Woman’s car accident claim proceeds despite time limit lapse

Date: Mar 14, 2018

A recent car accident compensation case has highlighted the importance of having experienced personal injury lawyers working on your side.

The plaintiff’s statement of claim was filed more than 3.5 years after the original crash occurred. According to the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999, claims must be lodged within six months of the incident in NSW.

However, the Act allows people to claim after this deadline has passed if they can provide a full and satisfactory explanation for the delay.

But what does this mean in practice? And why is it important to ensure you have the best legal representation possible in these situations? Let’s examine the case in more detail for answers.

How did the accident occur?

In April 2014, the woman was riding as a front-seat passenger when another vehicle collided into the side of the car, causing her significant spinal injuries.

She was released from hospital in a back brace, which she was required to wear for six weeks.

The plaintiff’s health prior to the accident had been poor, as she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia two weeks prior to her 21st birthday.

Steroid treatments to combat the disease led to more problems, including bone degeneration that resulted in a double knee replacement in 2011. She later became addicted to opioid pain medications.

Why was the claim delayed?

District Court Judge Judith Gibson described the plaintiff as a simple young woman from a remote rural town who knew nothing about motor accident compensation and the relevant time restrictions.

The plaintiff only pursued a claim after falling pregnant and becoming concerned over her child’s financial future. The woman had previously been told she would not be able to have children due to the cancer treatments she received.

After her uncle told her about car accident injury damages, the woman sought legal advice. Unfortunately, the lawyer failed to inform her of the timeframes involved and subsequently left her file on a windowsill for over a month.

Further delays occurred when the plaintiff was forced to undergo an emergency caesarean to deliver her child because she was suffering renal failure.

Judge rejects insurer’s motion to dismiss

The defendant – the insurer that covered the driver of the car who caused the accident – attempted to get the claim thrown out because the statutory time limit had passed.

But Judge Gibson dismissed the motion, stating that the woman had given a full and satisfactory explanation for the delays.

Specifically, the plaintiff was unaware of the time restrictions, her lawyers had failed to provide adequate legal advice and she had experienced traumatic life events during the claims process.

“I am satisfied that the plaintiff’s explanation for the accident is full in that there is sufficient information before the court as to her reasons for not taking the actions necessary to progress the claim, steps which would have been taken more quickly if her solicitors had acted as they should,” the judge stated.

Pursuing car accident compensation in Australia

The plaintiff in this case is now free to proceed with her claim. Nevertheless, these issues could perhaps have been avoided with expert injury compensation lawyers handling the case.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers has overseen more than 16,000 successful injury claims since our inception, so please contact us today for a free consultation.

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