6 Things to do if you’ve been injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident

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1. Report the Accident to Police
If either party is injured, it’s a legal requirement to notify the police.  You can do this either by reporting to a nearby police station or by calling the Police Assistance line on 131 444.

Make sure that you write down the COPS Event Number assigned by the Police to confirm that the accident was reported.

2. Submit an ACCIDENT NOTIFICATION FORM within 28 days
If either party is injured and regardless of whether or not you were at fault, you may be entitled to claim up to $5,000 in compensation for treatment expenses and economic losses as a result of your injury in the six months following the accident.  You can download the relevant Accident Notification Form here.  However, before you lodge your form, make sure you have a Medical Certificate completed by your doctor.

Don’t delay, this paperwork has to be submitted within 28 days.

3. If either party is injured, consult your doctor
It’s important that you consult your doctor as soon as possible after the accident and that you report to your doctor all of your symptoms, no matter how minor they might seem at the time.  This will help ensure that your treatment and rehabilitation progresses efficiently and without unnecessary delays.  It will also avoid disputes with the insurer should an injury that you considered minor at the time of the accident become more of a problem as time goes by.

4. Lodge a PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM FORM within 6 months
If you were not at fault in the accident and you sustained an injury, then you must lodge a Personal Injury Claim Form and its accompanying Medical Certificate within six months of the date of accident.  The Personal Injury Claim Form can be downloaded here.  The claim form is a lengthy document and you should consider obtaining legal advice before you lodge it.  The claim form must be lodged with the compulsory third party (CTP) insurer of the vehicle who was at fault in the accident.  If a number of vehicles were involved in the accident and you are not sure which one was at fault, it may be necessary for you to lodge separate claim forms and medical certificates with the CTP insurers of each of those vehicles.  The Personal Injury Claim Form should not be lodged without the required Medical Certificate completed by your doctor.  While late claims may be made where a full and satisfactory explanation can be provided, these applications can be difficult, time consuming and they often are not successful.  Lodging a Personal Injury Claim Form and Medical Certificate within six months of the accident does not oblige you to proceed with your claim, however it protects your ability to claim damages in the future, and for that reason it is prudent to lodge the form in most, if not all, circumstances.

5. Find out if you have other rights to compensation
You might be entitled to claim benefits from other insurers in addition to the benefits under the motor accidents legislation.  For example, if the motor accident occurred whilst you were in the course of your employment, you may also be able to claim workers compensation benefits.  Similarly, some workers are still able to claim benefits for injuries sustained in the course of a journey to or from work in certain circumstances.  You might also be entitled to claim benefits under a private insurance policy, including insurance policies that may be available to you because you are a member of a superannuation fund.  Claiming other benefits doesn’t stop you from lodging a claim under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act, however be aware that in certain circumstances, monies paid under those policies will need to be refunded should you ultimately recover damages from the CTP insurer.  For example, Medicare and private health insurers will usually pay for treatment expenses following a motor vehicle accident, but they will usually be entitled to recover those benefits when you ultimately receive damages.

6. Contact a specialist Personal Injury Lawyer
Public liability law is a complex and highly specialised area of law.  To make sure you get the best possible outcome for your case, consult an expert personal injury law firm like Masselos & Co (call directly on (02) 8268 3200 or via email info@masselos.com.au)