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Personal Injury Claims - Your Guide

Making a personal injury claim might seem like a big step, and you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the range of law firms all offering free consultations, no win no fee terms and maximum compensation. But before you proceed with a claim, it’s a good idea to arm yourself with some basic knowledge about the personal injury claims process and your entitlements. This guide covers all the essential information on personal injury claims, settlements, and how to make a successful claim.

What is a personal injury claim?

A personal injury claim is a claim for compensation, usually from an insurer, to cover any financial losses you suffer as a result of a personal injury. A personal injury can be a physical or psychological injury caused by an accident, often as a result of someone else’s negligence. Personal injuries can cause financial hardship through time off work and the cost of medical treatment.  

Personal Injury Claims

How much can I get from a personal injury claim?

The amount you can claim for a personal injury ranges from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. Your settlement amount will depend on: 

For minor injuries that only require a short time off work and a relatively short recovery time, the personal injury claim settlement is likely to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. For more serious injuries that require surgery, a long period of time off work or that prevent you from returning to work full time, personal injury compensation can run into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.  

There’s no accurate way to estimate the average personal injury claims amount. However, looking at NSW motor vehicle accident claims as an example, in the 12 months to March 2022, there were 9,445 motor accident injury claims submitted and $783M was paid out in personal injury benefits and lump sums.*

*Based on SIRA Open Data, April 2022

It’s important to understand that your personal injury claim settlement amount will depend on the extent of your injuries. To get the maximum payout you’ll need to make sure all of your injuries are included in your injury claim. The best personal injury lawyers won’t rush your claim – they’ll allow time for your injuries to stabilise and work with medical experts to understand the full impact of your accident on your life. It’s only through asking the right questions, getting to know you personally and claiming for all of your injuries that your personal injury lawyer will get the highest settlement amount for you.  

Do I qualify for a personal injury claim?

Ask yourself these three questions:

If you answered yes to these questions, then it’s likely you can make a personal injury claim. However, the quickest way to find out for sure if you qualify is to speak to a personal injury lawyer who specialises in accident injuries like yours.

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What types of personal injury accident injuries qualify for compensation?

Personal injury accident injuries that qualify for compensation in NSW generally fall into one of these four categories:

Claim TypeDescription
Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries

Including injuries to drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians. This also includes passengers on public transport. In NSW, personal injury compensation is paid through the CTP (Compulsory Third Party) insurance scheme. You can read more about this in our CTP Claims Guide.

Work Injures

Workers compensation is available to employees and sub-contractors who’ve been in an accident or sustained an injury at work, whether they’re at fault or not. Read our Workers Compensation Payout Guide for more information.

Injuries in Public Places and Buildings

For example: slips, trips and falls, injuries from falling objects, food poisoning and injuries from faulty equipment. For more information, see our Public Liability Claims Guide.

Medical Negligence

Including surgical mistakes, doctor and hospital negligence, birth injuries and defects, defective implants, misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis. For more information, read our Guide to Medical Negligence Compensation.

Both physical and psychological injuries can qualify for a personal injury compensation claim.

Personal injury claim NSW – what can I claim for?

When you make a personal injury claim in NSW, you might be eligible to claim for:

*Pain and suffering refers to money that’s paid to you to cover the harmful impact the injury has had on your life, physically and mentally. It’s also referred to as general damages or non-economic loss.

The Personal Injury Claims Process

How do personal injury claims work?

When you make a personal injury claim it’s likely your compensation will be paid by an insurer. But the insurer will look for ways to reduce your compensation payment, so most people use a specialist personal injury lawyer to make sure their case is thoroughly prepared and give themselves the best chance of success. With the right personal injury lawyer on your side, it’s very likely you’ll get more compensation than if you handle your own claim. Choose a no win no fee lawyer, so you’ll only need to pay them if you win.

Once you’ve chosen a personal injury lawyer, there are essentially four parts to the claim process:

How long do I have to submit my personal injury claim in NSW?

Here are the time limits for personal injury claims in NSW:

Claim TypeTime Limit for Personal Injury Claims
Workers Compensation
  • Claims should generally be submitted within 6 months
  • This can be extended to 3 years in certain circumstances
  • This can be more than 3 years if it relates to an injury resulting in death or serious and permanent impairment
  • If a period greater than 3 years has passed since the accident then a claim may still be made with SIRA approval
Car Accident Injury
  • You have 28 days to get back-payment for any lost wages
  • The final deadline for lodging your claim is 3 months
  • There are some exceptions in certain circumstances
Public Injury
  • Generally, 3 years from the date of the injury
  • In some cases it’s possible to claim up to 3 years from becoming aware of your injury
Medical Negligence
  • 3 years from the date of injury or diagnosis
  • Exceptions can be given to children and people with disabilities

How long does it take to settle personal injury claims in NSW?

Many NSW personal injury claims settle within 9 to 18 months; however, some can take longer.

The amount of time it takes to settle your claim is determined by:

Personal Injury Claim Payouts

How are personal injury settlements calculated?

As a general guide, personal injury settlements can include:

Of course, the calculation varies depending on how your injuries occurred and the extent of your injuries, but the general idea is that a personal injury settlement compensates you for your losses. Future losses and pain and suffering payment generally apply to more serious injuries. For more information, refer to our compensation payout guide.

How much do you get for pain and suffering?

The majority of pain and suffering compensation payouts fall into the 0-$120,000 range, but some can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Pain and suffering is a payment for the harmful impact the injury has had on your life, physically and mentally. It’s also referred to as general damages or non-economic loss

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Are lump sum personal injury claim settlements taxable?

No, any lump sum personal injury compensation you receive isn’t taxable and doesn’t need to be declared as taxable income. However, if you invest your lump sum then the gains you make on your investment could be taxable. If you’ve received a lump sum personal injury claim payout, it’s a good idea to seek professional advice on the best way to invest your money and any tax implications.

Will my personal injury claim affect my Centrelink entitlements?

Yes, it’s possible that your personal injury compensation will affect the amount of Centrelink payment you or your partner receives. If you receive a compensation payment, Centrelink may have to adjust their payments to you. This is to prevent people from being doubly compensated – (ie) receiving an income supplement from Centrelink and then receiving income reimbursement as part of a personal injury claim. 

Making a Successful Personal Injury Claim

How do you win a personal injury claim?

Here are 5 steps to a successful personal injury claim:

What do I do if my personal injury claim is denied?

If your personal injury claim is denied, don’t assume that’s the end of the matter – there are a number of ways you can appeal an insurer’s decision.

The first step is generally to ask the insurer to do an internal review of their decision. When they deny a claim, insurers are required to provide a written explanation of their decision. If you believe their decision is wrong, then you should make a written submission explaining why it’s wrong and request a review. Where disputes can’t be resolved, you can get advice from the government body that regulates the relevant insurance scheme – for example, SIRA (the State Insurance Regulatory Authority) regulates motor accident CTP insurance and Workers Compensation insurance in NSW.

Before you make any decisions about disputing an insurer’s decision, it’s highly recommended that you speak to a specialist personal injury lawyer to find out more about your options. Law Partners is Australia’s largest specialist personal injury firm, and there’s no cost to speak to one of our personal injury lawyers and get some advice.

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