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Car Accident Claims – Your Guide.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you might be able to claim compensation. But the amount you receive for your car accident claim can vary significantly depending on your injuries and how your claim is handled. 

It’s important to understand that it’s not just a simple matter of submitting a claim. You may need to lodge multiple claims to get your full entitlements, and the medical evidence you provide to back up your claim can change the amount of compensation you receive dramatically.

We’ve won thousands of car accident claims for our clients, and in this article, we explain what you need to know to make sure you receive everything you’re entitled to. We’ve included expert tips from our specialist car accident lawyers and explained how you can get help with your claim.

Man with a neck injury in a car accident potentially eligible for CTP compensation.

What you need to know about your car accident claim.

In our experience, if you’ve been injured in a car accident you’re likely to be in one of the following four situations:

1- I have a car accident injury and I don’t know what to do next. 

This article will help you learn whether you can make a car accident claim and what to do next.

2- I want to know if my injury qualifies and how much I can claim.

Your compensation will be largely determined by whether you have a ‘threshold’ injury, and whether you’re entitled to additional lump sums. This is explained in the next section of this article.

3- I want to know if I can claim a lump sum payout.

This is a very common question, and we’ve explained lump sum claims in this section of the article. 

4- I’ve had personal injury benefits cut off or lump sums denied.

This is also very common. Learn more about your options in the section of this article where we explain how our lawyers often get insurer denials overturned.

Does my car accident injury qualify for a claim?

If you need time off work or treatment costs for your car accident injury, then it’s likely it qualifies for a compensation claim. However, some injuries are more likely to qualify for larger claims and lump sums than others. Here’s an overview of injuries and their likelihood to qualify for a claim:

Neck and back injuries are some of the most common car accident injuries. The amount of compensation you can claim depends on how serious your neck and back injury is. If you sustain a whiplash or soft tissue type of injury, in most circumstances your injury will be classified as a ‘threshold’ (minor) injury. This entitles you to up to 12 months of weekly wages, treatment and care which is paid periodically. These types of injuries are not entitled to a lump sum payout or settlement.

However, If your neck and back injury is more severe and includes nerve damage or requires surgery, you may be entitled to a lump sum settlement for economic loss. People who have sustained the most severe injuries are entitled to claim a further sum for pain and suffering. This is reserved for people who have suffered a permanent impairment of greater than 10%.

The most serious neck and back injuries which 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.

The compensation you can claim after a car accident will depend on how your head injuries are classified; either threshold (minor) or above threshold (non-minor). Threshold injuries are “soft-tissue” injuries like whiplash or concussion; above-threshold injuries are more serious injuries like spinal or skull fractures or traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). If your injuries are classified as above threshold and the accident wasn’t your fault, then it’s very likely that you can claim a lump sum on top of your personal injury benefits. 

Car accident injuries that involve broken bones or require surgery are likely to be classified as above-threshold injuries and qualify for lump sum payments in addition to weekly benefits. 

Injuries that result in pain, inflammation, and bruising are generally considered threshold (minor) injuries. They may qualify for weekly benefits if you need time off work or incur any treatment expenses but are less likely to qualify for significant compensation.

You can’t make a car accident claim specifically for emotional distress through the NSW CTP scheme. However, if you have a diagnosable psychological condition, you may be entitled to sue for psychological injury.

Just like physical injuries, psychological injuries from car accidents are classified as either threshold or above threshold.

  • Compensation for above-threshold psychological or psychiatric injuries covers diagnosed psychological or psychiatric illnesses such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a range of others.
  • Compensation for threshold (minor) psychological or psychiatric injuries covers conditions like acute stress disorder and adjustment disorder.

If you’re assessed as having an above-threshold psychological or psychiatric injury, you may be entitled to make a lump sum car accident claim as well as claiming for treatment, care, and weekly payments.

How much compensation will I get for my car accident injury claim?

According to SIRA (the State Insurance Regulatory Authority), in the 12 months to April 2024, there were 12,945 motor accident injury claims reported in NSW and $1.44 billion was paid out in benefits and lump sums. That’s $111,240 paid out for every new claim reported.*

The amount you can expect for your car accident injury claim depends on the extent of your injuries, which will be classified as threshold (minor) or above threshold. The following table outlines the difference: 

Physical Injury ClassificationExamples
Threshold (soft tissue injuries)
  • Muscle injury

  • Sore back

  • Whiplash
Above threshold (fractures, organ damage)
  • Broken arm

  • Head or brain injury

  • Injuries that require surgery

It’s important to understand 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. Threshold injury
  • Income support, medical and home care expenses for up to 12 months**
2. Above threshold 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. Above threshold injury, over 10% permanent impairment
  • An additional lump sum for pain and suffering

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

*Based on SIRA Open Data, May 2024.

**Note: if you were at fault and your accident happened before April 1, 2023, your income support, medical, and home care expenses will be limited to six months.

Who can make a car accident injury claim?

If you’ve been injured in any motor vehicle accident in NSW, then it’s likely you’re entitled to make a car accident injury claim 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.

Call 13 15 15 or chat to us now for free advice

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

Yes, even if you were at fault in a car accident, or partially at fault, you can make a car injury claim 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.

If you’re unsure whether you can claim, you can call 13 15 15 and get free legal advice on your situation.

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, here’s a detailed article on how to lodge a CTP claim.

Can I claim a lump sum payout for my car accident injury?

You can claim a lump sum payout on top of your personal injury benefits if you meet the following conditions:  

There are two types of lump sum payment available: future income loss, and non-economic loss (sometimes known as pain and suffering). 

Covers your loss of earnings or reduced ability to earn income due to your injuries right up until the date of retirement. For example: if you can only work 20 hours a week because of your injuries, and you used to work 40 hours, your lump sum could include an amount to cover 20 hours a week in lost earnings for the rest of your working life.

Covers your reduced quality of life. Only a person with a whole person impairment of more than 10% can claim non-economic loss as well as income loss.

How long will it take for my car accident claim to settle?

After you submit your car injury 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 either threshold or above threshold and who is at fault for the accident. 

How is a car accident injury compensation settlement paid out?

The amounts you may be entitled to are summarised below:

ClaimCar Accident Injury 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 – 52: 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 52 you can only receive benefits if you weren’t the driver mostly at fault and your injuries have been assessed as above threshold

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 injury 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.

What can I do if my car accident claim or lump sum is denied? Will I have to go to court?

Most car accident injury claims don’t go to court. In fact, in NSW of the 70,647 total claims made since 1 December 2017, only 97 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.  

In most cases, 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:

For more information, read our in-depth article on checking and disputing CTP insurers’ decisions.

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

*Based on SIRA Open Data, May 2024

How do I get free legal help with my car accident injury 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:

*As of May 2024

Law Partners is Australia’s largest specialist personal injury firm, and we have a team of car accident lawyers who can help with your claim. Call us on 13 15 15 for free legal advice, and learn how to get maximum compensation including any lump sums you’re entitled to.

Tanja Maksimovic

Managing Solicitor

An accredited specialist in personal injury law, backed by over 10 years’ experience in assisting injured Australians receive everything they’re entitled to with their motor accident claim.

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