In a perfect world, obtaining compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident would be easy. In reality, it’s not. This is because the circumstances of your case dictate the type of compensation you can seek. On top of that, you can’t make a claim based on a simple estimate. Instead, specific methods must be used to calculate various types of compensation.
While a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can certainly handle all of these matters for you, you can lessen your stress and uncertainty by learning the basics. Here’s what you need to know about calculating car accident injury compensation.
Types of compensation available in New South Wales
If you have been hurt in a road accident in New South Wales, you may qualify for compensation:
- loss of income due to your inability to work because of your injury;
- past and ongoing medical expenses due to injury;
- continuous pain and suffering causing a loss of enjoyment with your life;
- nurse or carer’s fees.
A brief explanation of each follows.
Loss of Income
If you’ve been unable to work because of the injuries you sustained in a NSW road accident, you can seek compensation for your loss of income. However, there is a significant catch. This caveat is that the law limits the amount you may receive. Specifically, the Motor Accident Compensation Act 1999 includes provisions for restrictions based on your gross income. Under the law, that figure cannot be more than triple the average weekly earnings of New South Wales workers in the most recent quarter. If it is, it is not counted. The maximum nett weekly earnings allowed is presently the sum of $5,008.00.
Past & Ongoing Medical Expenses
If you were injured in a road accident, the responsible party may be liable for payment of your relevant medical expenses.
Another important factor applies if you received government benefits to cover your medical expenses. If this was the case, these benefits should be refunded through the compensation amount. Any medical expenses that were covered by your own private insurance should be refunded the same way.
Ongoing Pain and Suffering
To be compensated for pain and suffering, you must meet a certain preexisting injury standard. This is calculated based on the percentage of your body adversely affected by the accident. To qualify, your injuries must permanently affect at least 10 per cent of your body. This percentage must be determined by qualified medical professionals based on strict guidelines.
The purpose of this is to prevent exploitation. However, this often has unintended consequences. In many cases, crippling injuries are wrongly dismissed for this type of compensation. Sometimes, amputation of fingers and toes, as well as permanent skin damage, don’t warrant compensation for ongoing pain and suffering.
The Motor Accident Compensation Act of 1999 also limits these claims. Specifically, it caps payouts on pain and suffering claims at $546,000.
Nurse or Carer’s fees
If you require special home care for your injuries after the accident you may be eligible for compensation. It doesn’t matter if your carer is a professional (nurse) or a friend, nor does it matter if you paid the carer or not. Keep in mind, however, that the Motor Accident Compensation Act 1999 also limits these payouts. In accordance with this law, you must also prove that you required care for more than six hours per week and for more than six months.
How is compensation affected by contributory negligence?
The amount of compensation awarded depends on who is at fault. If the other person was solely responsible, compensation is awarded accordingly. However, an allegation of contributory negligence is a common legal strategy in personal road injury cases. When this happens, the lawyer for the defendant, or the defendant’s insurance provider, alleges that the injured party’s carelessness also contributed to the accident. If there is sufficient proof of this, both parties will share responsibility and the amount is allocated accordingly.
Basically this means that if your negligence also contributed to the accident, you won’t get as much compensation as you would otherwise. A percentage of fault in road accidents is calculated based on:
- whether you exceeded the speed limit;
- whether you were intoxicated;
- whether you knowingly got in the car with an intoxicated driver;
- whether you were wearing a seatbelt.
What if no-one was at fault?
Traffic accidents can be considered “blameless” meaning as a result of a sudden illness or vehicle failure. Each case needs to be decided on the facts, and we can advise you in regard to this particular type of claim.
Your responsibilities regarding deadlines
In addition to everything we have just detailed, you should also be aware that there are strict deadlines for filing paperwork and other relevant material. Again, your lawyer should be able to handle most of this for you. However, there are also some things that you can and should do yourself. If you were injured in a New South Wales road accident you should:
- Report the matter to police as soon as possible, but definitely within 28 days of the accident.
- Serve a Personal Injury Claim Form (or have your lawyer serve one) within six months after the accident.
- Get an officially sanctioned assessment of your medical condition within 12 months after it has been stabilised if you are seeking compensation for non-economic losses.
- Serve any Section 85A paperwork (if applicable) within two years 18 months from the date of the claim.
- Ensure your case is referred to Claims Assessment Resolution Service (CARS) or initiated in the District Court within three years from the date of the accident.
Contact us for help with your car accident injury case today
If you were hurt in a motor vehicle accident, your health and your recovery should be your first priority. However, it is also important that you get the compensation you need to cover relevant expenses. Time is of the essence, so contact our Sydney personal injury lawyers to arrange an initial appointment today.