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:
- 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 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:
- Have you been injured in an accident?
- Have you had any time off work to recover?
- Have you had any treatment?
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.
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:
|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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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:
- 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?
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:
- 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 settlements 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. 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
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:
- 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 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.