A motor vehicle accident (“MVA”) is stressful enough, but, if you don’t know what to do, it can make things even more daunting. The following will help you understand what to do if an accident happens and outlines your financial and medical entitlements.
Firstly, if you or your passengers or anyone else involved in the motor vehicle accident requires urgent medical assistance, call 000.
Frequently asked questions:
1. When do I have to call the police on 000?
- If someone has been killed or injured
- Someone has left the scene without exchanging details
- You suspect a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- The accident involved reckless, dangerous or menacing behaviour
- You suspect criminal activity such as an unregistered vehicle or unlicensed driver
- The accident involves a truck or bus that needs towing
- Traffic needs to be redirected
- If no one is hurt, but a vehicle needs to be towed, report the accident to the Police Assistance line on 131 444
If the motor vehicle accident is minor, nobody is injured, no vehicles require towing and both parties have exchanged details you do not need to contact the police.
2. What information should I get?
- Full name, address and telephone number of the other driver
- The other driver’s registration number
- The other driver’s insurer details
- Take a photograph of the other driver’s licence (if they do not object).
- Make, model and colour of the other driver’s vehicle
- The time and date of the accident
- Location of the accident
- If there are witnesses, their full name, contact details and copies of any photographs or video they may have (i.e. dash cam footage).
- For insurance purposes, if safe to do so, take photographs of your vehicle, the other vehicle, the area surrounding the scene and where the vehicles are positioned.
3. How do I determine who is at fault?
Whilst you can have an opinion as to who was responsible for the motor vehicle accident, ultimately, determining who is at fault is not up to you. If the police are not involved, both parties’ insurance companies will determine who is at fault.
Otherwise, the police or the courts after careful review of all the circumstances surrounding the accident will determine who is at fault.
4. What do I do if I am injured but do not require an ambulance?
Ensure you go to a medical centre or your GP as soon as possible. The Doctor will be able to formally record your injuries and provide you with a medical certificate, and if necessary provide a report regarding all injuries caused by the accident and outline any treatment required.
5. What are my statutory benefits if injured in a motor vehicle accident on or after 1 December 2017?
Under the new statutory benefits scheme, any person injured in the motor vehicle accident, regardless of fault, is entitled to receive statutory benefits including loss of wages and medical treatment. If someone dies in an MVA, funeral expenses are also covered. Some exclusions do apply including if the at-fault driver’s vehicle is uninsured; the injured person is convicted of committing a serious driving offence (e.g. murder, manslaughter, driving under the influence, negligent driving causing death or grievous bodily harm, hit and run etc); workers’ compensation is payable instead; and, in some circumstances, if you live overseas.
6. If I can’t work due to my injuries, will my wages be paid?
Yes, provided you are over 15 and employed, any time during the 8 weeks prior to the accident, or, for a at least 13 weeks in the 12 months before the motor vehicle accident, or for at least 26 weeks in the 2 years before the accident, or you were due to commence employment (at a business or self-employment), or you were already receiving weekly payments from workers’ compensation or under the motor accidents scheme.
Your payments will be a percentage of your pre-accident earnings as follows:
- The first 13 weeks the maximum is 95%
- After 14 weeks the maximum is 85% (depending on whether you have total or partial loss of earning capacity)
- After 6 months the payments will end if you were at fault/most at fault, or, your injuries are assessed as minor (soft tissue injuries)
- After 2 years to continue to receive payments, you must still have a loss of earning capacity and have lodged a claim for damages
7. What medical expenses am I entitled to?
If you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident, you’re entitled to be provided with “reasonable and necessary” medical treatment such as physiotherapy or remedial massage. Your doctor may need to provide a letter or certificate to the insurer confirming that the treatment is reasonable and necessary.
If you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident and as a result of those injuries can no longer clean your home or mow your lawn, which you were doing prior to the accident, and now need to pay someone to do these things for you and the total help needed is at least 6 hours per week continuously for six months or more, you can claim domestic assistance from the insurer. You cannot claim assistance if it is provided by a family member or friend.
If you travel to attend treatment you are entitled to claim the travel and accommodation expenses.
The time limits and exclusion for medical treatment:
|At fault or mostly at fault||Payments for treatment and care stop after 26 weeks (six months) if you were at fault or mostly at fault for the accident and you were over 16 years of age.|
|Minor injuries (soft tissue injuries)||Payments for treatment and care stop after 26 weeks (six months) if your injuries are classified as minor.|
|Lifetime Care and Support Scheme||You are not entitled to payments for treatment and care if you are a participant under this scheme|
|Living outside Australia||You are not entitled to payments for treatment if you are living outside Australia. If you move overseas or return to your home country outside Australia your payments will stop. If you were injured while on holidays in Australia you may be entitled to statutory benefits until you return home.|
8. How do I claim loss of wages or medical expenses?
Forward a Notice of Claim to the relevant insurer as soon as possible, but, within 28 days. If you failed to make a claim within 3 months, you may not be able to make your claim unless you have a reasonable excuse, your claim is made within 3 years, your WPI exceeds 10% or the claim relates to a death.
You should get a response from the insurer within 4 weeks.
If you believe the insurer unjustly declines your claim, you need to get legal advice as soon as possible, as strict time limits apply.
9. What is involved in a claim for damages?
The term damages means the financial compensation claimed for the various losses arising due to injuries after a motor vehicle accident.
You may be entitled to damages if you have been injured in an accident (whether as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, motorcyclist or cyclist) and another driver was partially or completely at fault, or your injuries are due to blameless accident, such as an unexplained mechanical failure or unavoidable collision with an animal, and your injuries are more than minor.
You may be entitled to claim:
- Economic loss including past loss of wages, future loss of wages or earning capacity, as well as superannuation
- Non-economic loss where your level of whole person impairment (“WPI”) exceeds 10% you can claim a sum of money to represent your pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your injuries
A damages claim must be made after 20 months AND within 3 years of the accident unless it is in relation to the death of a person, or if 2 years have elapsed and your WPI exceeds 10%.
As a claim for damages can be very complex you should obtain legal advice as soon as possible.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call us today to speak to our friendly team.