A Guide to Whiplash Injury Claims – Car Accidents

The majority of the claimants we see suffer injuries as a result of a car accident.

Due to the nature of the impact, it, with respect to most motor vehicle accidents, the most common injury is that of a whiplash injury. This is an injury which generally affects a person’s neck, mid or lower back, or can affect all 3 areas, or any 1 of them.

These types of injuries can be quite restrictive and debilitating, and can badly affect a person’s enjoyment of life, ability to work and undertake daily activities.

It is important to ensure that if you do suffer such an injury, that you seek medical advice, and if necessary, receive proper treatment. Unfortunately, it is a reality that, even if an individual receives treatment, it can still be left with ongoing symptoms which they then have to live with.

We will now provide some general information in relation to these type of claims, however, if there are any further details you require or anything specific, please do not hesitate to contact us.

What are the time limits for whiplash injury claims?

Generally, you have a 3 year period from the date of accident.

This period is a limitation period, meaning that court proceedings must be issued within 3 years, otherwise you may lose your rights to make a claim.

This period can be extended in certain circumstances and if there are factors which become apparent at a later date, which were not apparent before, then the limitation period can be extended.

There are other time limits which apply to car crash injuries, and so it is important that you seek legal advice from a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. This is to ensure that your rights are properly protected.

A personal injury compensation lawyer can ensure that the time limits are complied with. Prior to commencing any court proceedings, there are a number of steps which need to be taken. Each step is required to be done within a certain period of time.

Lawyers who specialise in whiplash compensation claims and motor vehicle accidents should be well versed as to these time restrictions and must ensure that steps are taken to protect your rights.

Who can you sue in a car accident?

There are two separate types of claims that you can pursue generally as a result of a motor vehicle accident.

The first claim is in relation to the damage which has been sustained to the motor vehicle, together with the loss of any personal property which may have been within the motor vehicle. This claim should be properly bought against the property insurer of the vehicle at fault.

If you, as a driver have insurance, you should lodge a claim with them and provide to them, full particulars of each of the vehicles involved in the accident.

If you are not at fault and can provide to your insurer full details of the at-fault driver, then your insurer should, in general terms, waive any excess for this payable under the terms of your policy.

This is a matter that you must discuss with your own insurer when lodging the claim. The terms of your policy generally provide that an excess is payable. On occasions, the insurers may ask you to pay it and then agree to refund it once they recover it from the other party.

If, however, you aren’t at fault, you should ask your insurer to waive the excess if you do provide to them the full particulars of the at-fault vehicle. This saves you from having to outlay an excess in circumstances where the accident was not your fault.

Most of the insurers do it and if your insurer requests for you to pay it, we suggest that you ask them to waive it on the basis that you understand it to be common practice within the insurance industry.

If you are having difficulty with this, we are happy to discuss this with you and suggest that you contact our office.

The property insurance claim will also cover any personal items such as sunglasses, laptops or any other personal belongings which may have been damaged as a result of the accident.

The second type of claim which you can bring is a personal injury claim. This claim is bought against the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurer of the vehicle at-fault of the accident.

The majority of claims bought under the CTP scheme are whiplash injury claims. CTP insurers are used to dealing with whiplash compensation claims and are therefore well set-up to look at and process these claims.

An injured person should seek appropriate legal advice from a personal injury lawyer or an accident injury lawyer as soon as they can after the accident.

The lawyer can assist in lodging the claim with the relevant insurer and therefore ensure that any rehabilitation that may be required for the whiplash injury can be obtained and funded by the CTP insurer.

There is a regulated claims process in Queensland with respect to CTP claims. You do not actually sue or commence any court proceedings, and the claim is just initially lodged with the insurer company. Most of the claims settle before court and you never have to commence court proceedings in relation to such a claim.

Over 99% of claims which are made from CTP accidents are settled prior to proceeding to a court hearing.

Who am I really suing with my car accident?

By pursuing a CTP claim, all that a person is doing is lodging a claim with the relevant insurer. There are no court proceedings that are commenced, and there is a whole process which needs to be undertaken including obtaining medical reports or records, obtaining treatment and settlement discussions prior to commencing court proceedings.

In Queensland, the CTP scheme is designed so as to ensure that claims are resolved as quickly and expeditiously as possible.

The relevant insurance company is required to make offers to you as part of the settlement process. Those offers must be fair and reasonable, and if the insurer does make offers which are inappropriate or far less than the entitlement you have to compensation, then a court can make orders against them down the track if the matter proceeds to a trial.

If you do commence court proceedings, then the claim is covered wholly by the CTP insurer. The driver at-fault is not separately represented and the proceedings are served directly on the insurer.

Claims can be bought when people are passengers within a vehicle that may be driven by their husband or loved ones. In these circumstances, even if their partner or loved one was at fault, the claim can still be bought against the CTP insurer and there is no extra liability placed upon the driver.