Woman allowed to pursue delayed motor vehicle accident claim

Date: Jan 01, 2018

A District Court judge has allowed a woman to claim compensation more than five years after the original accident in which she allegedly hurt herself.

The Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 requires a plaintiff to give notice of a claim within six months of the incident, while legal proceedings must commence within three years.

However, Section 73 of the Act provides a caveat that enables claimants to pursue their case after the time limit has lapsed if they can provide a full and satisfactory explanation for the delay.

In this case, there were several reasons for the failure to claim on time. According to District Court documents, the plaintiff was:

  • Unaware of her eligibility to claim;
  • Incarcerated for some of the relevant time periods;
  • Diagnosed as having an IQ of 62 and unable to process complex tasks such as pursuing a claim; and
  • Homeless and difficult for her solicitors to contact.

District Court Judge David Wilson ruled these were adequate reasons for the delay.

What injuries did the accident cause?

Plaintiffs who reinstate a claim more than three years after the accident have another hurdle they must cross before their case can proceed.

They must prove the total compensation they are likely to receive is at least 25 per cent of the maximum amount awarded for non-economic losses on the date the incident occurred. The parties agreed the necessary threshold for this accident was $115,000.

The incident, in which the woman was a pedestrian struck by a car, allegedly caused extensive damage, including:

  • A closed head wound;
  • Brain damage;
  • Cervical spine injuries;
  • A broken forearm;
  • Lumbar spine injury; and
  • Pelvic problems.

The plaintiff is currently receiving a disability pension, but she was a sex worker prior to the accident who claimed earnings of $500 a day, or $3,500 a week.

Were the injuries serious enough to claim?

A medical expert examined the plaintiff and said the accident caused severe injuries to the lower back that would limit her ability to ever work again. The doctor assessed the woman’s permanent impairment at 20 per cent, with the need for spinal fusion surgery.

“Given the vast and seemingly serious nature of the injuries said to have been suffered by the plaintiff, the pessimistic opinion of [the medical practitioner] and the plaintiff’s young age, it is likely that any damages awarded would be substantial,” Judge Wilson stated.

As such, he granted the woman leave to proceed with her car accident compensation claim.

Have you been involved in a motor vehicle crash in the last six months? Please talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.