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What Happens When a Foreign Resident is Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident in NSW

What Happens When a Foreign Resident is Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident in NSW

Australia’s natural attractions and relative wealth make it a popular destination for foreigners to come to work, study, and to visit. But when an accident befalls a visitor while in Australia, their rights and the legal implications of seeking compensation are not well known.

Motor accidents are the most common incident involving people with foreign citizenship so in this article, we’ll explore the rights and options available to them – which changed slightly when the Motor Accidents Injuries Act (MAIA) legislation was introduced in NSW on December 1, 2017, including what happens if they leave the country.

Access to Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Insurance

All registered vehicles in NSW are required to have CTP insurance, which provides coverage for personal injuries caused by a motor vehicle accidents. Injured foreign residents have the same rights to access CTP insurance benefits as Australian citizens and residents. This means they can make a claim for compensation for their injuries, including medical expenses, rehabilitation, and income loss, provided the accident occurred in NSW.

No-Fault Benefits: The MAIA legislation provides for a no-fault benefits scheme, which means that injured individuals can claim benefits regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Foreign residents injured in NSW can access these benefits, which cover medical and rehabilitation expenses. This is particularly important because it ensures that injured individuals receive the necessary care and support, even if they were partially or fully at fault in the accident.

In circumstances where a person who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Australia suffers a catastrophic injury in a NSW motor vehicle accident, they will be entitled to participate in the state’s Lifetime Care and Support scheme provided they meet eligibility requirements.

Injured foreign residents also have the right to seek legal representation to assist with their motor accident claims. Legal practitioners can help navigate the complexities of the claims process, ensuring that their clients receive fair compensation for their injuries.

What happens when injured foreign residents leave the country?

In many cases, foreign residents who are injured in NSW may return to their home countries to receive medical treatment and recover. Under the MAIA legislation introduced in 2017, all statutory benefits now stop once a foreign resident with a major or minor (but not catastrophic) injury leaves the country. Loss of income benefits or reimbursement for the costs of medical treatment in the injured person’s home country are no longer claimable under the Act, regardless of whether the non-resident’s injuries were caused by their own negligence or someone else’s.

Common law action for damages

If the accident resulted in a serious injury, foreign residents may be eligible to pursue a common law claim for damages. Common law claims allow injured individuals to seek compensation for pain and suffering, economic loss (loss of income and future earning capacity, for example), and future care costs. However, the threshold for pursuing a common law claim is a whole person impairment (WPI) of at least 10 per cent, which foreign residents should be aware of when assessing whether to claim.

Under the MAIA, however, payments for medical treatment, medicines, rehabilitation, domestic care or other allied health treatment cannot be part of the common law claim. Common law claims may also be influenced by the legal system of the foreign resident’s home country and so seeking legal advice on cross-border personal injury claims is essential.

If a dispute arises between an injured foreign resident and the CTP insurer after they have left the country, the MAIA outlines a dispute resolution process which may be used depending on the foreign resident’s ability to do so once out of the country.

Injured in NSW and returning overseas? Discuss your case with our expert compensation team

Foreign residents injured in NSW have rights and entitlements similar to those of Australian citizens and residents under the MAIA legislation, however serious their injury and whether they were at fault or not. But these entitlements change once the non-citizen or resident decides to return overseas. It’s crucial for a foreigner injured in a car accident in NSW to seek immediate legal advice to protect themselves, despite their desire to return to their home country.

Our expert personal injury compensation team at BPC Lawyers can help injured people in this situation coordinate their claim and communicate and negotiate with insurers and others on their behalf. These claims can be complicated once the injured person is no longer on Australian soil, so contact us today for more information to avoid unnecessary stress and worry.