Vehicle accidents happen every day and therefore comprise some of the most frequent types of legal claim made throughout the world. And while the frequency of car accidents might suggest related claims are a bit more cut-and-dried than other legal claims, this is unfortunately not the case.
Even when you were not the party to blame for the accident, there are still several steps you must take, time limits you need to be aware of, and requirements you need to adhere to in order to make a claim. If you don’t you can damage your claim or even bar yourself from making it.
Below are some of the steps people need to take when making a claim for motor accident compensation.
- Seek medical attention: First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself and the best way to do that is to see a medical professional, even if your injuries seem minor or even nonexistent. Some of the most serious injuries, like concussions, whiplash, spine and neck injuries, initially present with few or no symptoms but can worsen significantly over time, especially if left untreated. Secondly, you will want to establish the costs of these injuries. By receiving medical attention, you are establishing the history, severity and cost of treating those injuries. This is your proof of the financial toll of the accident on you.
- Report the accident to the police immediately: Whether it’s a small fender bender or a huge crash, accidents will need to be reported to the police within 28 days in order for you to be able to file a claim. Sometimes you may want to take the time to determine whether the accident caused enough damage to justify the claims process, but it is imperative to not wait too long and miss that 28-day window or you risk complications when filing.
- Send the claim to the insurer within three months of the accident: The Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 (NSW) that came into effect in December 2017 changed the time frame in which a Motor Accident Personal Injury Claim Form needs to be sent to the insurer from six months to three months. You can determine the insurer of the at-fault vehicle by contacting the Motor Accident Authority. It should be noted that if the claim form is not served within 28 days, then the injured person is not entitled to weekly benefits for any period prior to service of the claim form.
If you are off work and missing out on earnings because of an injury sustained in a motor accident, you may be entitled to income support payments which will be a percentage of your pre-accident earnings. For the first 13 weeks the maximum is 95 per cent and after 14 weeks, the maximum is 85 per cent (depending on whether you have total or partial loss of earning capacity).
After six months your income support payments will end if you were at fault or mostly at fault in causing the accident, or your injuries are assessed as ‘minor’. The legislation defines a minor injury as a soft tissue injury, such as whiplash, or a minor psychiatric or psychological injury, such as changes in mood and behaviour due to involvement in, or witnessing the accident.
- Retain the services of a lawyer: The claims process is complicated, stressful, and can be overwhelming to those without experience. In the aftermath of an accident, you should be focused on healing, not whether or not you’ve missed your filing deadline. An experienced lawyer will be familiar with the ins and outs of the claims process and will alleviate some of the stress of the experience by taking care of everything. More importantly, a lawyer will be able to coach you in how to talk to the insurance investigator who will be determining fault and ultimately how much compensation you are entitled to.
- Choose the ‘right’ lawyer: When deciding who you want to represent you, you should consider their experience, the type of law that they practise, their reputation in the community, and the way that they communicate with you. Your lawyer should be transparent about their fees and should be able to communicate in a way that works for you.
Gajic Lawyers are specialists in personal injury, with diverse experience in motor accident claims, public liability claim, medical negligence and more. If you have suffered because of an incident involving a motor vehicle, we can help you claim the compensation to which you’re entitled. Call us to assess your case today on 1800 413 755.