Can you Claim Car Accident Compensation for Pain and Suffering in NSW?
Car accident compensation for pain and suffering is a lump sum that’s awarded to you to compensate you for the harmful impact your injury has had on you, both mentally and physically. It’s also referred to as general damages or non-economic loss.
However not everyone who’s injured in a car accident in NSW is entitled to claim pain and suffering. In this article we explain:
- Who can claim pain and suffering
- How a lot of people risk missing out on pain and suffering payments they’re entitled to
- How to get free legal help with your pain and suffering lump sum claim
Can I claim car accident compensation for pain and suffering in NSW?
If you’ve been injured in a motor accident in NSW, you can claim a lump sum for pain and suffering if:
- You weren’t at fault in the accident
- Your injuries are assessed as being ‘non-minor’
- Your WPI* is assessed as being more than 10%
You can also claim an additional lump sum for future loss of wages. You can claim this lump sum even if your WPI is less than 10%.
So it’s important to understand the difference between minor and non-minor injuries to work out if you can claim car accident compensation for pain and suffering. It’s also important to note that even if you’ve been assessed as having non-minor injuries, there are situations when you might be able to change that assessment and claim a pain and suffering lump sum – read on to find out how.
*WPI is ‘whole person impairment’ – a test that measures the permanent damage your accident has caused (physically and mentally).
How much do you get for pain and suffering in a car accident in NSW?
Car accident compensation for pain and suffering payout amounts can be substantial – the NSW CTP scheme has paid out $32 million* in pain and suffering lump sums in the 12 months to November 2020, and a further $29 million* in economic loss lump sums (past and future loss of wages).
Pain and suffering lump sums are based on a fixed scale that specifies how much you’ll get depending on the injury you’ve sustained. However, in most cases the actual amount you receive will be reduced depending on the extent of your injury, on a sliding “partial” scale.
*According to SIRA Open Data, November 2020.
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How do I claim pain and suffering for my car accident injury?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may have already made a claim for personal injury benefits, which provides you with payments to cover lost income, treatment and care expenses. However, you’ll need to submit a separate application for your pain and suffering lump sum. The form you submit for a lump sum claim is the same form you would submit to claim future loss of wages, so you’re effectively applying for both of these lump sums at once.
Here’s the claim process:
- Check your eligibility – (ie) that you were not at fault and your injuries have been assessed as non-minor.
- Check the timeframe – if your injuries are non-minor but less than 10% WPI, then you can only lodge a lump sum claim for past and future loss of wages 20 months after the date of the accident.
- If your injuries are above 10% WPI then you can claim your lump sums (for future loss of wages and pain and suffering) at any time.
- Click here to download the application form to submit your own claim for a lump sum.
What are minor and non-minor injuries?
When you’re injured in a car accident and you make an application for personal injury benefits or lump sums (including car accident compensation for pain and suffering), you’ll need to get your injuries assessed by a doctor. This assessment is used to classify your injuries as minor or non-minor.
- Minor physical injuries are soft-tissue or muscle injuries, like a muscle strain or a sore back. The most common soft tissue injury after a crash is whiplash, which often results in neck pain.
- Minor psychological or psychiatric injuries are psychological or psychiatric injuries that are not a recognised psychiatric illness.
- Non-minor physical injuries are more serious injuries like fractures or injuries that affect your organs. They also include nerve injuries, injuries that require surgery, brain injuries and scarring.
- Non-minor psychological or psychiatric injuries include diagnosed psychological or psychiatric illnesses such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as a range of others.
My injures were assessed as minor – how can I claim pain and suffering?
You can only claim car accident compensation for pain and suffering if your injuries have been assessed as non-minor. However, if your injuries have been assessed as minor, here are four situations that might change your assessment to non-minor and allow you to claim pain and suffering:
- Your injuries were incorrectly assessed as minor, and should have been assessed as non-minor
- One or more physical or psychological injuries were overlooked and not noted on your assessment, and you would have been assessed as non-minor if they had been noted
- Your injuries have worsened over time and would now be classified as non-minor
- Since your assessment, you have developed a psychological injury that classifies as non-minor because of your accident
How can I get help with my pain and suffering lump sum claim in NSW?
When you claim car accident compensation for pain and suffering it’s likely you’ll get a better result with a lawyer on your side, and you might be able to get your legal fees paid by the CTP insurer of the at-fault vehicle.
For lump sum (common law) claims in NSW there’s a schedule of fixed fees a solicitor can be paid to assist you for claims up to $75,000.
- These fees are paid by the insurer.
- If your settlement amount is greater than $75,000, then the solicitor can charge an amount set by them, with your agreement.
- This agreement is known as a “costs agreement”, and only applies to the amount they charge for your claim over the $75,000 threshold.
- The fixed fees still apply to the work they do for the first $75,000 of your claim and are still paid by the insurer.
Law Partners is Australia’s largest specialist personal injury form, with a number of solicitors who specialise in CTP claims and have helped many people claim car accident compensation for pain and suffering.