As the rate of serious injuries continues to increase on our roads, Attwood Marshall Lawyers Compensation Law Senior Paralegal, Sue Davidson explains the laws that have changed to address these issues and what you need to know if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident.
Queensland recorded one of the highest fatality tolls in 2021 compared to any other state or territory in Australia, according to the National Road Safety Strategy. Sadly, 2022 has continued that trend and it has been a horrendous start to the year for road accidents with the state’s road toll already climbing to 71 fatalities (as at 27th March 2022). This toll is an increase of six deaths from last year and greater than the previous 5 years for the same period.
As for hospitalised casualties, the first six months of 2021 saw 3,939 people hospitalised as a result of motor vehicle crashes within Queensland, which was a 33.1% increase from the same period the previous year. This figure is particularly striking when you consider the effects of covid restrictions on people being permitted to leave home and/or drive on the roads.
Despite a $24.5 billion investment into Queensland transport and main roads, the introduction of mobile phone detection cameras, harsher penalties for drink and drug-induced drivers, stronger graduated licensing schemes for new drivers, and improvements to vehicle safety, the road devastation continues to increase each year.
The intention of the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-30 should be commended with its goal to reduce road trauma altogether. However, we cannot ignore the sad reality that remains about the risk of injury or death for all road users in the years ahead. It is important for everyone to understand their rights and obligations as a road user and what steps to take if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident. Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can turn your world upside down and it is important to be informed about what compensation you may be entitled to receive depending on the injuries you sustain, so that you can get the treatment and compensation you need to be able to move forward with your life.
Road Safety: everyone has a role to play
Drink Driving Offences
Over the past year, there have been many attempts at reform to combat road fatalities, and motor vehicle injuries sustained in car and motor accidents across Australia.
In Queensland, tough new drink driving laws were released in September 2021 enforcing anyone who is caught and convicted of a drink driving offence to complete an education course. The education course, Plan.Drive.Survive.Foundations is an online early-intervention course available for first offenders. For repeat offenders, a more comprehensive face-to-face multi-session course is required. In addition to these education courses, the Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program was also expanded to apply to more offenders.
Drink driving offences represent more than 20% of all lives lost on Queensland roads and remains one of the major causes of death and injury on our roads.
Mobile phone and seatbelt offences
From 1 November 2021, new penalties were rolled out in Queensland for illegal mobile phone use and failure to wear a seatbelt. With the implementation of mobile phone and seatbelt detection cameras, the revenue raised from the Camera Detected Offence Program goes towards important road safety initiatives and education throughout the state.
Camera related penalties include:
- $1,033 and the loss of four demerit points for illegal mobile phone use while driving
- $413 and the loss of three demerit points for failing to wear a seatbelt. Drivers can also be fined an additional $413 and three demerit points for each passenger not properly wearing their seatbelt.
- Double demerit points apply for repeat mobile phone and seatbelt offences that are committed within a 12-month period.
Injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident in Queensland
If you have you been involved in a motor vehicle accident in Queensland you are likely to be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries and losses (eg medical treatment costs, loss of income, care and assistance requirements, domestic needs, pain and suffering, etc).
Under the provisions of the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994, anyone who has been injured in a car, motorcycle, truck, or bicycle accident, or as a pedestrian, may be entitled to claim accident compensation for their injuries. We all pay a Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance premium with our vehicle registration which covers people who suffer injuries through the fault of a driver of a registered vehicle. Unregistered or unidentified vehicles at fault are covered by the Nominal Defendant scheme.
Claim Form needs to be completed and lodged with the CTP Insurer
If you have been injured, the most important first step is to complete a CTP Claim Form, which needs to completed and served upon the CTP insurer of the vehicle at fault. It can also be lodged online. This enables you to have your reasonable treatment and rehabilitation paid for by the insurer. It also records your claim and injuries in a timely manner. Claim forms need to be lodged within 9 months of the accident date (or within 1 month of seeing a lawyer). You can lodge forms outside this period provided you have a reasonable excuse for the delay, but usually no later than 3 years after the accident date. It is important to seek advice as soon as possible after the accident and get this Clam Form completed and lodged as soon as possible.
Injuries affect people in different ways and compensation for car accidents vary case by case. Even if you do not feel that you need medical attention at the time of an accident, it is important to visit your doctor as soon as possible after your accident to be medically examined. In many cases, injuries can be concealed when you are experiencing post-accident shock. It is often hours, days, or weeks later that you feel the full extent of the injuries you have suffered in the accident.
Motor Vehicle Injuries
When making a CTP claim for a motor vehicle accident, your injuries will be medically assessed and diagnosed by your treatment providers while receiving your treatment.
Injuries can include physical injuries such as a muscle or soft-tissue injury, bone fractures, or psychological injuries such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, adjustment disorders and similar conditions.
Injuries typically include:
- Back injuries
- Muscle pain and bruising
- Fractures and torn ligaments
- Lacerations and contusions
- Psychological injuries such as an adjustment disorder, or acute stress disorder.
Soft tissue injury or muscular type injuries are the most common physical injuries that result from road accidents, with whiplash being the most common type of soft tissue injury from a car or road accident, accounting for 32% of claims in the NSW CTP Scheme.
As for psychological or psychiatric minor injuries, an adjustment disorder or acute stress disorder are the most common types.
Such injuries are not life-threatening, but they can be painful and cause significant discomfort and serious effects on your life. These injuries can impact your quality of life and effect your work life, finances, family and overall wellbeing.
Other motor vehicle injuries can cover a range of physical and psychological injuries, and most commonly include:
- Fractures and broken bones
- Disc prolapse, herniation or disc bulges
- Shoulder or knee injuries, often requiring surgery
- Ankle and wrist injuries, often requiring surgery
- Nerve injuries
- Partial or complete rupture of a tendon, ligament, cartilage, or meniscus
- Spinal nerve root damage
- Injuries that require surgery
- Brain injuries
- Depression and other psychological illnesses
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Major Depression
We always recommend that you:
- Seek medical attention after an accident;
- Obtain legal advice from a Melbourne personal injury lawyer about your eligibility for a compensation claim to ensure you receive the compensation you need for your recovery and your future losses.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers – helping you get the treatment and support you need after sustaining an injury
We are dedicated to getting you the treatment you need after being involved in a motor vehicle accident so that you can get your life back on track.
To ensure you are properly compensated for any injuries, mental trauma, and inconveniences and losses you have had to suffer because of a motor vehicle accident, it is important to get legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
Our team are well-versed at assisting with motor vehicle accident claims and we take on all compensation claims on a no win, no fee basis. This means that you can get the advice you need quickly, find out where you stand, and get your claim underway with no upfront costs.
For advice about motor vehicle accidents and CTP claims, contact our Compensation Law Department on 1800 621 071 at any time.
You can also book an appointment online immediately by clicking here.