Navigating motor vehicle accident claims can feel like a daunting task. We’re here to help make the process easier to understand. If you’ve been injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident on or after 1 December 2017, and you were not at fault, your potential entitlements will be largely determined by whether you have a ‘minor injury’ or a ‘non-minor injury’.
What is the difference between “minor” or “non-minor” injury
The type of compensation that you may be eligible for is dependent on the type of injury.
Minor physical injuries include soft tissue injuries that are not complete tears or ruptures of ligaments or muscles, or a spinal injury that does not result in clinically identifiable radiculopathy (referred pain).
Minor psychological injuries are generally psychological injuries other than a recognised psychiatric illness. If you have been diagnosed with either an “acute stress disorder” or an “adjustment disorder” only, you will be determined as having a minor injury.
Non-minor injuries include (but are not limited to):
* Spinal injuries resulting in indefinable radiculopathy;
* Damage to organs;
* Injury to nerves;
* Complete or partial rupture of tendons, ligaments, menisci or cartilage; and
* Recognised psychiatric injuries such as PTSD but not an “acute stress disorder” or an “adjustment disorder”.
Why does it matter?
The type of injury sustained in the accident will determine what can be claimed. Because of this, the decision made by the insurer as to whether you have a ‘minor injury’ can have a huge impact on your potential entitlement to compensation.
If the only injuries sustained in the accident are determined to be “minor injuries” then you cannot:
- receive statutory benefits beyond 26 weeks from the accident (other than in some very limited circumstances); and
- claim lump sum compensation (a damages claim) in respect of the accident – which may include compensation for non-economic loss (pain and suffering) and economic loss.
If one or more non-minor injury has been sustained in the accident you have a potential entitlement to statutory benefits and a claim for damages. This entitlement remains even if the injury has completely healed.
The insurer will make an assessment to determine whether your injuries were minor or not, within 3 months of your claim lodgement. Therefore, it is very important to get properly examined and diagnosed as soon as possible. The best ways to do this is by obtaining radiology such as x-rays, CT scans and MRI’s as soon as possible. This can help your claim.
You can challenge the insurer’s decision if you don’t agree with their determination, and a lawyer can do this on your behalf. Our Motor Accident lawyers are experienced in such claims and are able to assist in this process.
This article has dealt briefly with the minor injury provisions within the NSW System in a general way. It should not be considered legal advice. To discuss your entitlements and to obtain legal advice, contact us. Our team of friendly and experienced lawyers are ready to help you make a claim and ensure you receive the compensation that you deserve.
For more information on the statutory benefit system please click here.