- June 19, 2023
- Posted by: Seymour Furlong
- Category: Car Accident Claims
Last updated on July 18th, 2023 at 11:41 am
Queensland’s roads are getting safer every year — but car accidents inevitably still happen. More than 3,000 people are injured in road traffic accidents in Queensland annually. Between 200 and 300 of all car crashes in the state involve fatalities. Besides fatalities and injuries, many car accidents also lead to serious property damage.
Car accident insurance claims play a vital role in all of these cases. They ensure people who have been through a road traffic accident can access appropriate compensation to heal, repair property, and cover lost income.
This guide is dedicated to equipping everyone involved in a car accident in Queensland with essential information and practical tips as they plan to make a car accident claim.
Understanding Car Accident Claims
Car accidents encompass a range of road traffic collisions involving motorists, pedestrians, and property. The most common types of road traffic accidents include:
- Rear-end collisions
- Intersection accidents
- Head-on collisions
- Side-impact collisions
- Single-vehicle accidents, where a vehicle collides with an object, loses control or is forced off the road
- Accidents where motorists collide with a pedestrian
Car accidents can be categorised into at-fault or no-fault accidents. At-fault accidents are caused by factors like reckless driving or speeding, and a specific party is held responsible. On the other hand, no blame is assigned in no-fault accidents, which can be explained by circumstances beyond any party’s control.
Determining Liability in Car Accident Claims
Determining liability plays a key role in the car accident claims process. Injured parties generally claim against the at-fault party’s insurance, but other options come into play with no-fault accidents. They include claiming against your own insurance and making a claim with the Nominal Defendant Scheme.
Insurers, courts, and law enforcement take a range of factors into account when determining liability:
- Negligence. An investigation seeks to establish if involved parties failed in their responsibilities as motorists or pedestrians.
- Law violations are also considered in car accident claims.
- Police reports are crucial in determining liability, and involved parties should call the police to the scene as soon as possible.
- Witness reports can help to assess what unfolded, and evidence from traffic cameras can also become important.
- Mitigating factors, such as a motorist swerving to avoid a collision, are also considered.
Expert opinions and reconstructions may come into play after a car accident that led to serious property damage, injury, or death.
Time Limitations for Filing a Claim
All Queensland motorists are obliged to carry Compulsory Third Party (CTP) coverage, regulated by the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC). This form of insurance allows injured parties to claim against an at-fault party. Victims can file claims against the Nominal Defendant when the driver remains unidentified.
CTP claims have strict time limits:
- Parties filing against the Nominal Defendant must lodge a claim within 12 weeks.
- Other parties must file within nine months of the car accident or the first symptoms.
- When a lawyer manages the claim, the process has to start within a month of the first client-lawyer appointment.
These time limitations account for the possibility that injured parties may be, for a time, hospitalised and unable to lodge claims. Injured parties who don’t file within the statutory timeframe risk losing out on compensation, so it is crucial to begin the process as soon as possible.
Different time limits apply to comprehensive car insurance claims, as no strict limit has been written into law. However, parties are always encouraged to lodge car accident claims promptly.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Some people start worrying about car accident claims immediately after a collision — but safety should always be your primary concern.
Immediately after a car accident:
- Check if you and your passengers are conscious, alert, and mobile. Next, check on pedestrians or people in the other vehicle.
- Dial 000 if you need immediate assistance, and call your local police number if nobody appears injured.
- Exchange insurance information and contact details with relevant parties.
- Take pictures to document the scene and take eyewitnesses’ contact information.
- Seek medical attention after the accident, even if you think you aren’t injured.
Gathering evidence strengthens your car accident claim and generally leads to faster settlement. The most important types of evidence to collect include:
- Photos. Take pictures of involved vehicles, the road surrounding the accident, and any damage to public or private property, such as buildings, traffic signs, or bicycles.
- Witness statements. If the police aren’t on the scene, exchange contact information with eyewitnesses.
- A copy of the police report.
- A medical certificate.
- Repair estimates for vehicle or other property damage.
Reporting the Accident
Reporting a car accident to the police isn’t just essential in cases of serious injury or death. A police report also lays the groundwork for your insurance claim. Police may not be called to the scene after extremely minor accidents, but a report must still be filed for the purposes of CTP or comprehensive car insurance claims.
Always include the following information:
- The date, time, and precise location of the accident.
- A clear and concise description of events.
- Names and contact information for all involved parties.
- Witness information.
- Insurance details.
- Other relevant information, including photographs you may have taken.
CTP and comprehensive insurance claim forms are laid out clearly. Claimants have the opportunity to provide accompanying documentation. It is essential to complete claim forms carefully, ensuring they are accurate and clear.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
Notifying Your Insurance Company
Vehicle owners involved in a car accident should always notify their insurers — even if the other party was at fault or it was a no-fault accident. Not only does this enable you to potentially make a claim in the case of no-fault accidents, but it also allows you to receive guidance on making claims against the other party’s insurer.
Include the same information discussed above when notifying your insurance company, and collaborate with any further requests.
After an accident, it is also prudent to review the limitations of your insurance coverage.
Dealing with the Other Party’s Insurance Company
Dealing with the other party’s insurer (including CTP insurer) requires you to provide all relevant details, evidence, and documentation.
Settlement negotiations can begin once liability is established. Some people find this process intimidating, but reaching an agreement out of court is typically possible.
Seeking Legal Representation
When to Consider Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
Depending on the scenario, Car accident lawyers aren’t always necessary. Consider hiring a lawyer in case of complex or disputed liability cases, where fault has not been established, or car accidents involving serious injuries or wrongful death claims. It’s always best to check with one to see if there’s potential in your claim.
Choosing a Car Accident Lawyer
Choosing a car accident lawyer is a complex and highly personal process. We’d advise claimants to ensure the lawyer they choose specialises in car accident claims, has significant experience, and has a good reputation.
Understanding the lawyer’s fee structure is also essential. Some car accident lawyers work on a no win, no fee basis, while others charge hourly rates. Always make sure your chosen lawyer is transparent about fee structures.
Finally, your working relationship will be significantly easier if you like the lawyer’s communication style and generally get on.
The Claims Process in Queensland
Lodging a CTP or comprehensive insurance claim in Queensland is complex, but the process is structured clearly.
After filing a police report or obtaining a copy of an existing police report, claimants are required to submit:
- A claims form (with their own insurer or third-party insurance, depending on the circumstances).
- Proof of identity.
- A medical certificate or proof of property damage and estimated repair costs.
- A claimant certificate.
- A law practice certificate, if represented by a lawyer.
Assessment and Investigation
Insurance companies conduct investigations to determine liability, reviewing all available evidence. They determine the compensation amount in the process, which can take some time.
Settlement and Negotiation
The relevant parties — the claimant (or their lawyer) and insurer — explore settlement options in a negotiation process. Don’t be afraid to hold your ground and ask for the compensation you deserve, but also be ready to budge a little.
Ongoing physical limitations, loss of income, and recovery efforts play major roles in determining the settlement amount in personal injury cases.
Resolution and Litigation
Reaching a settlement is the ultimate goal of any insurance negotiation. Mediation can facilitate a mutually-beneficial outcome in some cases where initial negotiations fail. Litigation remains on the table as an option of last resort.
Compensation and Damages
Compensation from car insurance claims can broadly be divided into two categories — economic and non-economic compensation.
Economic compensation refers to tangible losses such as medical expenses, repairs, and lost income. Non-economic compensation, on the other hand, refers to psychological distress. Post-traumatic stress disorder is one possible example.
Insurers consider multiple factors when calculating compensation, including medical expenses, property damage, lost income, ongoing disability, emotional suffering, and comparative fault. They will assess the cost of treatment at multiple facilities and seek a reasonable resolution for claimants while considering the cost.
Each car accident claims process starts with an event you would have hoped to avoid, but now that it’s happened, you deserve adequate compensation. The Queensland claims process is challenging — but manageable if you break it down into bite-sized steps.
It starts with filing a police report, gathering evidence, providing supporting documents, and lodging a claim. A settlement process follows, but claimants more power than they may think.
Remember that a personal injury lawyer can streamline the process and influence your outcome positively, especially in complex cases. Armed with a clear understanding of your rights and a competent advocate in your corner, the resolution you deserve is within reach.