the demands of a personal injury case as you also struggle to manage time off work, financial concerns, and medical care and/or rehabilitation. It’s completely understandable if you need help. 

At Gerard Malouf & Partners, our professional car accident injury lawyers can fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your motor accident, giving you peace of mind that your claim is being vigorously pursued.

What to do immediately following an accident

If you are involved in a motor accident, there are several things you should do immediately afterwards. You’ll want to talk to the other parties involved if possible, but don’t admit fault or absolve them of fault.

Stop to render aid 

It is illegal to leave the scene of a motor vehicle accident without making sure everyone is all right. You should stop, check yourself for injuries, then proceed to check on other involved parties and render aid if necessary to any injured person.

Call for medical assistance as well as ringing for the police if anyone is injured. This helps ensure that proper care is rendered on scene and that there is a record of the accident and injuries. Documentation can be critical to the successful pursuit of a personal injury claim after a motor accident. 

Collect information from the other party 

One of the very first actions after ascertaining who is injured and who needs medical care is to look at the other driver’s registration number and exchange additional information such as name, address, vehicle description, and CTP insurer data. 

If the other person’s vehicle is unregistered or uninsured, they may try to flee the scene rather than take responsibility. Snapping an image of their vehicle and plate number immediately can help you hold them accountable and assist you in pursuing your car accident compensation claim. 

If you can, take documentation of the scene

You can also take images of the scene from multiple directions and angles, to show how cars were situated and where landmarks are to help investigators reconstruct the motor accident. Also note the weather conditions, time of day, and other surrounding activity and note it down for the police. 

If it’s not safe to be in the roadway, you may need to move vehicles to the side of the road. Make sure to diagram and document the original position of the vehicles, using both a drawn sketch and photo images if possible. If there is property damage, document that as well as it may be part of a compensation claim.

Seek medical help

Even if you don’t need to be transported by ambulance from the scene, it is important to have your injuries documented and to seek medical help as soon as possible after your car accident. The same follows for any other accident victims who were with you, who may also need to file their own accident claim.

An injured victim may not feel pain at the time of the car accident, but can soon begin to experience the ramifications of soft tissue injuries in the days immediately after. Be prepared to revisit your doctor and request scans of your neck or spine if you feel pain from whiplash. All medical records can be useful for pursuing your road accident injury claim.

Your right to compensation

Your car accident lawyer will be your guide throughout the car crash compensation claim process. Evidence they will ask you for and may help you gather can include: 

  • Details of the accident, including any police reports, images and witness accounts of the motor accident. 
  • Details of your injury, including diagnoses, treatment, immediate medical bills and ongoing medical expenses like physical therapy, which may be part of your compensation claim.
  • CTP insurance information on everyone involved in the auto accident, including the contact information for the CTP insurer against whom an accident claim can be made, and what person held the car insurance policy at the time of the road accident.
  • Information on the company or government entity involved if the incident was a transport accident, as this can make personal injury claims more complex.
  • Data on financial losses related to the motor accident that can be part of your personal injury claim, like lost wages.
  • Details on your employer’s workers’ compensation process if you were driving a company car or on company business when the accident occurred. 

How fault is assigned 

Determining fault in a road accident for the purposes of settling a personal injury claim can be a multi-step process. In many cases, both drivers present at the scene of a motor accident will claim the other person is at fault. If there are witnesses, or camera evidence, this can help bolster a compensation claim. If not, the case may need investigation and fault will have to be determined by the Court. 

There are some basic rules surrounding who is at fault in common car accidents. In rear-end collisions, the car that hit from behind is typically liable if both cars were moving forward or the one in front was stationary. If a car rolls backward into another car, the car in front is at fault. 

If there is a multi-car pileup, the middle car may bear some fault if it was determined they were too close to the car before them.  If a car reverses into a stationary car, the driver of the moving vehicle is at fault, if both drivers are reversing, they are both at fault.  If a forward-moving car hits a stationary or parked car, the driver of the moving car is at fault. 

If you hit an animal, you may be at fault if it is a farm or domestic animal in a region that recognises Common Law, as the animal may have had the right of way. If you hit an unrestrained dog, you may be able to lodge an accident claim against its owner for not restraining their animal and allowing it to pose a hazard to drivers. 

If you drive into property you are liable for the damage, unless the property was unavoidably in the roadway (such as property falling off of the back of a vehicle during transport, in which case you may have a claim against the owner).

Do rights differ based on where you were in the accident?

You have rights no matter where you were in the accident.

  • If you are a motorist, you can lodge a claim against an at-fault driver to recover lost wages and super contributions as well as medical expenses and possible pain and suffering.
  • If you are a passenger and you were injured by the actions of the driver of your vehicle or another, you can file an insurance claim to help cover your injuries.
  • If you are a child who was injured in the course of a motor vehicle accident, your representative can lodge a claim on your behalf for medical bills and pain and suffering, if applicable.
  • If you are a motorcyclist or bicyclist and were not at fault, you can lodge an accident injury claim against a driver who hit you. 
  • If you are a pedestrian who has been hit by a vehicle, you can claim car accident compensation from the driver’s insurance policy.
  • If you are a property owner, you can lodge a claim for property damage assuming you did not leave or place (even unintentionally) your property in the roadway where it was a hazard.
  • If you were driving a company car or on work business at the time of the accident, you may be able to file a workers compensation claim after a car crash.

Compensation for a motor vehicle accident can cover a broad range of compensation levels. Depending on the severity of your injury, the strength of your case and evidence, and the long-lasting effects of your accident, your personal injury lawyer will give you the best estimate of what your compensation might be.

Don’t worry about whether or not you can afford a car accident lawyer. At Gerard Malouf & Partners, we work on a no-win, no-fee basis, that means we take your case to win it, and if we fail, you don’t owe us legal fees. When we do win, our fee comes out of the compensation we have won for you as agreed on beforehand. 

When to involve a lawyer

Ideally, you should enlist the help of a personal injury lawyer as soon as you know you’ve suffered an injury, to help ensure you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled. After all, an injury can mean lost wages, medical bills for immediate treatment, and even ongoing medical expenses if your injury causes chronic disability or pain.  

If you don’t engage a car accident lawyer right away, there are two points at which you may realise you need help from a professional with a solid grasp on personal injury law to help guide you to a successful award, or even more than one, if you qualify for CTP insurance claim and a workers compensation claim.

You receive a low payout offer from CTP insurance

CTP insurers typically make a very fast and very low offer as soon as you lodge your insurance claim. We strongly advise against taking this initial offer; it is almost never even close to what your compensation claim is worth. We can help you build your case and will fight for you to receive the full amount you deserve for your accident claim. 

The other party went ghost

If the other party fled the scene and you’re required to track them down, you can use the help of a law firm like Gerard Malouf & Partners. We can take the evidence you have and work to locate the perpetrator of the accident, and secure your compensation. 

A car accident can turn your life upside down, but worrying about compensation shouldn’t be another thing on your plate. A qualified motor vehicle accident lawyer can take care of the ins and outs of lodging and pursuing a claim while you focus on recovery. Need help claiming compensation for a motor vehicle accident injury? Contact us for no-obligation legal advice about your claim.

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 — Personal Injury Compensation Lawyers

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