If you’ve been in a car accident and you aren’t the at-fault driver, then you may be able to seek compensation for damages and/or injuries sustained as a result of the crash. The claims process may be simple or complex, and may depend on the at-fault driver’s insurance policy and provider.
In any event, being in an accident can be stressful and emotional. Here are a few things to be aware of if you’re in a crash and you need to make a claim.
What to do before leaving the scene
While we hope you’re never unlucky enough to be in a car accident, here’s what you’ll need to do before leaving the scene:
Stop your car
By law, you’ll need to stop your car even if you don’t think there’s any damage and give assistance to anyone who may have been injured. Try not to leave the scene straight away or, if it’s not safe to stop there, find a safe place nearby to pull over and assess the damage.
Don’t admit fault
It’s not just an urban myth that you don’t admit responsibility for an accident even where you think you may be at fault (or, you’re a compulsive apologiser!). You may be in breach of your contract with your insurance provider (and you really don’t want them offside).
Collect all the information
Once you’ve checked that everyone involved is safe and out of harm’s way, you can start collecting as much information as possible that might help you in the event of a claim. This includes:
- assessing any damages
- taking photos and video of damage and the location and impact point
- noting the details leading up to the accident
- collecting contact details from the other driver, passengers, and any witnesses.
You’ll need to report the accident to police if anyone is injured or dies, or there’s damage to public infrastructure. If you’re at fault, note you may also be charged with a traffic offence.
When to make a claim
Typically, whoever is responsible for the car accident is the one required to cover the costs. So, let’s hope they’re adequately insured. Important things to note:
- Queensland operates under an at-fault Compulsory Third Party (CTP), which means people who are injured in a road accident in Queensland are only eligible for compensation if they can prove that someone (other than themselves) is at fault. Passengers in the at-fault vehicle are also able to make a claim against the driver’s CTP insurance provider.
- CTP covers drivers for claims against them when they’ve caused an accident and somebody was injured, but it doesn’t include coverage for property damage (i.e. your car!). So, you may need to recover repair costs directly from the driver.
What you can claim
You can claim for all relevant losses, both past and future, including:
- pain and suffering
- medical expenses
- rehabilitation expenses, including medical, physiotherapy and hospital stays
- loss of wages
- out of pocket expenses
- help around your home
When to seek legal advice
Compensation claims can be complex, especially when you aren’t clear on the process or your rights and responsibilities. You could end up taking a hit financially if you don’t start the claim process quickly, finding yourself with out-of-pocket medical and rehabilitation expenses while your claim is being processed.
Regardless, you may need to seek legal advice if:
- there’s a dispute about who is at fault or the amount of damage
- you think both drivers are partially at fault
- you can’t reach an agreement and you’re going to court
- there’s a dispute with an insurer over your motor vehicle property damage claim.
There are strict time limits applied to motor vehicle accident claims in Queensland, so you might consider looking into this sooner rather than later, so you don’t miss out. You can contact one of our experts for a free case review for some peace of mind and clarity around your options.