Being involved in a motor vehicle accident is about far more than the accident itself. Often, injuries can last for months and seriously affect your standard of living. Whether your injury is minor or severe, the claims process for personal injuries following a car accident in Western Australia can be daunting – often, these processes can seem confusing and complicated. Here, we discuss the claims process in a brief guide, covering the steps you need to take when making a claim, and what you can expect once you have made one.
Who do you contact?
In order to claim for personal injury compensation, you need to contact the Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA). In WA, third party personal injury insurance is compulsory. This compulsory third party (CTP) insurance scheme falls under the Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act of 1943 and Motor Vehicle (Catastrophic Injuries) Act of 2016.
The ICWA manages all claims resulting from motor vehicle crashes in Western Australia involving cars licensed in WA, from minor to fatal injuries. Therefore, when you are making a claim, you are making it against this commission rather than against the driver. This helps to simplify the claims process – the ICWA is well versed and ready to help you with your appeals for compensation.
Who can claim, and when?
Making a personal injury claim can be done as long as the following applies:
- The driver of a car you were a passenger in or the driver of another vehicle is at fault for the accident
- You have been injured as a result of the crash (this does not only include passengers and drivers – cyclists and pedestrians who have been injured during a car crash can also claim from the ICWA)
- You have been deemed “catastrophically injured” (examples include brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, amputations)
Most of the time, you need to be able to prove that you were not at fault or were only partly at fault for the accident in question. Catastrophic injuries are the only exception to this rule, and these are assessed by the ICWA according to their own specific guidelines.
An important thing to remember is that there is a time limit following the crash wherein you can make a personal injury compensation claim, so it is advisable to get your documents together as soon as possible.
How do you go about making a claim?
In order to start the process and make a claim against the ICWA, you will need to follow these steps:
Step 1: Complete an online crash report
- Visit https://www.crashreport.com.au/ocrf/ and fill out the form in order to correctly report the accident
- Be able to provide information regarding the date, time and location of the crash
- Be able to provide the license plate numbers of the WA vehicles involved
- Be able to provide the names and addresses of all parties involved, including any witnesses that may be deemed necessary
Step 2: Call the ICWA to obtain a claim form
- Medical bills for minor injuries can be sorted out quickly with the ICWA and may not need a claim form. You should be able to provide copies of your paid medical bills in order to claim reimbursement.
- For more severe injuries or catastrophic injuries, you will be sent a Notice of Intention to Claim and a Medical Authority form. Filling these out will be your next step.
Step 3: Fill out and return this form
- You may need to have access to a number of medical documents and bills in order to successfully fill out this form and help the ICWA to properly assess your claim
- Once this has been returned, you will be notified of receipt of documentation and you will be issued with a claim number (you can use this to check up on the process at any time)
Once all of the above steps have been followed and completed, the ICWA will assess your claim by determining liability and reviewing the case and documents involved. The amount you can claim may also be affected or reduced by factors such as:
- Whether you were wearing a seatbelt or helmet etc
- Whether the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Witness statements
- Specialist and medical reports on your injuries
- Copies of invoices for rehabilitation and support obtained after the crash
- Evidence of pre-crash wages in cases of appealed compensation for inability to work
Your claim should be reviewed and assessed within 25 days, by which time the ICWA will get back to you on whether or not your claim has been approved. Claims are generally paid out in a once off lump sum, although arrangements for periodic payment can also be made. Benefits received from private health insurance will be deducted from your claim, as well as any payments that may have been made to service providers during the claiming process.
The claims process can seem like a complicated one, but the most vital thing to remember is to follow all of the steps carefully. All reports and documentation will be reviewed by the ICWA, so you should strive to ensure that these are all properly filled out. Remember that your claim number can be used at anytime to check up on the process, and that the ICWA will provide you with reasoning should your claim be unsuccessful.