Personal Injury Claims - Your Guide.
If you’re thinking about making a personal injury claim in NSW, you might be a bit overwhelmed by ads offering free consultations, no win no fee terms and maximum compensation. But before you proceed with a personal injury claim it’s important to understand your entitlements and the claims process. This article provides a complete guide to personal injury claims in NSW.
What is a personal injury claim?
Personal injury refers to physical or psychological injuries that you suffer in an accident, often as a result of someone else being negligent. For many people, a personal injury causes financial hardship through time off work and the cost of medical treatment. When you make a personal injury claim, you’re claiming compensation, usually from an insurer, to cover the losses you’ve suffered as a result of your personal injury.
Personal Injury Claims
How much can I get from a personal injury claim?
Personal injury claims payout amounts range from thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. Your payout amount will depend on:
- The extent of your injuries
- Your age and health
- Your occupation and income prior to the accident
- How your injuries affect your ability to work
For minor injuries that only require a short time off work and a relatively short recovery time, the personal injury claim payout 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, compensation can run into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.
Looking at all motor accident injury claims made through the NSW CTP scheme in the 12 months to February 2021, the average amount paid out per car accident injury claim was $43,174*. This includes weekly payments for statutory benefits, treatment and care expenses and lumps sums for common law claims.
*https://www.sira.nsw.gov.au/CTP-open-data – in the 12 months to February 2021, a total of 10,615 CTP claims were submitted in NSW and $458,289,282 was paid out.
Do I qualify for a personal injury claim?
Ask yourself these three questions:
- Have you been injured in an accident that was someone else’s fault?
- Have you had any time off work to recover?
- Have you had any treatment?
If you answered yes to question 1 and either question 2 or 3, then it’s likely you can make a personal injury claim.
What types of personal injury claims qualify for compensation?
Personal injury claims in NSW that qualify for compensation generally fall into one of these four categories:
|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 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 claims in NSW – what can I claim for?
When you make a personal injury claim in NSW, you might be eligible to claim for:
- Lost wages resulting from time off work
- Medical and care expenses
- Travel expenses
- Pain and suffering*
- Future losses (wages you would have earned if you hadn’t been injured)
*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.
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The Personal Injury Claims Process
How do personal injury claims work?
Most people who make a personal injury claim use a specialist personal injury lawyer to make sure their case is thoroughly prepared and give themselves the best chance of success. It’s important to understand that when you make a personal injury claim it’s likely your compensation will be paid by an insurer, and the insurer will be looking for ways to minimise your payment. So having the best personal injury lawyers on your side puts you on a much more level playing field and is very likely to result in a much higher injury claim payout to you.
Once you’ve chosen a personal injury lawyer, there are essentially four parts to the claim process:
- Your personal injury lawyer will assess your situation and determine whether you have a valid injury claim, then provide you with advice on how to proceed. Part of this process is to identify the insurer.
- The next step is preparing to submit your claim to the insurer. This includes gathering the evidence to back up your injury claim, including medical reports to show evidence of your injuries.
- Once your personal injury claim has been submitted to the insurer, if the insurer accepts your claim it will generally offer to settle. This means it will offer to make a settlement payment to you. Your personal injury lawyer will advise you on what is a reasonable settlement and how much you should accept.
- If the insurer denies your injury claim or you can’t come to a settlement agreement, you have the option to take the matter to court – this is known as litigation.
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 Type||Time Limit for Personal Injury Claims|
|Car Accident Injury||
How long does it take to settle personal injury claims in NSW?
Most 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:
- How long it takes for your injuries to stabilise so that they can be assessed by medical experts
- Whether the insurer accepts liability for your injuries
- Whether you reach an agreed settlement with the insurer quickly
- If you don’t reach a settlement with the insurer and need to litigate the matter, it can take considerably longer than 18 months
Personal Injury Claim Payouts
How are personal injury payouts calculated?
As a general guide personal injury settlements can include:
- The amount of money you lost through time off work
- The medical and care expenses you incurred
- Your travel expenses to and from medical appointments
- The cost of home help you needed because of your injuries
- Future lost wages
- An amount to cover your pain and suffering
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.
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
Are personal injury claim payouts taxable?
No, any lump sum payouts you receive are not taxable and don’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 claim payout 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:
- Keep as much evidence as you can from your accident. Photos, details of witnesses, contact details of any other people involved (for example, the other driver if you’ve had a collision).
- Keep very thorough medical records – medical reports, receipts for all treatment and travel expenses to and from medical appointments.
- Don’t accept an early settlement offer from an insurer. Your injuries could take time to stabilise and if you accept an early settlement offer you might not be fully compensated, especially if your injuries worsen or lead to other issues over time.
- Talk to a no win no fee lawyer who specialises in your claim type. You can submit your own claim without using a lawyer, but you’ll have a better chance of success and you’re likely to get a higher compensation payout with the right lawyer on your side.
- If you proceed with a personal injury lawyer, tell them absolutely everything – don’t hold back. Remember that your injury could lead to other issues over time, and that will increase the amount of compensation you’re entitled to. Choose a lawyer who takes time to really get to know you and asks a lot of questions – it’s only by getting to know you personally that a lawyer can claim everything you’re entitled to.
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 accidents CTP insurance and Workers Compensation insurance in NSW.