If you’re a regular driver, the chances are that you might be involved in a road accident at some point in your life. This is especially so considering the fact that drivers these days may be more distracted with mobile phones etc which result in a loss of concentration on the road. The weather can also play a role, especially when we move into the wetter seasons or as we experience unusual weather events.
Often road accidents are not too serious and may just involve an inconvenient bumper to bumper collision or a few scrapes and dents. However, in the unfortunate event that the accident is more serious, and you are injured, you may need to make a personal injury claim.
What is a Personal Injury Claim?
Simply put, this is an insurance claim against (in the case of Western Australia) the Insurance Commission of Western Australia (often referred to as “ICWA”) that is made when someone is hurt in an accident. In other words, if you’re involved in an accident, you can claim from ICWA to cover the reasonable costs of treating your injury.
This kind of claim is often made in the case where a person can prove that the other driver was at fault, and therefore they can claim under the insurance. However, even if you are partly to blame for an accident, you can still claim for your injury from ICWA (or other relevant State insurer). It simply means that any award of compensation will be reduced to the extent of your own liability for the accident.
In Western Australia, all drivers automatically pay for Compulsory Third Party Insurance (CTP) as part of their vehicle registration. Therefore, if you are involved in a collision with another driver with a WA number plate, you can make a claim from ICWA.
How Do I Make a Claim?
The above section summarises what a personal injury claim is, but in practice, claims differ widely. In fact, every claim is different, so you need to follow the right steps when making one so that you make sure that you are covered.
If you have the misfortune to be involved in an accident and suffer an injury, it is crucial to be aware of the following steps:
- Assess the Damage
The first thing you need to do is to assess what has happened in the accident and to gather as many details about it as possible. This includes getting all the relevant contact details from the other driver involved in the accident. This is important, as you will need these details to fill out your claim form later. Ideally, this should also include videos, photographs, and accounts from any witnesses who saw the accident.
You will probably be running on adrenaline after the event and may not be thinking clearly, so it’s important to have as much useful evidence as possible, which will make it easier from then on to prove exactly what happened.
Obviously, if you have been seriously injured, you might need to rely on others to assist you, for example the police or ambulance service. However, in the majority of cases where the damage is not too severe, the main to focus is on establishing what has happened and gathering as much information as possible.
- Report the Accident
While you are busy gathering information, you also need to make sure that you have sufficient information to notify the police. This is because you will need to complete an online crash report form which serves to notify the police of the fact of an accident and provides information to ICWA which they will need before they can make a decision on your claim. If the police in fact attend the accident (which is quite rare given the number of accidents that happen), they may gather information at the scene which can be used later to help determine exactly what happened.
- Get Checked Out by a Medical Professional
Even if the accident was not serious or life-threatening, it’s still important to have a thorough examination by a medical professional as soon as possible after the event, as symptoms can often be masked by the adrenaline of the moment and the victim may not fully realise their injuries until later. Once you have been examined, you can then get the right treatment for any injury.
It is also important to do this sooner rather than later, as it will provide evidence of your injury for ICWA’s purposes. Remember that the onus is on the victim to prove both the fact of an injury and that it was caused by the collision in question. Early medical evidence in the form of hospital or GP notes will help to establish this and will avoid the problems that are associated with victims who delay seeking medical attention until much later. Understandably, the longer that it takes for an injury to be recorded in this way, the harder it can be to relate it to the accident. ICWA are obviously keen to identify false or unrelated claims and any such problems can be avoided by attending to this promptly.
So, whilst it is still possible to still claim for an injury at a later date, for example due to absence overseas or because you have been self-medicating for a period of weeks, bear in mind that it may ultimately make it harder to prove. And when you do have an examination, remember to keep all your medical receipts and any medical certificates as proof of treatment any absence from work due to your injury.
- Submit all the Relevant Documentation
In order for your claim to be processed, you will need to fill in forms and submit all of the relevant documentation to the CTP insurer (ICWA). This includes all of the information mentioned above, which will help your lawyer and ICWA create a case for your personal injury claim.
How Will I Be Compensated?
It’s difficult to say what will happen once you’ve submitted your claim as every case is unique. However, if you provide all of the details necessary to make a solid case, you can expect to be compensated for the following:
- Damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenity
- Medical treatment costs
- Compensation for past and future loss of income/earning capacity
- Travel and medication expenses
- Assistance from others to help you with daily activities which you can no longer perform yourself
- Funeral costs (if relevant)
- Loss of future income where dependent on the deceased for financial support
Remember that insurers use different methods to assess the value of your personal injury claim and will take a number factors into consideration.
What About Other Damages?
In addition to any personal injury claim, there will also be the cost of repairs to the vehicles or the pre-accident value if written off. To make sure that you can cover these costs, both for your vehicle and potentially the other driver’s vehicle, you will need to have adequate insurance cover. This may be “comprehensive” (covering damage to your car and the other driver’s car even if you are at fault), or “third party only” which only covers you for any damage you cause to another person’s car, leaving you to deal with the cost of your own damaged car.
This kind of insurance is taken out in addition to CTP insurance. So, while you might be covered by your CTP insurance in the event of a personal injury claim brought against you, any vehicle damage won’t be covered by that insurance.
At Motorlegal, we know that dealing with insurance claims can be complicated, time-consuming and stressful. If you need professional advice, contact us so that we can make sure you have all the necessary information to deal with any kind of accident.