Car Accident Injury 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 a car accident injury claim 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.
Can I make a car accident injury claim?
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:
- Drivers and passengers
- Riders and pillion passengers
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 injury claim?
According to SIRA (the State Insurance Regulatory Authority), in the 12 months to October 2023, there were 12,269 motor accident injury claims reported in NSW and $1.24 billion was paid out in benefits and lump sums. That’s $101,068 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 Classification||Examples|
|Threshold (soft tissue injuries)||
|Above threshold (fractures, organ damage)||
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. Threshold injury|| |
|2. Above threshold injury||
|3. Above threshold injury, over 10% permanent impairment||
To get an estimate of your motor accident injuryNSW entitlements you can use this compensation calculator.
*Based on SIRA Open Data, November 2023.
**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.
What is the average settlement for minor car accident injury claims?
The average settlement for a threshold (minor) car accident injury claim in NSW is likely to be significantly less than $101,068, which is the amount that was paid out per claim reported in the year to October 2023. If your injury has been classified as a threshold (minor) injury, then it’s considered to be an injury you’ll recover from in less than 12 months. So you’ll only be entitled to income support and medical and home care expenses for up to 12 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 above-threshold injuries. That would mean you may be entitled to additional car accident compensation including a lump sum.
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.
How much do you get for pain and suffering in a car accident?
If you’re eligible for pain and suffering, the amount you receive will be based on how your injuries are affecting your life, and the maximum payable is $595,000.
This is a lump sum payment made for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. To be eligible for a pain and suffering lump sum, you have to have a serious injury and be assessed as having a permanent impairment rating of more than 10 %.
For more information, read this article on car accident compensation for pain and suffering.
How much is a neck and back injury settlement?
This is a common question; however, the answer 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 on a periodic basis. These types of injuries are not entitled to a lump sum payout or settlement.
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%.
- If your neck or back injury is a soft tissue injury (such as whiplash), then it should be classified as a threshold (minor) injury.
- If your neck or back injury includes fractures, significant nerve damage, broken bones or requires surgery, then it will likely be classified as above threshold.
- 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.
You can have a confidential conversation about your injuries and compensation entitlements with a specialist car accident lawyer free of charge by calling 13 15 15.
Find out how much you can claim.Get started
Can I sue for emotional distress after a car accident?
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 is for psychological or psychiatric injuries such as acute stress disorder and adjustment disorder.
If you’re assessed as having an above-threshold psychological or psychiatric injury, you may be entitled to lump sum car accident compensation as well as treatment, care and weekly payments.
How long does a car accident injury settlement take?
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 often do car accident injury claims go to court?
Most car accident injury claims don’t go to court. In fact, in NSW of the 47,820 total claims made since 1 December 2017, only 72 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:
- Facilitate the understanding of issues between you and the insurer to mutually resolve the dispute
- Arrange an independent and binding decision by an expert assessor
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 lawyer on your side, and in many cases your lawyer’s fees will be paid by the CTP insurer.
*Based on SIRA Open Data, July 2023.
How is a car accident injury compensation settlement paid out?
The amounts you may be entitled to are summarised below:
|Claim||Car Accident Injury 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.
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.
How do I make a car accident injury claim?
There are three ways to claim compensation if you’re injured in a car accident:
- 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
For more information, here’s a detailed article on how to lodge a CTP claim.
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:
- A paid dispute is a dispute that a car accident lawyer can charge for, and the fees are fixed.
- Your lawyer will generally earn $1,919* for the dispute. There are legislative restrictions and maximum limits that apply to each claim.
- You won’t have to pay anything to have a lawyer assist you with a paid dispute – these fees are paid by the insurer.
- If a lawyer helps you with an unpaid dispute, they must do it free of charge.
*As of November 2023
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.
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.
Do I have a case?
Our senior lawyers will assess your case for free.