When are you entitled to motor accident compensation?

What to do if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident

If you are injured as a result of a motor accident you may be entitled to compensation.

The Motor Accidents Injuries Act 2017 (NSW) establishes a no-fault compensation scheme. Injured road users may receive statutory benefits, irrespective of fault, and in circumstances where fault cannot be attributed.

The benefits payable will vary, depending on the circumstances of the accident. For injured persons who were at fault or partly at fault, the prescribed statutory benefits are limited, and the entitlement to further compensation for more serious injuries (common law damages) is reduced proportionally with the degree of contributory negligence. A person will generally not be entitled to damages if they were completely at fault.

Determining who is liable for a motor accident is sometimes complex and it is important to obtain professional assistance to ensure your right to claim maximum compensation for your injuries is protected.

This article explains how CTP insurance works and the types of accidents for which compensation may be payable to assist those injured.

What is CTP insurance?

CTP insurance is mandatory for all registered motor vehicles used or intended to be used on a public road. An owner cannot register a motor vehicle without first obtaining CTP insurance, which covers the owner for legal liability for the injury or death of a person arising from the negligent use of the vehicle.

The scheme is regulated and administered by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA). Essentially, CTP insurance applies to the relevant motor vehicle so that any act that causes injury through its negligent use (whether by the registered owner or other person with control of the vehicle) is covered.

Legal liability is placed on the registered owner and / or driver who is indemnified through insurance. In practice, this ensures that an innocent person injured within the scope of the Act may be compensated no matter what the circumstances – for example, where injuries are sustained by a person during a collision with a stolen vehicle being negligently driven by a thief.

What is a ‘motor accident’?

When we refer to a motor accident most of us think about collisions involving two or more motor vehicles. However, there are a range of other incidents that may lead to injury, entitling a person to claim compensation.

The Act has broad application and defines a ‘motor accident’ as:

‘… an incident or accident involving the use or operation of a motor vehicle that causes the death of or injury to a person where the death or injury is a result of and is caused (whether or not as a result of a defect in the vehicle) during:

  • the driving of the vehicle, or
  • a collision, or action taken to avoid a collision, with the vehicle, or
  • the vehicle’s running out of control, or
  • a dangerous situation caused by the driving of the vehicle, a collision or action taken to avoid a collision with the vehicle, or the vehicle’s running out of control.’

Accordingly, the Act covers injuries sustained by a person who takes evasive action due to the negligence of somebody else, or an incident involving an out of control or defective motor vehicle.

A claim may be made by:

  • a driver of a motor vehicle (whether or not the driver is the owner);
  • a passenger in a motor vehicle;
  • motor cyclists and pillion passengers;
  • cyclists, pedestrians and other road users;

with respect to an incident involving cars (including stolen, unidentified and unregistered vehicles), motorcycles, trucks, buses, trams and trains.

Injured children under 16 years who are residents of New South Wales at the time of the accident may claim children’s special benefits (hospital, medical, rehabilitation, pharmacy, respite care and attendant care expenses) no matter who was to blame for the accident.

A motor accident claim may also be made by persons witnessing an accident, family members who observe injuries or death, and dependants of injured persons.

Uninsured or unidentified motor vehicles

A person may sustain injury on a road or in a public place due to the negligence of a driver in circumstances where the driver and / or motor vehicle is unidentified (as in the case of a ‘hit and run’ accident), or where the motor vehicle is uninsured. In these circumstances a claim may be made on the ‘nominal defendant’.

The nominal defendant is a body established under the Act and funded through registration contributions. An injured person relying on making a claim against the nominal defendant must make proper searches and enquiries to establish that the vehicle / driver could not be identified.

Conclusion

A person may be entitled to compensation for injuries sustained through various incidents involving the use of a motor vehicle regardless of fault. Benefits payable to claimants who are completely at fault are limited to the type and amount prescribed by legislation and reduced proportionally if the injured person is partly at fault.

Attributing liability for a motor vehicle accident can be complex and may require technical and expert assistance. Time limits apply for claiming compensation, so it is important to seek professional assistance as soon as possible to clarify your legal position and entitlement to compensation.

Talk to a specialist

For a confidential, free case assessment, please call us on 02 6621 2481 at Lismore, Ballina on 02 6686 2522 or Byron Bay on 02 6680 8525, email advice@sll.com.au or contact us online.