Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claims in Western Australia: A Comprehensive Guide
Motor vehicle accidents can be a life-changing experience, often leading to physical, emotional, and financial turmoil. In Western Australia, if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustained an injury, you may be entitled to compensation.
This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with the essential information with respect to motor vehicle accident injury claims, the legal processes involved, and the support we can offer you with your claim.
The Compulsory Third Party Insurance Scheme for Motor Vehicle Accident in Western Australia
In Western Australia, the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme covers motor vehicle accident injury claims. The Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA) is responsible for managing CTP claims in the state. All registered motor vehicle owners must have CTP insurance, which offers financial protection to both the at-fault driver and the injured party.
Motor Vehicle Accident Personal Injury Claims
These claims relate to physical and psychological injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. They may include:
Past and future medical expenses.
Past loss of income and future loss of earning capacity.
General damages - pain and suffering, loss of amenities, loss of enjoyment of life.
Eligibility for Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claims
To be eligible for a motor vehicle accident injury claim in Western Australia, you must meet the following criteria:
The accident occurred in Western Australia.
The accident involved a motor vehicle registered in Western Australia.
You sustained an injury in the accident.
The accident was caused entirely or partially by the negligence or fault of another driver.
It is important to note that even if you were partially at fault, you might still be entitled to compensation. However, the amount of compensation that you receive may be reduced based on the percentage of your contributory negligence.
Time Limitations for Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claims
In accordance with section 29(1) of the Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act 1943 a person with a motor vehicle accident injury claim or a loss of dependency and/or nervous shock claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1959 is required to send the Insurance Commission a completed Notice of Intention to Make Claim form as soon as practicable after the relevant motor vehicle accident, failing which they will not be permitted to commence or maintain legal proceedings with respect to their claim.
Further, if you do not commence legal proceedings within 3 years from the date of the accident, your claim will become statute barred in accordance with Section 14(1) of the Limitation Act (WA) 2005. The time limit is extended for persons under the age of 18 and in other certain limited circumstances.
In light of the above, we advise that you should:
1. Complete and send a Notice of Intention to Make Claim form to the Insurance Commission as soon as possible after the relevant motor vehicle accident; and
2. Commence legal proceedings in the District Court of Western Australia against the at fault driver or the Insurance Commission of Western Australia, well in advance of the expiration of the 3 year limitation period so as to alleviate any risk of your claim becoming statute barred.
The Claims Process
The motor vehicle accident injury claims process in Western Australia involves several steps:
a. Reporting the Accident
You must report the accident to the WA Police as soon as possible after the motor vehicle accident. You can do so by completing an online crash report.
b. Seeking Medical Attention
Seek medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible. Inform your healthcare provider about the accident and ensure your injuries are documented. This information will be crucial when submitting your claim.
c. Notifying the ICWA
Notify the ICWA of your intention to claim by completing and sending it the prescribed Notice of Intention to Claim form, which is available on the ICWA website.
d. Gathering Evidence
Collect evidence to support your claim, including photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, dash camera footage, medical records and reports, documentary evidence of any out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred as a result of your accident-related injuries and evidence of any loss of earnings. Such evidence may be required to establish liability and will be required in order to conduct an assessment of the quantum of your claim for damages.
e. Assessment of the Quantum of your Claim for Damages
Your lawyer will review the evidence obtained in support of your claim and conduct a detailed assessment of the quantum of your claim for damages. They will then provide you with advice with respect to the range of damages you could expect to receive from a judge in the District Court of Western Australia, if your claim were to proceed to a trial.
Your lawyer's quantum assessment will be invaluable when the time comes to negotiate settlement of your claim with the ICWA and/or its lawyers at an informal settlement conference or pre-trial conference. If you do not have a solicitor assisting you, the ICWA will likely advise you of the outcome of its assessment of the quantum of your claim and provide you with a corresponding settlement offer.
f. Attend Informal Conference or Pre-Trial Conference
Depending on the nature and complexity of your injuries and claim and other relevant factors, such as the length of time before your claim becomes statute barred, your lawyer will likely recommend that you either attend an informal settlement conference with the ICWA or alternatively, commence legal proceedings in the District Court of Western Australia, file and serve the relevant documentation and attend a pre-trial conference (formal settlement conference) with the ICWA.
Approximately 97% of claims are settled at an informal conference or pre-trial conference without the need for a trial before a judge in the District Court of Western Australia.
How a Law Firm Can Assist with Your Motor Vehicle Accident Injury Claim
A law firm experienced in motor vehicle accident injury claims can provide you with invaluable support throughout the claim process. They can assist you in the following ways:
a. Assessing the Quantum of Your Claim for Damages
Your lawyer can help determine your eligibility for compensation and provide an estimate of the potential compensation amount based on your specific circumstances and the evidence.
b. Gathering Evidence
Your lawyer can help gather crucial evidence to support your claim, such as medical reports, witness statements, and expert opinions.
c. Lodging Your Claim
Your lawyer will ensure that your claim is lodged correctly and within the prescribed time limits, thereby ensuring that it does not become statute barred.
d. Negotiating a Settlement
Your lawyer can negotiate with the ICWA on your behalf to secure the best possible settlement for your claim. They will ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the negotiation process.
e. Legal Representation in Court
If your case proceeds to court, your lawyer can represent you and advocate for your interests, increasing your chances of a favorable outcome.
No Win, No Fee Arrangements
Many law firms in Perth, Western Australia offer "no win, no fee" arrangements for motor vehicle accident injury claims. This means that you will not be charged legal fees if your claim is unsuccessful. If your claim is successful, your lawyer will charge a fee based on a percentage of the compensation amount. This arrangement can provide financial peace of mind and allow you to pursue your claim without worrying about upfront legal costs.