Motor Accident Compensation

Injured in a Car Accident. Do I get compensation?

TGB Car Accident Lawyer Gary Allison outlines the compensation process and gives you tips for making a claim.

car-accident.jpg

TGB Motor Accident Lawyer Gary Allison outlines the compensation process and gives you tips for making a claim.

IMPORTANT: Major changes to South Australia’s compensation scheme start from 1 July, 2013. For people injured in accidents from 1 July onwards, entitlements change significantly. Click here to find out how.

Who is to blame for the accident?

The South Australian system is fault based, so you only have a claim if you are injured in an accident where someone else is at fault. Third party insurance doesn’t cover you against injuring yourself, such as driving into a tree or running yourself off the road.

Some people still mistakenly think that because they have third party injury insurance for their vehicle, it also covers them for their injuries. But the reality is they are insuring themselves against injuring someone else.

You need to demonstrate that someone else is responsible, but it’s not an all or nothing situation. There can be circumstances where you will have a claim even though the accident might be partly your fault. If that is the case, then there’s an assessment as to how much the other party is to blame, as measured against your own negligence.

What’s the next step?

If the other vehicle involved is registered in South Australia there is third party bodily injury insurance with the Motor Accident Commission, which operates through its appointed claims agent, Allianz. Many people contact Allianz, who send out a claim form. Allianz will generally pay treatment accounts, at least initially. There’s no requirement for a particular form to be filled out. The government recently tried to push through some amendments which would’ve required people to provide a prescribed set of particulars, but that didn’t get through. If a client comes to us having not given notification of their claim to Allianz, all we need to do is write them a letter to initiate a claim.

What information about the accident is required?

The most important information required is the details of the other vehicle involved. The vehicle registration number of the vehicle at fault is more important than the identity of the driver because the insurance attaches to the vehicle. Factual information is critical to your case. Names, location, time and photographs are always helpful. This is important if there is a dispute about who is responsible for the accident. Most people carry mobile phones with cameras, so taking photos is certainly feasible if you’re physically able.

It is preferable to instruct a lawyer to handle the claim for you. Your lawyer will take all of the available information and deal with the insurer on your behalf.

What if you’ve been injured but don’t have any information about the other driver? Read lawyer Mal Byrne’s blog about gaining compensation from hit and run accidents.

My injuries aren’t significant. Can I still get compensation?

In terms of compensation for pain and suffering, some other states have a minimum threshold where victims with lower-end claims get nothing. But in South Australia, we still have a system where most car accident victims are entitled to some compensation. The only qualifier is that the accident must have left you significantly impaired for at least seven days. Depending on the extent of the injuries, it might not be a large claim but at least you can gain some compensation and help with things like your medical bills.

How long will a car accident claim take?

More often than not, the timeline is not driven by the legal process, but by the nature and extent of the injuries and what the consequences are. It depends on factors such as how much treatment is required, how long it will take to recover and whether you make a full recovery. If you won’t return to full health, it must be determined when your injuries have stabilised. You need to be in a position where medical specialists can make a sensible assessment as to what ongoing effects might be in terms of work restrictions, treatment needs and so on.

More common soft-tissue injury claims typically take up to one to two years to complete, while more serious and catastrophic injury claims take longer.

Why see a lawyer?

It is preferable to see a lawyer for most cases, and certainly the more serious the injuries, the more important it is for you to have legal support to ensure that you are protected and gain the compensation that you deserve. There can be issues, such as gaining approval for payments from Allianz to cover medical treatment, surgery, rehabilitation, hospitalisation and in home care costs, among many other expenses. Allianz cannot be compelled to facilitate this. However, the prospect of gaining financial assistance is much greater with legal representation, which will see a lawyer liaise with the insurer and provide appropriate evidence to support your need. This is especially important in serious cases, where you may be unable to work.

Some people fear that seeing a lawyer will prove too costly, and could leave them financially worse off. I can’t speak for all lawyers, but I can confidently say that this shouldn’t be the case, and having the right lawyer gives you a much better prospect of being properly compensated. You can come in and see a Tindall Gask Bentley lawyer for a free interview, and we’ll tell you honestly if you have a claim.

Gary has more than 30 years of experience with car accident injury claims. For a free initial interview contact us.