Motor vehicle accidents
What should I do if I have been injured in a car accident?
- Report the accident to the police
If you have been injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle (whether a car, motor cycle, truck or bus) regardless of your involvement in it (as a driver, passenger, pedestrian or cyclist), you should let the police know as soon as possible. This is because if you have not reported the accident within 28 days and you later claim benefits compensation for your injuries, you may have to prove that the delay was justified.
If the police did not attend the scene of the accident, you should call the Police Assistance Line on 131 444 to report the accident and to receive an event number. If the police do not give you an event number, take down the name of the police officer you spoke to and the date of the conversation because you may need it later on. Keep any photographs of the damage done to any vehicle and any contact details you may have for the driver of the vehicle you think caused the accident.
- Seek medical assistance
If you have been injured, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Your GP will assess your injury, prescribe treatment, make referrals and advise you about expected recovery pathways and timeframes. If you want to make a claim, you should ask your GP to complete a medical certificate demonstrating your fitness for work. The State Insurance Regulatory Authority’s (SIRA) Certificate of Fitness, which is the preferred form for these medical certificates, is available here.
Make sure you keep any medical receipts including medication expenses and allied health accounts (such as physiotherapy).
- Contact the relevant insurer and make the claim
If you wish to make a claim, this can only be made against the relevant insurer, which is the insurer of the vehicle that caused your accident. This may be the green slip (CTP) insurer of the vehicle you were travelling in or the insurer of another vehicle.
To get this information, you need the relevant vehicle’s license plate. You can then enter your details, the other car’s details and what you know about the accident into SIRA’s CTP Connect form, or contact CTP Assist on 1300 656 919 or via email at [email protected] for further assistance.
Further information about making a claim is available on SIRA’s website here.
You should be aware that there are strict time limits for making a motor accident personal injury claim. For example, if you were working at the time of the accident and cannot work because of your injuries, you have 28 days to make a claim otherwise you cannot be paid any weekly income support benefits from the date of the accident to the time you make your claim.
What compensation and benefits are available?
Under the current scheme applicable to accidents occurring on or after 1 December 2017, there are two types of claims that can be made:
- Claims for benefits set out in the legislation: this includes weekly income support benefits while you are unfit or partially fit for work and benefits for treatment and care you need for your accident-related injuries; and
- Claims for lump sum damages: this includes damages for non-economic loss (pain and suffering) and certain limited economic losses.
Almost anyone who is injured in a motor accident in NSW can claim benefits. This includes whether you were at fault in causing the accident, or if no one was at fault in causing the accident.
If your only injuries are minor injuries or your accident was caused wholly or mostly due to your own fault, benefits will be available for only 26 weeks (roughly six months) after the accident. If you have non-minor injuries and you were not wholly or mostly at fault, you can receive treatment and care benefits for life and weekly income support payments for up to five years.
If someone is killed in a motor vehicle accident, reasonable funeral expenses can be claimed from the relevant insurer regardless of whether the person killed was not at fault, was totally at fault or no one was at fault. A claim may also be made by those who were financially dependent on the deceased, but only if the person killed was not wholly at fault.
What if I disagree with the insurer’s decision?
Sometimes there can be disputes about compensation. If there is a dispute, you can contact SIRA’s CTP Assist team on 1300 656 919.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of a claim you have made to the insurer, or if there is a dispute about your claim by the insurer, you can request that the insurer conduct an internal review of the decision. You must apply within 28 days of the insurer’s original decision for an internal review. This step must be undertaken before you can commence external dispute resolution proceedings.
If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction through the internal review mechanism, there are dispute resolution pathways available to you through the Dispute Resolution Service (DRS), within SIRA. Further information about the DRS is available on the SIRA website or via CTP Assist.
How can a solicitor help?
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, your solicitor can help in many ways, including:
• advising you whether you should claim for benefits or compensation, including any time limits that apply,
• collecting the information you need to make a claim and helping you complete your claim form,
• helping you resolve any disputes that may arise with the insurer,
• helping you settle your damages claim out of court,
• commencing tribunal or court proceedings where your claim can’t be settled,
• arranging for expert witnesses, including doctors, to support your claim and if necessary give evidence on your behalf, and
• advising you on the details of the medical and claims assessment procedures.
Get in touch with a solicitor
If you do not yet have a solicitor, do not worry. We have made it easy to find one near you through our online Find a lawyer service.