If you have been injured in a car accident in Brisbane and cannot earn an income as a result, you may be able to claim compensation to help pay your bills while you recover.
After the accident
If you’re involved in any accident with another vehicle, firstly check whether anyone needs medical care and get help yourself if you’re injured.
Also get as many details as you can about the at-fault driver. Make a note of their name and contact details, car registration and CTP insurer.
Then you should report the accident to the police as soon as possible, ideally within 28 days. If you make a claim against the driver’s CTP insurance, you will need to state whether you have notified the police and provide a reason if you haven’t.
Eligibility to claim
You can claim for loss of income if you have been injured due to another driver’s negligence and cannot do your usual paid work (or find some other way to earn an income) either temporarily or permanently.
This includes if you were:
- the driver of another vehicle, including truck, motorcycle
- a passenger in another vehicle, including public transport
- a cyclist
- a pedestrian hit by a vehicle.
If you were driving, you need to have had a valid driver’s licence at the time and not been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If the accident was entirely or partly your fault, you might still be entitled to a reduced amount for loss of income.
You can make a claim if you have a full-time, part-time or casual job, or if you’re a carer or are self-employed.
For example, you can claim for loss of income if you:
- work as a casual, such as a nurse, barista or aged care assistant
- own a hairdressing salon
- are a carpenter, electrician or other self-employed tradespersons
- are a full-time carer for someone.
You can also make a claim if your spouse or partner was killed due to another driver’s negligence and they were earning a major share of the family’s income.
Note: If you were injured by a vehicle when you were at work, or travelling to or from work, you can make a workers compensation claim as well as a motor vehicle accident claim.
What you can claim
You can claim for the income you have lost while recovering from the accident (i.e. ‘past economic loss’).
You might also be able to claim for future lost income. For example, you may be unable to take up a promotion or other job opportunity because of your injuries.
For example, if you run a business, such as a hair salon, you might lose clients because you’re not there. If you are a nurse, you might lose shifts or your job entirely. This can have major financial implications for you and your family.
If your partner or spouse was killed in the accident, leaving your family with a reduced income, you can make a claim for that lost income.
Who pays the compensation?
To claim compensation, you need to lodge a motor vehicle accident compensation claim.
The claim is actually made against the at-fault driver’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurer. All vehicle owners in Queensland must pay CTP insurance with their registration.
If the other driver does not have insurance or you cannot identify them (e.g. because it was a hit and run), you can make a claim through the Nominal Defendant in Queensland. This is a statutory body that compensates injured victims of negligent drivers who can’t be identified or don’t have CTP insurance.
If the other vehicle was not insured, the Nominal Defendant can recover the amount as a debt from the owner and/or driver of the vehicle.
Time limits for claims
Every state has its own rules for claiming loss of income benefits. In Queensland, strict time limits apply to making a motor vehicle accident compensation claim.
You have nine months after you’re injured to provide the other driver’s insurer with a Notice of Accident Claim form. However, this is reduced to one month if you speak to a lawyer about making a claim.
There are also strict time limits if the accident is a hit and run and you don’t know anything about the vehicle that caused the accident.
It may be possible to get an extension on these time limits if you have a good reason. But you should speak to a lawyer if this is the case to give you the best chance of being granted an extension.
In Queensland, the cut-off for making a claim for a motor vehicle accident is three years after the accident. Generally you can’t get an extension on this time, though a court may grant you one if there are extenuating circumstances, such as if injuries or other physical conditions resulting from the accident aren’t discovered until later on.
Records you need
Before you lodge, make sure you have all the records you need to support your claim for lost income. This may include:
- pay slips from least six months before the accident to prove how much you were earning
- medical records to prove that you can’t/couldn’t work.
You should also try to show that you attempted to return to work as soon as you could.
And if you are unable to find alternative work (such as a desk job) – perhaps due to the area you live in or the extent of your injuries – also provide evidence of this.
If you are self-employed, you should contact your accountant immediately and tell them that your business will suffer a loss due to the accident and your resulting injury.
Collate any records you need to prove your claim for lost income, including profit and loss statements, and accounts from the three months before the accident.
You could also provide work diaries, emails, invoices and contracts that you couldn’t complete because of your accident. This will help with the calculation of the loss to your business.
Your injuries may be so severe that will continue to have an effect on your potential to earn an income in the future. If this is the case, you may be able to make a claim for future earnings.
To prove this, your doctor will need to provide a full assessment of your injuries. You need to show how the accident and the resulting injuries have limited/will limit your potential to earn an income.
You will need to wait until you have reached the limit of your recovery before you can show this.
How much you’re entitled to?
The outcome of your claim will depend on several factors, including how much you were earning before the accident, how often you worked and how regular the work was.
It also depends on the extent of your injuries, and whether they are temporary or permanent. And the extent to which you were at fault for the accident will also be considered.
Your car accident lawyer can advise you on potential outcomes for your particular situation.
Is court required?
In most cases, you don’t need to go to court, as claims with insurers are often settled out of court through negotiation. Your lawyer can advise on whether court will be required.
Time frame for settlement
A settlement can usually be reached once you have reached a stable point where you have recovered as much as you’re going to – you’re not likely to get any worse or better.
So your settlement should take a few months or longer, depending on the severity of your injuries.
It can be tempting to just settle the claim quickly because it’s taking a while. But we do recommend being patient with the process because a motor vehicle accident claim can be complex.
It’s important to wait and find out the value of your claim so you know what you’re entitled to. Ask your lawyer for advice before making any decisions.
How to begin
To start the process of claiming compensation for a motor vehicle accident, you should:
- report the incident to the police
- get details about the at-fault driver, including who their insurer is
- get a medical certificate from your doctor detailing your injuries
- submit a Notice of Accident Claim Form within the time limits that apply.
You should also contact a car accident lawyer to get comprehensive information about your options, what you can claim for, and how much you may be entitled to.
How we can help
If you have been injured in a car accident, we can visit you at home, in a hospital, or any other premises in the Greater Brisbane region.
If you have grounds to make a car accident injury compensation claim, we may be able to act for you on a no win no fee basis to help you get the compensation you deserve while you recover.
Contact us for a discussion about claiming loss of income after a car accident