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Car Accident Compensation Claims – Your Guide

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, life can be a challenge as you deal with financial stress on top of your injuries. But car accident compensation could be a real lifeline for you. Motor vehicle accident compensation in NSW is available to all injured drivers, passengers and pedestrians through the CTP insurance scheme.

This guide covers everything you need to know about making a car accident injury claim, including how much you can get, who can claim, how to claim and how to get free legal help.

Car Accident Compensation Claims – Your Guide

Can I claim compensation for a car accident?

If you’ve been injured in any motor vehicle accident in NSW, it’s likely you’re entitled to car accident injury compensation under the NSW CTP scheme if you’ve had any time off work or treatment expenses. This includes:

Your injury can be physical or psychological.

However, if you’re charged with a serious driving offence in connection with the accident, or if you were the at-fault driver of an uninsured vehicle, then you’re not entitled to motor vehicle accident compensation in NSW.

How much should I expect from my car accident compensation claim?

In the 12 months to May 2022 there were 9,108 reported claims for motor vehicle accident compensation in NSW and $821M was paid out in personal injury benefits and lump sum compensation.* That’s an average of $90,140 in statutory benefits and lump sum compensation for every claim reported.

The amount you can expect for your car accident compensation 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 ClassificationExamples
Minor (soft tissue injuries)
  • Muscle injury
  • Sore back
  • Whiplash
Non-minor (fractures, organ damage)
  • Broken arm
  • Head or brain injury
  • Injuries that require surgery

It’s important to remember that compensation for being injured in 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
  • Income support, medical and home care expenses for up to 6 months
2. Non-minor injury
  • Income support, medical and home care expenses that can extend beyond 24 months if there is a claim for damages
  • A lump sum for past and future lost income
3. Non-minor injury, over 10% permanent impairment
  • An additional lump sum for pain and suffering

To get an estimate of your motor accident compensation NSW entitlements you can use this compensation calculator.


What is the average settlement for minor car accident claims?

The average settlement for a minor car accident injury claim in NSW is likely to be significantly less than $90,140, which is the amount that was paid out per claim reported in the year to May 2022. If your injury has been classified as minor, then it’s considered to be an injury you’ll recover from in less than six months. So 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 may be able to 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.

Can I claim car accident compensation if the accident was my fault?

Yes, even if you were at fault in a car accident, or partially at fault, you can claim car accident compensation as long as you haven’t been charged with a serious driving offence in connection with the accident, and you weren’t driving an uninsured vehicle.

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 injuries, 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?

Car accident compensation for neck and back injuries is determined by severity of your injuries. Here are some examples:

You can have a confidential conversation about your injuries and car accident compensation entitlements with a specialist car accident lawyer free of charge by calling 13 15 15.

*https://www.sira.nsw.gov.au/CTP-open-data – In the 12 months to May 2022, $90,140 was paid out in personal injury benefits and lump sum compensation for every one claim reported.

Find out how much you can claim.

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Can I sue for emotional distress after a car accident?

Depending on your diagnosis, you may be able to make a car accident claim for emotional distress 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:

If you’re assessed as having a non-minor psychological or psychiatric injury, you may be entitled to lump sum car accident compensation as well as weekly benefits.

How long does a car accident compensation settlement take?

After you submit your car accident 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?

Most car accident compensation claims don’t go to court. In fact, in NSW of the 47,820 total car accident claims made since 1 December 2017, only 40 have been litigated. *

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:

If you’re planning to challenge an insurer’s decision, you should speak to a specialist car accident lawyer first. You’ll have a much better chance of success with lawyer on your side, and in many cases your lawyer’s fees will be paid by the CTP insurer.

*According to SIRA open data: https://www.sira.nsw.gov.au/CTP-open-data – data current as at 9 June 2022.

How is a car accident compensation settlement paid out?

The amounts you may be entitled to are summarised below:

ClaimCar Accident Compensation Payout Process
Medical and treatment expenses
  • Your GP will provide the insurer with a treatment referral
  • CTP insurer will generally approve a number of sessions with your GP and other treatment providers
  • CTP insurer will generally write directly to your provider and notify them of the approval
  • CTP insurer will pay the GP or treatment provider directly – these expenses won’t form part of your regular payments
  • Benefits are capped depending on the severity of your injuries
  • You should receive whatever treatment is necessary to make sure you recover from your injuries
Care expenses
  • Generally treated in the same way as medical and treatment expenses
Income support payments
  • Weeks 1-13: 95% of pre-accident earnings
  • Weeks 14 – 26: 80-85% of pre-accident earnings. If the CTP insurer cuts off your benefits it will need to give you four weeks’ written notice.
  • Beyond week 26 you can only receive benefits if you weren’t the driver mostly at fault and your injuries have been assessed as non-minor

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.

Car accident compensation example: While travelling to visit a friend, Layla was suddenly jolted forward and lost control of her vehicle after a runaway truck hit a travelling taxi which was then propelled straight into her. Layla sustained a deep head laceration, a broken and dislocated arm, a fractured disc in her lower back and multiple bruises and abrasions to her limbs and torso. Law Partners successfully claimed a $1M payout for Layla, which provided massive relief while she recovered and shored up her financial future. Read Layla’s full story.

How do I make a car accident injury claim?

There are three ways to claim compensation if you’re injured in a car accident: 

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:

For more information on car accident claims, here’s a step-by-step guide to lodging your car accident claim that includes links to the SIRA claim portal and the application form.

How do I get free legal help with my car accident compensation claim?

For motor vehicle 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:

Law Partners is Australia’s largest specialist personal injury firm, with legal teams that specialise in motor vehicle accident compensation in NSW. We’re also the team behind ctpclaimadvice.com.au– Australia’s most comprehensive website on car accident injury claims, with step-by-step guides on how to claim your maximum compensation, including any lump sums you’re entitled to.

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