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Requirements necessary for car accident compensation

No one expects to get into a car accident when they drive. Unfortunately, accidents are a sad but common part of driving. Even if you are a safe driver, look both ways before crossing the street and always signal before making a turn on your bike, accidents can happen. According to a Budget Direct survey, about 64% of respondents said they had been involved in a car accident at some point.

It’s important to be prepared if or when you are involved in a crash. This article will explore steps you need to take to win a compensation claim after an accident. 

Common causes of car accidents

While the only thing you can control on the road is your own actions, knowing some of the common causes of car accidents can help you prevent one. Some accidents aren’t avoidable, but many can be stopped by knowing the right steps to take. 

Distracted driving occurs when a driver is not paying attention to the road. Their attention may be on a fussy child in the backseat, their mobile device or even a meal they are eating in the car. Any amount of time where your eyes are not on the road and your hands are not on the wheel can put your safety at risk.

Speeding is common on any road, and just about everyone has been guilty of driving 10 to 20 kilometres over the speed limit at some point. Keep in mind, however, that the faster you drive, the slower your reaction time becomes, especially if you’re weaving in between other cars on the road. 

Fatigued driving is a serious danger to yourself and others on the road. If you find yourself blinking yourself awake because of a long workday, poor sleep or a lack of stimulation on the road, it’s best to just pull over as soon as it’s safe and sleep it off. Being a bit late to wherever you’re heading is better than any level of falling asleep at the wheel. 

Drink driving is preventable but unfortunately takes many Australian lives every year. One or two drinks could be all it takes to push someone’s blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit. If your designated driver decides to just have a couple of drinks or you feel like you’re “fine” to drive, it’s always better to call a taxi. 

Reckless driving involves ignoring common safety practices on the road and instead deciding to perform dangerous manoeuvres such as:

  • Weaving in and out of traffic.
  • Tailgating.
  • Cutting off other drivers.
  • Running intersections.
  • Making improper turns.

If you see anyone driving like this on the road, it’s best to get away from where they are and give them space. It may also be prudent to call the police about the driver and see if they can safely get them off the road. 

This is not an exhaustive list but it could help you prepare for what to expect on the road and even prevent you from causing an accident yourself.

Evidence for your car accident case

If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, there are pieces of evidence you’ll need to support your claim. You should call the police right away, not only to seek medical attention for anyone involved in the crash but to also get a claim number from the police that will legitimise your accident to insurers.

When you call your insurance provider, they will give you a report number you should keep as a reference. Remember not to make any indications that you may have been at fault to anyone involved in the accident or your insurance company. Not only can this derail your car accident compensation claim but your perspective of the accident may not have been completely accurate. Deciding fault is on the shoulders of the insurance company. 

Take pictures or written documentation of the accident. This will be important evidence for supporting your version of the accident. Then, if your vehicle is in the way of traffic, move it if you can.

An important legal concept around an accident is called the burden of proof. If, in the unlikely event that your insurance claim becomes a civil lawsuit that makes it to trial, the injured party, known as the plaintiff, bears the burden of gathering evidence that the other party involved in the car accident is at fault and that the plaintiff suffered injury and damages. That means the injured person must obtain evidence that substantiates:

  • Your version of the events leading up to the road accident.
  • Your claim of physical injury.
  • Your claim on economic loss.

This evidence can consist of medical bills or reports, witness testimony and photo documentation of the motor vehicle accident. You may include additional evidence if you’ve filed a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. This can involve accident interrogatories where they must answer written questions under oath within a specific amount of time. 

Deposition testimony may also be included in a claim that goes to trial. This evidence consists of a recorded interview where the defendant tells their side of the accident. This can be helpful if their story changes while testifying in court. 

Claim eligibility

Your eligibility for redress is largely contingent on the severity of your injury and that the accident was the fault of the other driver either completely or partially. The claim is recorded against the compulsory third party (CTP) insurer of the at-fault driver. You can still make a claim with the CTP if you are partially at fault, but your compensation may be lessened. 

You are not eligible for personal injury compensation if you do not have an injury. You should, of course, make a claim with your car insurance company, but the goal of compensation claims is to cover injuries and suffering incurred after an accident. The insurance companies will handle vehicle details and attempt to get you a payout for repairs. 

There are two instances where an injured person may not be eligible for compensation: the injured person is the at-fault driver or no one was at fault. 

At the same, you may not be aware of an injury for a while due to shock after the accident. You can apply for road accident compensation within certain time limits depending on your state. Queensland grants three months if the vehicle cannot be identified. Otherwise, you will have nine months after the motor vehicle crash to file a claim, or at the first sign of injury symptoms. 

The best way to get ahead of any time limits on making a claim is to act right away. Gerard Malouf & Partners offers no-obligation personal injury law advice on claims so you can get the information you need. 

Uninsured drivers

Accidents where you are uninsured could cause significant financial damage. If you are partially or at fault for the accident, you will have to cover the costs out of pocket.

Furthermore, in accidents where the victim of the crash does not have insurance, insurance companies may have a harder time verifying who the at-fault party is, making compensation claims more complicated. 

Unregistered vehicles

If you were the victim of a car crash with an unregistered vehicle, you can make a claim against the statutory body of the CTP called Nominal Defendant, in order to seek compensation. This legal body operates to help people injured in a car crash when they do not have insurance. Every insured driver’s CTP is connected to their registered vehicle, so without registration, there is no insurance coverage and therefore the Nominal Defendant must step in. 

The at-fault, unlicensed driver will not affect your claim for compensation as long as the negligent driver’s vehicle was registered. 

Types of claims you can make after a car accident

There are two types of claims you can make after an accident: a personal injury claim and a property damage claim. 

Personal injury claims

Your personal injury claim involves all of the injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages and so on that you have incurred after the accident. Because your compensation will depend on the severity of your injuries, here is a brief overview of how insurance companies determine physical severity:

  • Minor: Soft tissue injuries like a sore back, whiplash and muscle injuries.
  • Non-minor: Fractures and organ damage like a broken arm or injuries requiring surgery.

Compensation entitlements also reflect your losses based on severity:

  • Minor injury: Income support, medical and home care expenses for up to six months.
  • Non-minor injury: Income support, medical and home care expenses for up to 24 months and a lump sum for past and future lost income.
  • Non-minor injury over 10% whole person impairment (WPI): Includes additional lump sum compensation for pain and suffering for injuries involving the back, head or neck, internal organs and occupational diseases.

The WPI is the percentage of injury resulting in disability to the entire body. 

You are eligible for a personal injury claim no matter how you were injured in the accident, from driver to pedestrian, you can still claim compensation eligibility. 

Property damage claims

A property damage claim is solely about your items that were damaged in the accident. This includes your vehicle, its contents and other damages, such as if you were riding a bike or motorcycle. 

A property damage (PD) claim moves a lot more quickly than a personal injury claim because the insurance company is paying for your rented car and wants to get you back into your own car as soon as possible. Most of the PD claim is handled over the phone and doesn’t involve excessive paperwork going back and forth.

Steps towards making a claim

Once you have all the necessary information, there are six steps you need to take to lodge an accident claim:

1. Report the crash to the police

After the accident, call the police by dialling 000. Note the reference or QP number for your report. Police involvement is important for proving to insurers that the claim is legitimate, with the authenticity of your report number serving as evidence. 

2. Meet the timeframe for your claim

This is largely based on the state or territory you live in. For the details on your timeframe, it’s best to connect with an injury lawyer. The law professionals at Gerard Malouf Partners are experts in car accident claims and can assist in any questions on the laws around Queensland, New South Wales, ACT and Victoria with no obligation to work together. 

3. Get the registration number of the vehicle that caused the accident

No matter how many vehicles were involved in the accident, you will need to write down the registration numbers of each vehicle. It will be helpful for the insurance company to identify the vehicle and the driver registered to it. If a vehicle is unregistered, you can lodge your claim against the Nominal Defendant which helps to compensate people involved in an accident with uninsured drivers.

4. Complete your claim form

This is not necessary for all states, but is required in Queensland. You must provide your CTP insurer with a claims form of the vehicle driven by the at-fault driver either within nine months after the accident or one month after speaking with a lawyer. From there, the insurer will have six months to determine liability. 

5. Gather supporting evidence

Evidence is key to supporting your claim and may be part of your accident claim form. You will need to gather your medical information, speak with witnesses, friends and family for their testimony and include pictures of the accident. 

6. Lodge your claim

Once you have covered all of these steps, you are ready to file a car accident claim. This is where you speak with a personal injury lawyer to help you lodge the claim and ask for advice. Describe the details of the accident and present your evidence and forms to help get the process moving as quickly as possible. It’s important to ask as many questions as you can so you have all of the information you need about the process. Even if the at-fault vehicle was uninsured, unregistered or unidentified, you may not be excluded from making a compensation claim

Resolution process

Once you make the claim with the police and your insurance company, the insurer will get back to you as soon as possible. They will then process the claim within a few weeks, after which you will begin to receive compensation for your medical recovery for up to six months or longer. 

You will likely receive payments for 95% of your wages if you are unable to work due to injuries for at least 13 weeks and up to 6 months. Between 14 weeks and 6 months thereafter, you may qualify for 80-85% of your weekly earnings. Injuries after 20 months will require a lump-sum claim which can extend your compensation for injury recovery longer than 24 months. 

While these steps are supposed to be relatively straightforward, there are some complications involved that are best navigated with a lawyer, such as knowing when to file a claim, and which forms, if any, you need to fill out. There are some cases where an insurance company may try to deny you compensation or even offer a lower amount than you need because you are having difficulty proving the severity of your injuries. 

If your claim comes to a point of contested compensation, your lawyer will be by your side, ready to support you through each step. 

An accident compensation lawyer from Gerard Malouf & Partners specialise in car accident compensation and are the largest in the field of compensation in Australia. Contact us for no-obligation legal advice about your car accident compensation claim.

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