If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident since 1 December 2017, then your claim is governed by the provisions of the Motor Accidents Injuries Act (NSW) (2017).
After you have lodged a claim form with the green slip insurer seeking compensation for your injuries, you might have received a letter from the insurer, in which they advised they have classified your injury as being “minor”.
Pursuant to Section 1.6 of the Act, a minor injury is any one or more of the following:-
- Soft tissue injury;
- A minor psychological or psychiatric injury.
A soft tissue injury is defined in the Act as the following:-
“an injury to tissue that connects, supports or surrounds other structures or organs of the body (such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, menisci, cartilage, fascia, fibrous tissues, fat, blood vessels and synovial membranes), but not an injury to nerves or complete or partial rupture of tendons, ligaments, menisci or cartilage.”
If your injury is classified as being minor, then you will only receive statutory benefits for a period of six (6) months.
However, after the six (6) month period of benefits has ended, you may still be in a position where you are losing income as a consequence of your injuries and also require further ongoing treatment.
In many cases, you may have suffered an injury to a spinal nerve root that manifests in neurological signs (other than radiculopathy) and unfortunately, such an injury is also defined as a soft tissue injury for the purposes of the Act.
However, if the injury to the nerve results in radiculopathy then it is not a minor injury. The criteria for assessing whether radiculopathy is present, is set out in the guidelines. For radiculopathy to be considered genuine, two (2) or more of the following clinical signs must be present:-
- Loss or asymmetry of reflexes;
- Positive sciatic nerve root tension signs;
- Muscle atrophy and/or decreased limb circumference;
- Muscle weakness that is anatomically localised to an appropriate spinal nerve root distribution;
- Reproducible sensory loss that is anatomically localised to an appropriate spinal nerve root distribution.
We can assist you in finding out whether or not your injury has been properly classified as being minor. If your injury is not minor, then you may be entitled to far more significant benefits than the statutory benefits as imposed by the Act.
If you have sustained a fracture, which should be easily identified by plain x-ray, then prima-facia a bone fracture is not classified as a minor injury. It will be necessary, however, to determine whether or not the fracture has long-term consequences which may enable you to pursue a claim beyond statutory benefits for past and future loss of income and in certain circumstances, depending upon the seriousness of the fracture you may be entitled to receive damages for non-economic loss (your bodily injury which results in permanent impairment and pain and suffering).
If you have sustained an injury which results in permanent scarring to your body then this is not a minor injury. Depending upon the severity of the scarring and its location on your body, there is a possibility you may be able to claim past and future economic loss if as a result you have suffered a loss of income, i.e. modelling or in the alternative, you suffer from a psychological or psychiatric injury which is not minor as a consequence of the scarring.