Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claims in Perth and Western Australia
In Western Australia, motor vehicle injury (“personal injury”) claims are dealt with by The Insurance Commission of Western Australia (also known as ICWA). Funding for ICWA is provided by the compulsory third party insurance scheme which is known as “CTP” insurance, or “registration”, which each driver on Western Australian roads is required to take out in order to drive legally on our roads.
This is different to your ordinary motor vehicle damage insurance, which only covers you for the cost of damage to vehicles and other property damage. These insurance policies are known as “comprehensive” or “third party” or “third party fire and theft” policies. Your CTP insurance is designed to cover you for any injury you may cause to another road user. It will cover the cost of any treatment the injured person may need and any compensation to which they may be entitled, for example loss of earnings or pain and suffering.
With over 25 years experience in road accident personal injuries, we know how to get the best outcome for you.
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With years of experience working with the Insurance Commission of Western Australia we can efficiently manage your claim.
How to Make a Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claim after an Accident (Steps)
You need to take the following steps to begin a claim:
How Can We Help With Your Claim?
We take the stress, confusion and worry out of your motor vehicle accident injury claim. Understanding the challenges and stress of a motor vehicle accident injury means we know how to make life easier for you.
With the right answers and support we'll help you get life back to normal sooner rather than later.
West Australian Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claim Assessment Process
Once they receive notice of a claim, ICWA will assess who was at fault and, if they accept the claim, will review the medical evidence and recommendations. The factors that may influence their decision include:
ICWA will issue a claim reference number and once they have accepted the claim, they will monitor your progress, mainly through medical reports. In addition to reviewing medical reports from your own doctors and specialists, they will often send you to see one of their own specialists to obtain a second opinion.
Once you have recovered, or your condition has stabilised, your claim can be assessed. Your lawyer will review all the evidence and will put forward a submission to ICWA regarding the amount they think you should receive. The claim will then proceed by way of negotiation with ICWA. Most claims are agreed in this way. If agreement cannot be reached, it may be necessary to issue court proceedings.
Common Injuries with a Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claim
The most common types of injury suffered during or after a road accident are as follows:
This is an injury to the soft tissues (muscles, tendons and ligaments) of the neck and/or back. It is caused by the rapid acceleration and deceleration effect when the body is suddenly and forcefully thrown forward or sideways by an impact and is then restrained by the seatbelt.
The body is violently pushed and pulled in opposite directions until it returns to its original position. The whole event may last 1-2 seconds but, in that time, the small fibres of the muscles and tendons undergo enormous and unnatural stress which may cause lasting damage and lead to pain and loss of movement.
Similar in nature to a whiplash injury, a shoulder injury is usually caused by the effect of the seatbelt, in which one shoulder is restrained and the other, usually the left one if you are the driver, is not.
Again, the tearing effect on the muscles and tendons can cause inflammation and, in some cases, cause an actual tear of the tissues. Some of these inflammatory injuries (often called a “bursa” or “bursitis”) can be helped by cortisone injections. More serious cases may require surgery which is painful and will require a period of convalescence in which the shoulder cannot be stressed.
Again, these are usually a by-product of the primary whiplash injury described above.
They are often referred to as “cervicogenic”, meaning they originate from the cervical spine, or neck, as opposed to from the head itself. They can be migrainous in nature and can often be one of the most debilitating aspects of a whiplash injury.
This is the acronym for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and is a psychological disorder caused by the mind’s reaction to the perceived threat of harm which it has just experienced. When a person’s life is suddenly threatened, it can cause a disturbing set of symptoms, including extreme anxiety, flashbacks, re-experiencing of the accident, sleeplessness, hypervigilance and avoidant behaviour amongst other symptoms. It can often outlast the physical effects of the accident and create life-long difficulties for the sufferer.
They may not occur as frequently as soft tissue injuries but are a feature of more serious accidents.
Often the injuries are to the legs or feet, caused by the crushing effect of the impact, usually in the footwell of the vehicle.
These are a more severe form of soft tissue injury, where the skin and underlying tissue is stripped off the limb exposing the tendons and bone underneath. These injuries may require multiple surgical procedures to clean the wounds, repair the bones (often using wires or pins) and graft healthy skin tissue from elsewhere on the body to form a patch over the damaged area.
These procedures carry a risk of infection and may have to be repeated if the grafts do not initially take. They will often lead to marked disfigurement with permanent scarring and loss of function in the affected limb.
What will impact the compensation amount in a Motor Vehicle Personal Accident Injury Claim?
The amount of compensation you may be entitled to will depend upon:
Because there are many different aspects to a personal injury claim, it is a good idea to seek professional advice and guidance on what you should be including in your claim.
How can Motor Legal help your Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claim?
We have been dealing with motor vehicle accident, injury, and insurance claims for over 30 years and we do not deal with any other type of law.
It means that when you deal with us, you know that this is the area in which we operate, providing an end-to-end service on any motoring matter.
We provide you with free initial advice to help you work out whether you have a claim and can explain your rights so that you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
The Secret of Getting Ahead, is Getting Started
However you get from A to B, if you’ve had a car accident and sustained a personal injury, Motorlegal will help you sort out your injury claim. Whether a personal injury from a car accident, a motorbike accident, accident on a bus, bicycle accident, or an accident as a pedestrian you will have the assurance of professional legal support and guidance.
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We are a firm of motor vehicle accident lawyers specialising in motor vehicle accident and insurance claims. We concentrate on what we are good at. We provide a one stop service for our clients on any motoring matter following an accident meaning we take care of everything. We have worked for both claimants and insurers and know exactly what you are entitled to claim. We know the process and we know the system. We provide free advice up front so you can determine what your rights and options are without worrying about cost.
Motorlegal offers a wide range of services, including:
- advice and representation in personal injury claims
- recovering the cost of repairs to your vehicle
- dealing with insurance disputes
- arranging a hire car if you need one
- recovering all other losses not covered by your insurance
Because we specialise in motor vehicle claims, we are able to deal with queries and resolve problems quickly.
If you have been injured, we will probably need to obtain medical reports to support your claim. Once your injuries have settled, your claim can be finalised. This may take a few months or longer depending upon the severity of your injuries.
If your claim does not involve personal injury, we will issue a letter of demand to recover your losses from the driver at fault and ask for payment to be made within 21 days. If we have to issue legal proceedings to recover your losses, it will take longer but we will always keep you informed of the progress of your claim.
No. Our initial advice is absolutely free. What you choose to do from there is up to you.
Yes – even if you are the driver at fault.
Yes. We can still advise you on what you need to do. In some cases you may only be partly at fault which means you are still entitled to make a claim for any losses or injuries.
If you are claiming compensation for personal injury, we act on a no win no fee basis. This means we do not charge you if you lose your case but you still pay for any disbursements we have incurred on your behalf e.g. medical reports and court fees. If you win, we will recover most of our costs from the other driver’s insurer. We only ask you to meet any shortfall in our costs at the end of the claim once you have received your settlement offer. All of this will be explained to you fully beforehand. For all other accident claims, we can work on a fixed fee basis if you prefer so that you know exactly how much it will cost from the start.
Most claims settle without going to court and it is unlikely that you will have to attend.
We are happy to see you at any time but we can obtain most of the information we need by phone or email. We will generally contact you if we need anything – we do this to save time and costs.
You are required by law to report an injury claim from a traffic crash via the ICWA online crash reporting facility. We can help make sure that it’s done correctly.
It is very hard, and possibly misleading, to provide an average settlement figure for injury claims as every claim is unique and is valued on its particular facts. However, the pain and suffering element of such claims is worked out according to a statutory scale which values each injury claim by comparing it to an injury of the utmost severity. This means that we have to work out on the scale how serious the injury is when measured against that benchmark. So, if the most serious injury would justify compensation of 100% of the maximum (currently $432,000), we just work out how the particular injury compares to that. A typical soft tissue “whiplash” injury without any particular complications may justify anywhere between 5% – 13% on the scale. If there are additional features such as bony or tendon damage, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), the award may well be higher. The claims are usually assessed by reference to decided court cases which will specify what percentage is being awarded for the pain and suffering in the particular case.
Personal injury claims are so varied that it is extremely hard to provide useful guidance without knowing the particular facts of the case. For example, a claim may involve one or more of the following aspects: pain and suffering, loss of amenity, loss of earnings (past and future), treatment costs (past, present and future), assistance with activities of daily living, rehabilitation and retraining costs, etc. A case may involve a combination of these factors which will influence the overall value of the claim. The best advice is to seek the best advice from someone who is experienced in dealing with personal injury claims .work.
This will depend upon the seriousness of the injuries suffered. There is in Western Australia a threshold for compensation payments of this type. If the injury is minor, and a full recovery is made within a few weeks or months, you may not be eligible for compensation, although other aspects of the claim will be covered, such as treatment costs and any loss of earnings due to the injuries caused by the accident. In more serious cases, where treatment is prolonged and the recovery takes longer, you will probably be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering but the actual amount will depend upon the nature, extent and seriousness of the injury and the extent of the treatment needed to recover from it. A full recovery is not always possible and if that is the case, you will almost certainly be entitled to some level of compensation. There is a statutory scale for compensation payments in Western Australia, and where your injury falls on that scale will determine the amount you are likely to recover.
It depends almost entirely on what the medical evidence says. Once an injured person’s condition has stabilised, The Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA) will look to settle the claim but this will only happen where all viable treatment options have already been considered. Once the medical specialists are satisfied that the injured person has either recovered or that their condition has stabilised, ICWA will invite your lawyer to submit their assessment of the value of the claim. That assessment will include the lawyer’s opinion on what the pain and suffering is worth. The lawyer will usually establish that figure by reference to decided court cases of a similar nature and according to a set statutory scale.
A good settlement is one which both sides can agree is fair. There is no magic figure in personal injury cases. An experienced practitioner will know roughly where a claim will sit on the scale of compensation. That figure will be refined by reference to similar decided court cases and that practitioner’s own experience in dealing with similar claims. There are different criteria for different types of claims, so a motor vehicle injury claim will be approached differently to a worker’s compensation claim. A good settlement is one in which all relevant heads of damage are dealt with fairly and usually this involves a compromise between the highest and lowest realistic figures.
This will depend upon when the injured person’s condition has stabilised. Normally, we need to reach that point before we can settle a claim and the time it takes to reach that point varies in every case. If a typical soft tissue whiplash injury takes 12 months or more to settle down, this means that settlement itself will not normally happen until at least a year after the accident and often it takes longer, depending upon the success of the treatment and the seriousness of the injury. On average, it probably takes 18-24 months to reach the point of settlement in a straightforward soft tissue injury (whiplash) case.
This is a difficult question to answer. It is more a question of maximising the settlement rather than increasing it as such. In any given injury, there will be certain heads of damage that can be claimed and the amount awarded will be based upon the facts of the case, primarily the medical evidence. There may be situations where the medical specialists do not agree on the seriousness of the injury, or you disagree with a particular specialist’s opinion. That is when it would be wise to seek a second opinion and if that opinion is ultimately preferred, it will result in a higher award than if the first opinion were accepted. It is therefore mainly about getting the right evidence, whether that is from a doctor, specialist or an expert in a particular field. For example, if there is a dispute about how an accident occurred (rather than the injuries suffered), an expert opinion may help to establish which version of events should be preferred, e.g. an accident reconstruction specialist. Knowing which experts to instruct is therefore a key aspect of maximising a personal injury claim.
This is done almost exclusively by reference to the medical evidence. Your doctor and specialists will be asked to provide reports on your injuries and your progress, and the Insurance Commission will often instruct one of their own independent specialists to comment on your condition as the claim progresses towards a conclusion. The medical specialists will be asked to comment on all relevant aspects of your injuries, including pain and discomfort, limitation of movement, effect on your daily activities and your capacity to work, future treatment needs and so on. It is rare that there is a fundamental difference of opinion between the medical experts, so if that is the case, your claim is based upon the agreed medical evidence. If there is a fundamental difference of opinion between experts, that may need to be resolved by the court.
You need to firstly notify your claim to The Insurance Commission of Western Australia, who will investigate the circumstances and decide whether the claim is accepted. If so, they will then cover you for any reasonable treatment costs. If your injury lasts for more than a few months, you may then be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering but this will depend on the seriousness of your injury and how long it is likely to last. Your lawyer will be able to guide you on the likely value of your claim but this may not be known until we have all of the medical evidence. The claim itself will often comprise various different components, for example treatment and medication costs, possibly loss of earnings, pain and suffering and other losses that can be reasonably attributed to the accident.
It is your lawyer’s job to get the maximum reasonable figure when the claim is ready for settlement. It is important to make sure that the medical evidence is complete, fair and detailed. The medical evidence will usually dictate the value of the claim, both in terms of establishing the extent of the pain and suffering but also identifying in what other ways the injuries have affected you, for example how it affects your capacity to work both now and in the future. If there is a fundamental dispute on the medical evidence, it is wise to seek a second opinion. However, it is worth remembering that all medical experts are required to provide an honest and impartial opinion, so fundamental differences rarely happen when this approach is taken.