While accidents involving motor vehicles are a frequent occurrence in Australia, one of the common misconceptions is that another driver needs to be at fault in order for you to claim compensation for any injury that you might suffer.
Entitlement to Statutory Benefits
In respect of the first 12 months after a motor vehicle accident, you are entitled to claim statutory benefits from the insurer even if you were at fault.
The third party insurer is responsible to pay reasonably necessary medical expenses and most of your lost wages for that period. An application for statutory benefits must be made within three months of the date of the accident.
If you suffer a threshold injury in the accident (that is soft tissue and/or minor psychological injury), or you were wholly or mostly at fault, then statutory payments will stop after 12 months.
If you were the driver of a car involved in a single vehicle accident then usually your entitlements to compensation are limited to the payments under the scheme for the first year after the accident. There are however exceptions:
- Single Vehicle Accidents That Occur At Work:
If your accident occurs while you are at work or on a work-related journey, Section 3.35 of the Motor Accident Injuries Act states that you are not entitled to statutory benefits under the scheme.
You are however entitled to receive workers compensation payments. Workers compensation is a no fault scheme and provides for payment of medical expenses and loss of wages whilst you are unfit for work. You may also be entitled to receive a lump sum benefit if you have suffered a greater than 10% whole person permanent impairment (or 15% in respect of a psychological injury).
- No Fault Accidents:
A no fault motor vehicle accident is an accident that was not caused by the fault of the owner or driver of any motor vehicle in the accident in the use or operation of the vehicle and was not caused by the fault of any other person. Death or injury to a person that results from a no fault motor vehicle accident is deemed to have been caused by the fault of the owner or driver of the motor vehicle in the use or operation of the vehicle for the purpose of your claim. If you claim that the accident was a no fault motor vehicle accident, there is a presumption that that is true in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
There is no entitlement however to claim damages for the death or injury of the driver of a motor vehicle if the motor vehicle accident was caused by an act or omission of that driver. Because you are required to make a claim for damages within two years of the date of accident, the statutory payments available to a driver who would have been considered to be at fault except for the no fault provisions will only continue for up to two years from the date of accident. That is because a claim for damages must be made within two years of the date of accident and in that scenario, there is no person to make a claim for damages against.
As a result, if you suffer a non-threshold injury and the accident was a no fault accident, you are entitled to statutory benefits for up to two years even if you were the driver of the car in a single vehicle accident.
- The Fault of Another Party:
In the event that the accident was caused by the fault of another party, for example if the accident was caused by the failure by council to properly maintain the road in circumstances where it knew of that defect, then you may be able to make a claim for damages against the party at fault.
Seeking Legal Advice
As is clear, despite your accident being ‘blameless’, it can be a complex and time-consuming process to claim compensation for any injury sustained in the accident. Dealing with insurance companies, differing pieces of legislation and separate claims made at common law require the expertise and experience of Sydney personal injury lawyers.
If you’ve bene injured in a single vehicle accident and are unsure of your rights and entitlements, contact BPC Lawyers today. We’ve won multiple industry awards from our work in this complicated area so call us now on (02) 8280 6900 for a free legal consultation about your particular circumstances.