Motor Vehicle AccidentsMotor Vehicle Accidents – What to do about your claim if you are injured

The first question to ask yourself is “Am I covered against an accident?”

It could be that for some reason you are not covered – but the good news is that from 1st July 2016 you are now covered against more types of accidents, and more importantly, ones that can be quite traumatic.

Accidents you may NOT be covered for:

  • If you caused the accident while riding a bike or walking across the road
  • If your motor vehicle wasn’t registered in Western Australia but in another State (in which case your claim can be pursued in that other State)
  • If you were the sole cause of the accident

When am I covered?

Put quite simply, you are covered if:

  • you are the driver of a car involved in an accident caused by the driver of another vehicle
  • the driver of a car in which you are a passenger, or the driver of another car, causes an accident in which you are injured.

Even when another car causing a crash is unknown, it may still be worth making a claim.

Recently the insurance cover has been broadened to include cases where traumatic injuries are sustained by someone in a crash where no-one is to blame – typically in country areas when a driver tries to miss or even hits a kangaroo or other animal, and goes off the road at speed.

Who do I go to with my claim?

The government body that deals with claims for injury or death caused in vehicle accidents is The Insurance Commission of Western Australia” – this is colloquially known by the acronym ICWA and is used by the many professionals and support staff involved in the claim processes – lawyers, doctors, police, banking staff, administrators and so on – so get used to hearing it if you make a claim.

When it comes to starting the claim process there are two options:

  • Report and claim directly from ICWA
  • Consult and engage a legal professional

Which is best?

This depends on the degree of knowledge and confidence you have in being able to navigate the process.

The question is similar to the one of whether to fill out your annual tax return yourself or have it done by a qualified accountant – some people are confident enough dealing with the ATO, but others prefer to rely on the expertise of a professional. (Bear in mind that a Personal Injury Lawyer knows about the law and will manage your claim appropriately to get you the best outcome).

When should I start?

ICWA prefers that your claim be lodged within 12 months from date of the accident – but the sooner you put something on paper the easier it is to get all the facts right and sort out any discrepancies.

Similar to a police accident report you are going to need:

  • Time, date and where the crash or incident happened
  • The number plates of ALL vehicles involved
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone involved (and it might be a good idea to ring any mobile number given to you at the scene straight away to check it out)
  • Names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses

Once the process has been reported then a claim number will be provided and a Case Manager appointed by ICWA.

As well as everyone involved now being able to refer to the case easily by number, it means that certain expenses can be set down by ICWA against the claim if liability has been admitted, without the claimant having to pay out any expenses. It is advisable however to check with ICWA before proceeding with extensive treatments.

What if my claim is rejected?

A claim might be rejected for a couple of reasons:

  • If after investigation it’s found that you were totally at fault for the accident.
  • Your claim could also be rejected after finalisation if your claim ends up below a designated threshold set by ICWA, however your legal team may still be able to pursue the matter.

It should be pointed out here that under certain conditions any medical expenses paid on your behalf since the claim was first reported to ICWA will not require repayment by you.

If you aren’t satisfied with any outcome…

there are things that you can do – ICWA prefers to settle matters out of court, and so after an initial referral to the Case Manager an “Informal Settlement Conference” might be initiated to settle the matter – if not settled, the matter may be taken into the District Court.

Finalising your claim …

Just remember that any money you successfully claim might be reduced by the threshold amount if applicable, and there may be some legal costs and medical report fees, Centrelink payments and Private Health Insurance costs already paid on your behalf.

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