We probably all know someone that has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, a fender bender in a carpark or maybe something more serious, but do you actually know what your insurance covers or how to make a claim?
If you have a registered vehicle in NSW, you would have mandatory Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance but you may have also invested in a comprehensive insurance policy for your vehicle. Why are there two types of insurance – because they cover different items.
Your CTP policy, commonly known as your greenslip, covers you and anyone travelling in your vehicle, or any other person involved in an accident that is found to be your fault, for injuries sustained as a result of that accident with some minor exceptions.
For people who are injured as a result of an accident in NSW:
- Statutory benefits that are available to anyone injured in an accident, regardless of fault, for the first 6 months after the accident. Benefits can include loss of wages and treatment expenses associated with the injury. Benefits can continue beyond the initial 6 month period if injuries are more serious and the person injured was not at fault for the accident.
- Common law damages (lump sum compensation) may be available for more serious injuries where the person injured is not at fault for the accident and sustains an ongoing loss of income and/or a substantial permanent impairment as a result of their injuries.
Your comprehensive insurance policy on the other hand covers any damage sustained to your vehicle, property or any other vehicle involved in the accident if you were found to be the vehicle at fault. Unlike CTP insurance, which is required in order to register your vehicle, comprehensive insurance is optional.
The first thing to do after being involved in an accident is to move yourself and your vehicle off the road and somewhere safe if you are able. Then check whether anyone else involved in the accident is injured and provide assistance. It is an offence not to stop and give assistance if you were the driver at fault.
You must report the accident to police as soon as possible (and within 24 hours) if someone is injured, if a vehicle has to be towed from the site, or if a driver involved in an accident does not stop and provide their details. Police will usually not attend the site if it is only a minor incident, however you will need the police event number that is created when you report the accident for most insurance claims.
The next step is to exchange contact details with anyone else involved in the accident. If there were any witnesses, get their name and contact details as well. It is important that you note the registration number of the vehicle you believe was most at fault for the accident as you will need it in order to make a claim. If you have a camera on your phone, it’s a good idea to take a picture of the accident site, the vehicles involved, the number plate of each and any damage sustained to try to avoid any disputes later.
The next step is to contact your insurance company and advise them of the accident if a claim is likely to be made.
For anyone injured in an accident, a personal injury benefits claim form needs to be lodged with the CTP insurer of the vehicle most at fault for the accident. There is an online service available to locate the appropriate insurer as long as you have the registration number of the vehicle. Ideally a claim form should be lodged with the CTP insurer within 28 days of the accident in order for benefits to be backdated to the date of the accident. Once a claim has been lodged, you may be required to provide medical certificates and wage information to the insurer in order to claim ongoing benefits. If your condition is serious, seek legal advice at an early stage as you may be entitled to make a claim for lump sum compensation. If there was a death as a result of the accident, the NSW CTP scheme provides payment for funeral expenses and potentially financial support payments for dependents depending on the circumstances.
If your vehicle or other property was damaged in the accident, you should contact your comprehensive insurer to make a claim. Make sure you provide your insurer with the registration details of the vehicle you believe to be at fault as they can then pursue the vehicle owner or their insurer for the repair costs. If you were the vehicle at fault, you can expect that you may be served with a claim for the repair costs of any other vehicles involved in the accident. If you disagree with the repair costs claimed, seek legal advice as there may be some room for negotiating an agreed outcome or payment plan if necessary.
This article is only an overview of some of the potential entitlements you may have if you are injured, or your vehicle sustains damage, as a result of an accident. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, it is worth seeking legal advice regarding your particular circumstances as every case is different. Drive safe! KC Hilton, WNB Legal, ph 0419 464 946.