Someone in your family says, “Come on, let’s go to the shops… I’ll drive.” You agree and you both hop in the car and head off. On the way, you’re involved in a car accident in which you – travelling in the passenger seat – are injured.
Afterwards it’s clear that the accident is the fault of your family member. She turned right without properly checking whether there was traffic coming from the left, causing an oncoming car to crash into the door of the side on which you were travelling.
This is just an illustrative example of something that occurs regularly on our roads. For most people injured in this situation, the idea of making a compensation claim to cover lost income, medical expenses, or pain and suffering resulting from the accident is difficult. Naturally they do not wish to make a loved one answerable for the accident through a compensation claim, potentially affecting that family member’s finances, insurance premiums and much more.
But thanks to the presence of Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance schemes in Australia’s states and territories, this does not need to be the case, as we explain below.
Making a claim
While it’s understandable an injured passenger is reluctant to make a claim for compensation against a family member or close friend whose driving caused the accident, they need to be aware that the claim is actually made against the driver’s CTP insurer, not the driver personally.
This means that a successful compensation claim, including any legal expenses and other costs involved in making the claim, as well as any compensation amount, will be paid by the CTP insurer. The driver need not be involved in the claims process or any court proceedings (if necessary) to decide the claim.
Any reluctance to make such a claim should be overcome by understanding that the CTP insurer will conduct its own investigation into the accident and make its own decisions about who was at fault.
The investigation process can involve you as the passenger substantiating the nature and extent of your injury through an expert medical report. The CTP insurer may organise this medical examination in order to accurately identify your injuries, assess your claim, and provide appropriate compensation if the actions of the at-fault driver caused those injuries.
Will my claim increase the at-fault driver’s insurance premiums?
Another reason some passengers injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a loved one’s driving are reluctant to make a claim against them is because they fear in doing so they will cause the driver’s insurance premiums to rise.
And yes, the amount your loved one pays in car insurance premiums for property damage insurance may increase as a result of the accident, but this would happen anyway, independently of your claim for compensation. However, their registration amount or CTP insurance premiums are set by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission and are therefore separate and unaffected by the presence of personal injury claims being lodged against the CTP insurer.
What can be claimed?
The amount of compensation a passenger may be awarded will vary from case to case. Passengers in the same car who are injured in an accident, for example, may receive different amounts of compensation.
How much you might receive in compensation takes into account your age, income and how many years of your working life remain, as well as your out-of-pocket medical and rehab expenses to date, any need for domestic assistance from the time of the accident and into the future, as well as how well you recover from your injuries.
Why seek legal advice?
The key element in making a successful claim for compensation as an injured passenger is that you can prove your injuries were caused by the negligence of the at-fault driver. Doing so may require evidence such as specialist medical reports, witness accounts and police accident reports, all of which we at Lifestyle Injury Lawyers will gather on your behalf.
Again, if you have reluctance to make a claim because a close friend or family member was the at-fault driver, remember the claim is against his or her insurer, not the driver on their own. Be aware that CTP insurers’ are well resourced and, in many cases, will challenge a claim for compensation to reduce their liability. Because of this fact, you need an expert compensation lawyer who regularly deals with the methods used by CTP insurance companies.
Contact Lifestyle Injury Lawyers if you’ve been injured as a passenger in a motor vehicle accident. We will help explain the process and reassure you in the case that you were injured in an accident caused by the driving of a family member or friend. 07 5627 0321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.