From injury to insurance: What happens after a car accident?

If you're involved in a car accident, there are steps you can take to ensure the insurance claim process is as smooth as possible. Here's an overview of how we helped one of our client's resolve their claim.

Jasmine* was sitting in her car, stationary at a roundabout, when her vehicle was hit from behind by another car. Her neck and lower back seized up, and she required assistance to get out of her car. Fortunately, other drivers who had stopped at the scene of the accident could help.

From impacting her ability to work to causing issues in her relationships, the accident and resulting injury made Jasmine's life harder than she initially anticipated. Here's what Jasmine did to get financial compensation to help get her life back on track.

1. Exchange details with the other driver

Always get the details of the other driver. This includes their contact details, insurance details, licence number, registration and the make and model of their vehicle. If the other driver leaves the scene without stopping, try to get as much detail as you can about the vehicle, including the vehicle make, model and colour, and the registration number.

Whether the other driver is present or not, it’s also important to get the details of any witnesses who have stopped to help.

2. Seek medical treatment

Injuries are as varied as the circumstances surrounding each car accident. But the most common we see are whiplash, back injuries, seatbelt bruising and psychological injuries, all of which need medical attention as soon as possible.

If your injuries need more urgent medical attention, you’ll need to call an ambulance. Jasmine was wise to have her husband pick her up from the scene of the accident and take her straight to her GP.

3. Contact the police

Call the police to report the accident. In Jasmine’s case, the police couldn't attend the scene of the accident, so her husband drove her to the police station to file a report and provide them with the witnesses’ details.

4. Contact your insurer

Jasmine called her insurer before leaving the scene of the accident, because she needed to arrange a tow truck to pick up the car.

Each company has a different set of procedures you need to follow after an accident. The insurance company will want to know as much as possible about how the accident occurred, who was involved and the damage sustained to any vehicles.

5. Lodge a claim with your state’s statutory insurer

Your car insurance will only cover the damage to the vehicles involved in the accident. To receive compensation and other entitlements for your physical and mental injuries, you need to lodge a claim with your state's statutory insurer – the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) in Victoria, State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) in New South Wales and Queensland’s Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC), for example.

As soon as she arrived home, Jasmine took two important steps:

  • She rang the TAC to lodge a claim for her back and neck injuries.
  • She started a paperwork file relating to the accident (the police report, the other driver’s details and witness details).

Keeping a record of the information relating to her accident helped us with her claim throughout the process. While you might think you'll be able to remember everything, recording as much information as possible ensures accuracy and can help avoid delays.

6. Seek legal advice about your injury

If you have an injury that’s likely to have ongoing consequences, consider seeking legal advice sooner rather than later.

Your lawyer can explain the process to you so you’ll know what to expect. Your lawyer can also offer advice about whether the insurer's decisions are fair or not. In some cases, they may be policy decisions as opposed to law, and so they can be challenged to receive more suitable compensation or have entitlements reinstated.

The compensation you are entitled to after a car accident injury can include:

  • medical expenses (e.g. physiotherapy, surgery or even modifications to your home or car if you’ve been permanently injured)
  • loss of wages
  • impairment benefit (if you’re left with a permanent injury)
  • common law compensation for injuries that are both caused by someone else and considered‘serious’. (A 'serious' injury is one where you suffer permanent impairment in more than 30 per cent of your body, or where the injury has had a serious impact on your life and meets the definition of serious injury according to the law.)

Jasmine initially tried to manage her back and neck injuries through physiotherapy and over-the-counter medication. When she saw no improvement, her GP referred her for a scan which revealed she had sustained disc damage in her spine.

Her back injury affected every part of Jasmine’s life. She was unable to return to work, found it difficult to do household chores and to care for her children, her sleep was disturbed and relationships with her husband, family and friends suffered.

When it all became too much to do alone, Jasmine sought legal advice. We helped her manage her claim and sought compensation for pain and suffering, and loss of earnings in the past and future. She wished she had sought legal advice sooner.

Jasmine and her husband put the compensation money into the mortgage, easing some of the financial strain following the accident. While the money won't change the injury, it has helped relieve some of the financial pressure.

* Real name has been changed.

TOPIC: Road rights
RELATED LEGAL SERVICES: Road accident injuries

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Danielle Leo

Maurice Blackburn Sunshine
Danielle Leo is a Senior Associate and Personal Injury Accredited Specialist in Maurice Blackburn’s Sunshine office in Victoria. She specialises in providing motor vehicle accident compensation legal advice and representation for people making common law and TAC claims. Danielle joined Maurice Blackburn more than 10 years ago and is an extremely tenacious solicitor. She never gives up her fight against the TAC, and has had many notable wins against the commission over the past decade. These include successfully: arguing for the TAC to pay for a client’s university tuition after an injury from a car accident forced him out of his regular line of work proving a back injury sustained at a later date was related to her client’s road accident, resulting in the Court finding in favour of her client obtaining a significant back-payment of loss of earnings benefits for a client who the TAC had decided was not an earner, and obtaining significant compensation for a client who had battled the TAC for several years. Danielle holds Bachelor degrees in Laws and Behavioural Science from La Trobe University. She enjoys fighting the TAC and insurance companies, but is kind and understanding when it counts. She is motivated by the knowledge she can help her clients and their families during their time of greatest need. “Transport accidents change people’s lives in a split second, affecting not only the injured person, but their family and friends, too,” says Danielle. “Accidents don’t discriminate; they affect people of different ages and all different backgrounds. If I can help these people get their life back on track, it is important that I do.” Danielle always remains focused on the bigger picture – helping her clients take charge of their future health and happiness. “Helping people to obtain the medical treatment, income assistance or compensation to get their life back on track and make as much of a recovery back to their pre-accident life as normal is what inspires me most.” Danielle is proud of her Italian heritage, is fluent in speaking Italian, and describes herself as a “little Italian firecracker willing to fight to the end.” Accreditations and memberships Law Institute of Victoria Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law LIV member Australian Lawyers Alliance member Western Suburbs Law Association Executive Committee member Geelong Law Association past president Maurice Blackburn Women’s Network member ...

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