No one wants to be involved in a motor vehicle accident but our busy roads mean such accidents are a fact of life.
The obligation of drivers in Queensland to have compulsory third party (CTP) insurance means that those involved in a car accident may be able to make a compensation claim even where no-one was at fault. But if you are injured in an accident that was caused or partly caused by the failure of another road user to take reasonable care, then a claim for more extensive personal injury compensation is also possible.
A separate claim for the property damage to your vehicle may also be made, either through your own comprehensive insurer or the insurer of the party at fault.
Claims for compensation are assessed individually, with the amount you may be entitled to depending on the type and extent of your injury and your particular circumstances.
Motor vehicle accident personal injury claims will generally seek to compensate the claimant for the costs of medical treatment, rehabilitation, loss of income, cost of care and support services, and general damages (pain and suffering) based on an Injury Scale Value (see below). Other expenses may also be claimable depending on your individual case.
More detail on types of compensation
There is a lot to do when making a motor vehicle accident compensation claim, and statutory time limits apply, so it’s advisable to seek the help of a law firm with wide experience in compensation claims in order to save yourself stress, time and, ultimately, money.
The main types of compensation that can be awarded as a result of a motor vehicle accident are:
- General damages: An amount for the pain and suffering you’ve suffered as a result of the accident.
- Special damages: Medical and out of pocket expenses, including the cost of doctors, physio, counselling and chiropractic, both now and into the future.
- Lost income: Any amount you have lost in wages or business income as a result of the injuries you have suffered.
- Property damages: The cost of damages to your vehicle or property as a result of the accident.
It’s imperative that you keep all records, invoices and receipts of your medical treatment after an accident as this will be vital in your legal representative making a successful claim for compensation.
In Queensland, General Damages for personal injury claims are regulated by an Injury Scale Value (ISV) – a numerical value between 0 and 100 – determined on the type and severity of your injuries, and their impact on your life.
Property damage claims
In many cases the CTP insurer you claim from for your personal injuries as a result of the accident may be different from the insurer of the motor vehicle that caused the accident. In this case you may wish to pursue a separate claim for the damage to your car.
It’s important to be aware that any decision in a property damage case, for example, does not bind the parties in the personal injury case. That is, if the parties are adjudged to share 50/50 responsibility in the property damage claim, a badly injured claimant does not want this level of contributory negligence to apply to their personal injury claim.
When a motor vehicle is damaged in an accident, the owner of the vehicle can either claim from their own comprehensive insurer; pay for the cost of any repairs; or claim the cost of the repairs from the party at fault.
Unless the amount of damage is below the policy excess, it is usually advisable to simply refer the claim to your own insurer to handle.
If you believe the other party to the accident is liable for the damage to your car, you can make a claim against them for costs either for repair or in the event your car is write-off.
If your car can be repaired, you’ll need to get a written quote from qualified repairers for both labour and parts to repair the vehicle. Sourcing more than one quote is suggested in order to show you are asking for a reasonable amount. You can claim the lowest quote for repairs plus other necessary costs such as towing. If the car is a write off, you should get two written valuations from car yards, qualified panel beaters or other expert valuers for the car’s pre-accident value. You can then claim the lowest reasonable valuation for the pre-accident value less the salvage value (i.e. value of the wreck), and any other necessary costs (e.g. towing).
To make a claim, a letter of demand with copies of quotes or valuations will be sent to the driver of the other vehicle and to their insurer asking for payment within a fixed time period.
There are a number of time limits for claims for compensation arising from a motor vehicle accident.
For personal injury claims, you have three years in which to commence a claim in court. To protect your rights to make a claim, the claimant should give an insurer a Notice of Accident Claim Form within nine months of the accident, or within one month of consulting a legal professional about the claim (whichever time period is the earlier).
Surviving dependents can make a claim for the loss of their loved one in a motor vehicle accident by lodging a Notice of Accident Claim Form with the relevant CTP insurer within nine months of the date of the accident, or with the Nominal Defendant within three months if the at-fault motor vehicle cannot be identified.
Where the person who caused the damage can’t be identified or is uninsured, a claim against the Nominal Defendant is possible. Notification of the claim must be given to the Nominal Defendant within three months of the motor vehicle accident. If notice is not given within nine months of the accident, the claim will be statute-barred and prevent a claimant from bringing a claim.
You have up to six years after the accident to make a property damage claim.
If you miss these deadlines, exceptions can be made but you will need compelling evidence to support a late claim, such as the fact your symptoms from the accident-related injury emerged later or you were incapacitated by the injury before the time limit expired.
In all of these situations you should consult our Gold Coast personal injury lawyers to give your claim the best chance of success. We are experts in compensation claims and will do the most thorough job in collecting and presenting evidence supporting your claim and making sure you comply with the relevant time limits. Call us today on 07 5627 0321 for an obligation-free appointment.