Your compensation depends on the types of injuries you sustained and your circumstances at the time of the accident. As far as possible, any form of compensation is aimed at returning the person injured to their pre-injury state. Your claim could be for economic loss and/or non-economic loss.
Economic loss includes:
- reasonable and necessary hospital, medical, rehabilitation and pharmaceutical expenses (past/future)
- reasonable and necessary attendant care and respite care expenses
- loss of income
- loss of ability to earn income
- other reasonable and necessary expenses and losses you suffer as a result of your injuries.
You will need to show:
- that the amount claimed is reasonable
- receipts for expenses
- that the treatment relates directly to the injuries and losses caused by the accident.
If the insurer accepts liability for your claim it will pay your reasonable and necessary hospital, medical, rehabilitation and travel expenses. You don't have to wait for the claim to be finalised for these expenses to be paid. The insurer is obliged to pay these expenses on an 'as incurred' basis only if they are reasonable and necessary, properly verified and relate to the injuries from the motor vehicle accident. Original receipts or accounts should be sent to the insurer and you should keep a copy of all these documents.
The insurer cannot be expected to continue to pay accounts unless improvement is evident. An insurer will look for therapeutic benefits in assessing whether treatment will be reasonable and necessary, and hence, if you cannot agree with the insurer on medical issues about past or future treatment then the dispute can be referred to the Medical Assessment Service.
There is a limit to the amount that can be claimed for lost income which is indexed annually on 1 October. The insurer will want evidence of any losses. For past losses, they may want:
- a letter or statement from your employer
- tax returns
- sick leave records
- medical evidence to show that you were unfit for work because of the injuries arising out of the accident (e.g. a doctor's certificate)
- any other proof you have that you have suffered an actual loss of wages
- if you were self-employed, they will want verification from your accountant.
Give the insurer copies and keep any original documents.
Before you can be awarded an amount of damages for future lost earnings you will have to establish that the claim is real and reasonable. You will have to show that you would have had this earning capacity if not for the accident. Payment is made for lost earnings when your claim is settled.
Non-economic loss (or general damages) is for the pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that you have experienced as a result of the accident. While most people injured in motor vehicle accidents experience some degree of pain and distress, there are limits on who can claim compensation for non-economic loss and how much compensation they get. You will only get non-economic loss damages if you have a whole-person permanent impairment of more than 10 per cent as a result of your accident. Permanent impairment is assessed according to the MAA Permanent Impairment Guidelines (1 October 2007).
The permanent impairment arising from each injury is assessed separately. The impairments arising from multiple physical injuries can be added together to get more than 10 per cent but you can't add a physical and psychological injury together to reach more than 10 per cent. If a person is assessed at more than 10 per cent permanent impairment, damages may be payable depending on the seriousness of the injury. Amounts which can be awarded are indexed annually and are listed in the Indexation of Damages.
Summaries of cases (116kb) where non-economic loss damages have been assessed by CARS provide an indication of the type of injuries and permanent impairments that entitle claimants to non-economic loss damages.
Need help? For more information contact the Claims Advisory Service.