Motor Vehicle Accident – Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of engaging a lawyer? Can I just manage my claim without one?
Yes, you are able to manage your claim without engaging a lawyer. However, this would involve you negotiating with the insurer directly. Given the complexity of a claim, this may not result in as successful an outcome as you would have achieved had you engaged an injury lawyer. Most injured parties find the process to be stressful and somewhat overwhelming, particularly when the insurer doesn’t always seem to understand the effect of your injuries on your life and relationships. When you engage a lawyer you gain the benefit of years of experience in the industry, dealing with multiple insurers and negotiating the best possible settlements for their clients.
I have recovered from my injuries now, does that mean it is too late to make a claim?
No, you may still able to claim for any economic loss incurred throughout the course of your recovery, such as medical bills and unpaid time off work. You may also be able to claim for your non-economic losses (‘pain and suffering’) and other additional losses, depending on your individual set of circumstances.
Is there a time limit to bring my claim?
In the case of a motor vehicle accident, you have 6 months from the date of the accident to notify your insurer of your intention to claim. The time limit on personal injury claims (in general), is 3 years from the date of the injury. If you were a minor when the accident occurred, the time limit is 3 years from your 18th birthday.
How long will the claims process take?
This depends on a number of factors. These include the complexity of your claim, the severity of your injuries and the willingness of the insurer to compensate you adequately. Once your injuries are stable (i.e. when your treating medical professionals advise that your injuries will no longer change) the negotiations with the insurer can begin. The length of the process is dependent upon your recovery following the accident and the willingness of the insurer to enter into meaningful settlement discussions.
How much will this cost me in legal fees?
Most of our personal injury claims handled by our injury lawyers proceed on a no win, no fee basis, which means that we only get paid our fees if you receive compensation from the insurer, and if your compensation doesn’t cover our fees, then we will write down our fees to ensure you aren’t left out of pocket by the process. We bill for our work on time spent, so your legal fees depend on how much time we actually spend working on your matter. They are not based on a percentage of your compensation received. Fees cannot be calculated precisely in advance, but we do give you an estimate of our fees once we are familiar with your situation and before you engage our services.
Will I have to go to court?
It’s extremely unlikely that you will have to attend court, as most personal injury matters we undertake are resolved without the need to go to trial. A trial would be the last resort, if we (you and your legal team) feel that it is not possible to come to an agreement with the insurer without court intervention. It is always our preferred alternative to settle outside of court, as this will make a significant difference to your legal fees.
I have attended appointments and paid medical bills associated with my injuries before making a claim, can I get this money back?
In most cases yes, if you can provide us with receipts from these appointments they will be included in your claim to the insurer and are generally reimbursed.
What is my ISV?
ISV stands for Injury Scale Value. This is essentially a number on a scale, depending on the injuries incurred, which is assigned to your claim and as an indication of the severity of your injuries.
What role does the ISV have in my claim?
Different types of injuries, both psychological and physical, are assigned number values on the scale. The higher your ISV, the more injured you are considered to be and any compensation is directly related to the severity of your injuries. Our strong advice is to engage a lawyer who can help you identify any and all relevant injuries on the scale, and therefore ensure you are properly compensated for those injuries.
What losses can I claim for?
You may seek compensation for a wide variety of losses, some of these are tangible losses such as loss of income and medical bills, while others are intangible such as your loss of enjoyment, pain and suffering and the negative effects your injuries may have had on your relationships.
How are my future losses calculated?
In calculating future losses, many different factors are taken into account. These include the cost of doctors’ appointments you will have to attend in relation to your injuries, the purchase of equipment necessary to manage ongoing injuries, loss of earnings in relation to a decreased capacity to perform in your area of employment, and any other financial loss you may incur due to your injuries.
Will I still be able to claim compensation for an injury if I was partly at fault?
Usually yes. However, any amount you receive will likely be reduced by the percentage you were found to be at fault. For example, if you were found to be 20% at fault, your damages will be reduced by 20%. This percentage is sometimes calculated by way of a figure set in statute (if you weren’t wearing a seat belt or a helmet on a bike for example) or by reference to similar matters heard by the court.
If I was unable to get the details of the person that caused my injuries, am I unable to claim compensation?
You are still able to claim compensation in this situation. Instead of making a claim against the insurance of the party responsible you will be claiming against the “nominal defendant, which is where the compulsory third party insurer stands in place of the party at fault. Although you must still show that you have made an effort to identify the party at fault.
If I live in the country, would I have to come into Adelaide to see my lawyer?
It will be necessary for you to come to Adelaide to sign documentation and to confirm your identity at an initial meeting. However, we are happy to predominantly communicate with you via email, telephone or Skype if that suits you better. Most Injury Lawyers are happy with this arrangement too.