Attwood Marshall Lawyers Compensation Law Partner and QLD Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law, Jeremy Roche joins Robyn Hyland on Radio 4CRB to discuss National Road Safety Week and the devastation faced by Australians injured or killed on our roads. Jeremy also covers how to lodge a claim under the CTP insurance scheme if you are injured in an accident.
National Road Safety Week
National Road Safety Week (14 – 21 May 2023) serves as a timely reminder about the many senseless deaths and catastrophic injuries that are caused in motor vehicle accidents on Australian roads every day. The impact of a single road accident is often devastating, permanent and tragic – not only for the victim, but for their families, friends, workplace, and wider community. Despite improvements in vehicle technology, legislative reform, harsher penalties, and massive efforts to raise awareness about road safety, the number of serious road accidents remain at shocking levels.
Around 1,200 people die on our roads each year, with another 40,000 seriously and irreparably injured. The journey back from injuries such as amputations, spinal fractures, broken limbs, traumatic head injuries, torn ligaments, shattered bones, psychiatric conditions (such as PTSD), and worse, is usually slow, painful, and torturous. As a community, we must do better.
Part of the problem is that people do not always realise how devastating a serious motor accident can be until they have gone through the experience themselves. If people saw how horrific the consequences truly are, they would think twice about using their phone while driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or tail-gating another vehicle when they are in a hurry.
Constantly bearing witness to catastrophic injuries and fatalities is why Attwood Marshall Lawyers is grateful for the National Road Safety Week initiative founded by the SARAH Group (Safer Australian Roads and Highways). The SARAH Group was founded by Mr Peter Frazer (OAM) whose daughter, Sarah, was tragically killed by a truck driver in an avoidable accident on the side of the Hume Highway in early 2012. Over the years, Mr Frazer’s efforts to promote road safety, influence government and community groups, and bring about meaningful legislative improvements and infrastructure reform have been extraordinary. On Australia Day last year, Mr Frazer received fitting recognition and was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for “service in the advancement of road safety both nationally and internationally”.
National Road Safety Week highlights the impact of trauma and increases awareness around ways to reduce it. The theme of National Road Safety Week 2023 is to “Pledge to Drive so Others Survive”. This involves making a firm commitment to:
- Drive as if your loved ones are on the road ahead;
- Remove all distractions and never use your mobile phone whilst driving;
- Never speed, drive tired, or drive whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and
- Protect vulnerable road users – especially those whose job places them in harm’s way – by slowing down and giving them room to be safe.
You can show your support by going to RoadSafetyWeek.com.au to sign up to the pledge, purchase a yellow ribbon or sticker of support, and to learn more about ways we can all keep each other safe on our roads.
The plan to combat unsafe road behaviour
Over the past year, the government at all levels have been collaborating with communities to change our road traffic and transport system to reduce the numbers of serious injuries and deaths on our roads. As part of the National Road Safety Strategy 2021-30, the government has set a target to reduce the annual number of fatalities by 50 per cent by 2030 and to reduce the annual number of serious injuries by 30 per cent.
The key priorities include:
- Infrastructure planning and investment
- Vehicle safety
- Regional road safety
- Heavy vehicle safety
- Vulnerable road users
- Remote road safety
- Workplace road safety
- Risky road use
Unfortunately, the National Road Safety strategy that predated the current plan failed to be implemented and the government learned some valuable albeit harsh lessons from that failure. Hopefully, the current plan can be delivered successfully, and achieve a positive influence on road safety outcomes.
Frequently asked questions answered about compensation for injured road users
When someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident, or for families who tragically lose a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, there is often a lot of confusion and uncertainty that coincides with the injury.
Many injured people do not know where to turn or what to do next. With a slow recovery ahead of them, endless medical expenses, and financial uncertainty, it is often an extremely overwhelming and stressful experience to endure.
To help injured road users understand the options available to them, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
Who is eligible to claim compensation?
Whether you were a driver, passenger, pedestrian, cyclist, motorcyclist, or pillion passenger, you can claim compensation if you were injured in a motor vehicle accident caused wholly or partially by another motor vehicle user. You can even claim compensation if you were injured as a passenger in an accident caused by the driver of your own vehicle. When we pay our vehicle registration, there is an insurance component (called compulsory third party (CTP) insurance) in the fee which covers the vehicle for any injuries caused to other parties, no matter who is driving (or not driving!). There is also an insurance component for unidentified or unregistered vehicles so that anyone injured through the fault of another driver is covered. This means that unless you are completely at fault as the driver of one of the vehicles involved, you will be covered by the CTP insurance scheme and you will be entitled to bring a claim if you are injured.
How do I claim compensation?
Firstly, contact an expert compensation lawyer who will be able to provide initial advice about your unique situation and assist you with getting your claim underway.
You should report the accident to police immediately.
You will then need to complete a Notice of Accident Claim Form and have your doctor complete the accompanying CTP Medical Certificate to be served on the insurer of the at-fault vehicle.
Do time limits apply?
Strict time limits apply to claim compensation for a motor accident. The earlier you obtain expert legal advice and get your claim underway, the better.
For a standard claim in Queensland: The Notice of Accident Claim Form must be served on the insurer within 9 months of the accident or from the date of first symptoms, or within 1 month of consulting a lawyer. If this timeframe is not met, you still have a claim, however, you need to provide a reasonable excuse for delay (which are typically accepted by insurers). You must then commence your claim in court (or otherwise protect the time limitation) within 3 years of the accident or the claim may be statute-barred, and you lose all entitlements to claim compensation. For minors under 18 years of age, in Queensland, you have until 3 years from your 18th birthday in which to commence a claim, or you will be statute-barred at the expiration of your 21st birthday. For minors in New South Wales, your parents, guardian or “litigation guardian” has only 3 years from the date of accident to make a claim or the claim may become statute barred.
For a Nominal Defendant claim (where the at-fault vehicle was unregistered, uninsured or unidentified) the claim must be served on the insurer within 3 months of the accident or a reasonable excuse for delay is required. The claim must be served (and considered “compliant”) within 9 months of the accident or the claim will be statute barred and you will lose all entitlements to claim. These time limits are strict.
All other states and territories in Australia have CTP insurance schemes with very similar claim procedures and claim forms. You should obtain legal advice with respect to these time limits as soon as possible to ensure your claim is protected.
What type of compensation can I claim?
What you can claim depends on where your motor accident occurred and what thresholds or restrictions apply. Motor vehicle compensation claims can include general damages, pain and suffering, loss of amenities, loss of income (including superannuation), medical treatment costs and the costs of aids and equipment, fees associated with employment services or return to work assistance, the cost of care you may need, and home modifications that may be required to accommodate your injury. In some cases, a contribution towards your total legal costs associated with making the claim may also be rewarded.
How much compensation may I be able to claim?
The nature, severity and permanency of your injuries and symptoms, your age, your income and employment history, your treatment requirements, and the prognosis for improvement or deterioration of your condition in the future are just some of the factors that can influence how much compensation you may be entitled to claim after being injured in a motor vehicle accident.
For a compensation lawyer to accurately assess the value of a compensation claim, the injured person’s injuries must be considered medically stable and stationary, at which time medical assessors will report on the effects of the injuries on all aspects of the injured person’s life so far, and what is expected for the future.
What if I was hurt in a hit and run and cannot identify the vehicle?
If you are unable to identify the vehicle that caused the accident and injury, you are able to make a claim against the Nominal Defendant which steps in to act like the CTP insurer.
Read more: Nominal Defendant Claims
What can I expect to happen when I make a compensation claim?
In most cases your claim will be settled at out of court settlement conferences or mediations, which means it is unlikely you will have to go to Court.
Your compensation lawyer takes care of all the negotiations and communications with the insurer on your behalf, keeping you up to date and in control every step of the way.
In most cases, a compensation claim will be resolved within 12-18 months. In claims where injuries are more serious or complex, extended timeframes may be applicable.
Attwood Marshall Lawyers – Helping injured motorists for over 75 years
At Attwood Marshall Lawyers, our Compensation Law experts regularly act for the families of those who have been needlessly killed on our roads, and for those left with severe and lifelong injuries caused by another driver. Whilst we help grieving families who have lost a loved one with accessing compensation and paying the bills, nothing will ever compensate them for the tragic loss of life. Those who suffer serious injury receive our help with treatment costs, income loss, care requirements, and pain and suffering, but no amount of compensation makes it worth going through the upheaval and pain of enduring catastrophic injuries in the first place.
During National Road Safety Week, we encourage everyone to take the time to acknowledge this initiative, and to reflect on your own road behaviour. Do you take risks? Do your loved ones? We need to have more conversations that will ultimately save lives.
We encourage everyone to visit www.roadsafetyweek.com.au and take the pledge to drive safe so that others survive.
Please be safe on our roads, put phones and distractions away, stay alert, exercise more patience and understanding, and be vigilant about the safety of all road users as well as your own vehicle.
Our expert compensation law team at Attwood Marshall Lawyers are here to help you when the worst happens – let’s hope it never comes to that. If you need advice or guidance after being involved in a motor vehicle accident, our compensation law team are available to talk any time.
For a confidential discussion or upfront case assessment, please contact our Compensation Law Department on 1800 621 071.