On our increasingly busy roads it’s inevitable that motor vehicle accidents occur. In the best-case scenario it’s only the machines involved that are damaged but unfortunately, in many cases, drivers and passengers will also experience injury.
Because motor vehicle accidents are common there is a well-established system for dealing with compensation claims by people who are injured as a result. Nevertheless there are a number of important steps you should take in the minutes, hours and days immediately after the accident to ensure that any compensation claim you make has the best chance of success.
Under the compulsory third party (CTP) insurance scheme in NSW, someone injured in a motor vehicle accident can make a claim against the CTP insurer of a driver they believe to be ‘at fault’ in causing the accident. These days compensation is also available even where an injured person cannot prove the negligence of another driver under the ‘blameless accident’ provisions of the relevant legislation, such as where mechanical failure or avoidance of an animal on the road caused the accident.
Consulting an experienced personal injury lawyer is the best way to save time, money and stress in making a compensation claim. You may be able to claim compensation for:
- hospital, medical, rehabilitation, pharmaceutical and other out of pocket expenses;
- travel and accommodation expenses associated with the injury;
- pain and suffering;
- loss of income;
- gratuitous care, respite care and attendant care expenses.
What are the first things you should do after an accident?
The immediate priorities after a car accident are obviously to assess your own injury and whether anyone else involved has been injured or killed, in which case you should call for Police and Ambulance services on 000.
Police may attend crashes where a person is killed or injured, there is damage to property or animals, a person fails to stop or exchange information, or a driver is believed to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Where police attend the crash scene, they will ask for details of the crash and the vehicles involved, as well as your name, address and, if known, information about any witnesses or the drivers of other vehicles involved.
If you are asked to, you must provide the owner or driver of any other vehicle involved in the crash with your name, address and licence details, and your vehicle registration number. If you’re not the owner of the vehicle, you should also provide the name and address of the owner. You should ask the other driver(s) for the same information.
If police do not attend the crash scene, you should report the crash as soon as possible within 24 hours in circumstances where the crash caused either your vehicle or another vehicle to be towed away, there was damage to property or injured animals, or you were unable to provide particulars to the owner of the other vehicle/s.
Depending on the seriousness of your injury and if you have the presence of mind, you should also take photos of the accident scene and note any pertinent facts such as the state of the road, the weather conditions, the volume of traffic, etc. Gathering the names and contact details of any witnesses is also advisable as your legal representative can contact them later to help build your case for compensation.
What to do in the days after the accident
If you’re unable to report the accident to police in the 24 hours after the accident you must do so within 28 days of the accident in order to proceed with a CTP compensation claim.
To find out the CTP insurer of the other car involved in the accident, you’ll need its number plate details. Then call the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) on 1300 656 919 and speak with the Claims Advisory Service (CAS).
You can obtain a copy of the claim form to fill in after the accident from the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) website. However, you should consult our firm prior to completing the claim form.
It’s important to note the time limit on this claim form, which is, that it must be completed and forwarded to the CTP insurer within three months of the date of the accident. You may be able to make a claim after that time but only if you are able to provide a full and satisfactory explanation for the delay.
A medical certificate completed by your doctor needs to accompany the Personal Injury Claim form. Your doctor will be paid a fee by the CTP Insurer for completing this claim form on your behalf. Be sure to keep all accounts and receipts for the costs of medical treatment, copies of which should be attached to the claim form.
Navigating the investigations process
Once a CTP insurer has received your claim it will begin an investigations process to determine whether or not to accept liability for the accident. This is where the expertise of seasoned legal professionals is crucial as the insurer will ask you for specific information such as photos, documents and other records in conducting its investigation.
The insurer will also request full details of the impairments and disabilities arising from the injuries sustained in the accident, and any economic or non-economic losses you are claiming. As part of this process it may insist you undergo another medical examination by a doctor of its choosing.
The insurer is to advise within four weeks as to whether the insurer accepts liability for the payment of statutory benefits during the first 26 weeks. The insurer has three months within which to make a decision about whether the insurer accepts liability for statutory benefits after the first 26 weeks. An insurer who has admitted can subsequently deny, and who has denied can subsequently admit.
As is evident, compensation claims in motor vehicle accidents can be complex and time-consuming. By speaking with award-winning compensation firm BPC Lawyers about the accident, we can guide you through the numerous steps involved in making a claim order to give you the best chance of success. Call us today on 1800 431 590 for a free case evaluation.