Car Accident Compensation NSW - Your Guide.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, life can be a real challenge as you deal with financial stress on top of your injuries. Fortunately, car accident compensation in NSW is available to all injured drivers, passengers and pedestrians through the CTP scheme. This guide covers everything you need to know about car accident compensation in NSW, including how much you can get, who can claim, how to claim and how to get free legal help with your claim.
How much should I expect from my car accident injury claim?
In the 12 months to May 2021 there were 11,016 motor accident injury claims submitted in NSW and $466M was paid out in benefits and lump sums.*
The amount of car accident compensation that you can claim depends on the extent of your injuries, which will be classified as ‘minor’ or ‘non-minor’. The following table outlines the difference:
|Physical Injury Classification||Examples|
|Minor (soft tissue injuries)||
|Non-minor (fractures, organ damage)||
It’s important to remember that compensation after a car accident also depends on the extent of your losses (such as lost income). Here’s a summary of car accident compensation entitlements:
|1. Minor injury||
|2. Non-minor injury||
|3. Non-minor injury over 10% WPI^||
To get an estimate of your car accident compensation NSW entitlements you can use this compensation calculator.
*Based on SIRA Open Data, May 2021.
What is the average settlement for a minor car accident?
The average settlement for a minor car accident injury claim in NSW is likely to be significantly less than $43,174, which is the average across all NSW claims. If your injury has been classified as minor, then it’s considered to be a soft tissue injury where recovery usually takes less than six months, and you’ll only be entitled income support and medical and home care expenses for up to six months – you won’t be entitled to any lump sums. However, some car accident injuries can take time to develop, or may worsen over time, so the original injury assessment might no longer apply.
If this has happened to you, you can get your injuries reassessed. If your new assessment confirms your injuries have worsened or you’ve developed additional complications, then it’s possible you could be reclassified as having non-minor injuries. That would mean you may be entitled to additional car accident compensation including a lump sum.
How much do you get for pain and suffering in a car accident?
If your injuries are more serious and you weren’t at fault in the accident, you might be eligible to claim lump sum car accident compensation for pain and suffering and for future loss of earnings. These lump sum claims can be substantial, with many running into hundreds of thousands of dollars and some more than one million dollars.
Lump sum payments for pain and suffering are based on a fixed scale that specifies how much you’ll get depending on your car accident injury. However, in most cases the actual amount you receive will be reduced depending on the extent of your injury, on a sliding “partial” scale. For example, the scheme provides a substantial payment for the loss of use a limb, so if you’ve suffered a partial loss of use, the payment will be reduced accordingly.
For more information, read this article on car accident compensation for pain and suffering.
How much is a neck and back injury settlement?
A neck and back car accident injury settlement will depend on the severity of your injury.
Here are some examples:
- If your neck or back injury is a soft tissue injury (such as whiplash), then it should be classified as a minor injury. The average settlement for these injuries is likely to be less than $43,174, which is the average across all NSW claims.
- If your neck or back injury includes fractured or broken bones or requires surgery, then it should be classified as non-minor. The average for these settlements is likely to be more than $43,174.
- More serious neck and back injuries that require major surgery, restrict your ability to work or require ongoing treatment or care tend to result in much higher compensation settlements that can run into hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
Find out how much you can claim.Get started
Can I sue for emotional distress after a car accident?
Depending on your diagnosis, car accident compensation for emotional distress may be available through the NSW CTP scheme. So, if you’re eligible, you won’t need to sue – you can simply claim compensation from the CTP insurer of the vehicle that was mostly at fault in the accident.
Just like physical injuries, psychological injuries from car accidents are classified as either minor or non-minor:
- Compensation for non-minor psychological or psychiatric injuries cover diagnosed psychological or psychiatric illnesses such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a range of others.
- Compensation for minor psychological or psychiatric injuries is for psychological or psychiatric injuries such as acute stress disorder and adjustment disorder.
How long does a car accident compensation settlement take?
After you submit your car accident compensation claim the CTP insurer will assess it. Within four weeks you’ll receive a letter from the insurer stating whether it is accepting or denying your claim and what compensation you’re entitled to. The insurer will start making compensation payments to you within 14 days if it accepts the claim. The CTP insurer will then send you a second liability decision within three months of your claim being lodged. This liability decision indicates whether your injuries have been classified as minor or non-minor and who is at fault for the accident.
How often do car accident claims go to court?
In NSW, most car accident compensation claims don’t go to court. If you’re not happy with a CTP insurer’s decision on your compensation payments you can dispute the decision, and most disputes are resolved by agreeing on a settlement out of court.
The first step is to request an “Insurer Internal Review” by the CTP insurer, then if you’re still not satisfied with the outcome you can escalate your dispute to the Personal Injury Commission (PIC). The PIC will help you in one of two ways:
- Facilitate the understanding of issues between you and the insurer to mutually resolve the dispute
- Arrange an independent and biding decision by an expert assessor
How is a car accident compensation settlement paid out?
The amounts you may be entitled to are summarised below:
|CTP Claim||CTP Compensation Payout Process|
|Medical and treatment expenses||
|Income support payments||
In addition, if you make successful common law claims for future loss of earnings and pain and suffering, these will be paid to you as lump sums.
How do I claim car accident injury compensation in NSW?
There are three ways to make a car accident compensation claim:
- Lodge your application directly through the SIRA (State Insurance Regulatory Authority) online claim portal
- Fill out an Application for Personal Injury Benefits form and submit it by email or post
- Lodge a claim directly with the CTP insurer of the at-fault vehicle
SIRA manages the claim process, and car accident injury claims are processed by the CTP insurers.
To make a car accident injury claim, you’ll need:
- Details of the accident, including the road and suburb and the time it occurred
- A police event number
- Details of your injuries
- Evidence of treatment you’ve received such as receipts and medical reports
- Details of your employment and income
How do I get free legal help with my car accident compensation claim?
For car accident compensation in NSW, lawyers’ fees are regulated. Lawyers can’t charge to help you lodge your application for personal injury benefits. But if you’re disputing a CTP insurer’s decision, then for most disputes you can engage a lawyer at no cost to you.
There are two types of statutory disputes – paid disputes and unpaid disputes:
- A paid dispute is a dispute that a car accident lawyer can charge for, and the fees are fixed.
- You won’t have to pay anything to have a lawyer assist you with a paid dispute – these fees are paid by the insurer.
- Your lawyer will generally charge the insurer $1,660 for each paid dispute to a maximum of $6,000 for each dispute category.
- If a lawyer helps you with an unpaid dispute, they must do it free of charge.