Can I claim for motor accidents when no one is at fault?
People often ask whether or not they can make motor accident compensation claims when no one is to blame for vehicle collisions.
Car accidents may take a huge toll on the people involved, particularly for those who suffer serious injuries or even permanent disabilities in collisions. In some cases, the psychological and financial strains that victims experience following major incidents are felt long after physical ailments have healed.
Car accident compensation in NSW. Contributory negligence may still be a factor in blameless accidents.
Most individuals are aware that compensation is available for road users who sustain injuries from motor accidents where someone else is at fault. This may be due carelessness behind the wheel, the consumption of alcohol or various other factors beyond the plaintiff’s control.
In addition, you may be surprised to learn that NSW legislation also enables you to pursue financial recompense for injuries – both physical and psychological – even when accidents are blameless. According to the state’s Motor Accidents Authority, such situations may arise when people suffer sudden illnesses like heart attacks and strokes while driving or if vehicles’ brakes fail.
The courts can reduce your compensation if they believe contributory negligence is a factor. At first glance, this may seem incongruent with the concept of a blameless accident. However, you can still be considered negligent without your behaviour being a primary cause of the incident, such as forgetting to wear a seatbelt.
Blameless accident in NSW
Dowedeit v Nominal Defendant  is a recent real-life example of a blameless accident occurring. The case was particularly unusual because there were no witnesses and the plaintiff, Ronald Dowedeit, suffered amnesia and could not recall the incident.
The man was discovered lying on the road outside his apartment with serious injuries. He had nine broken ribs, as well as breaks to his forearm, pelvis and two vertebrae. Despite this, the plaintiff was unsure how the accident had happened.
While there was relatively little proof that a vehicle struck Mr Dowedeit, the courts decided on the balance of probabilities that this was the most likely cause of his injuries. District Court Judge Philip Taylor offered an explanation for why he had to rule the accident as blameless.
“It was common ground that if I found that the injuries were caused by a motor vehicle and that there was no negligence, then the incident was a blameless motor accident,” he stated.
“Additionally, s 7C of the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 presumes the motor accident to be blameless if that is alleged, and there is no evidence to the contrary. Both these requirements were satisfied in the present case.”
Blameless car accident compensation. You may still be eligible for compensation if you suffer injuries in car accidents where no one is at fault.
How much compensation could I receive?
The above case highlights how unique certain car accident scenarios can transpire, which is why you should always contact an experienced compensation lawyer in NSW to discuss your claim. They can assess the circumstances surrounding the incident, gather evidence on your behalf and advise you on the best course of action regarding settlements and court proceedings.
If successful, your compensation could cover loss of past and future income, medical and care expenses and a range of other costs incurred following your injury. Your final payment may be subject to contributory negligence reductions.
For instance, Mr Dowedeit was originally awarded $349,100 for his injuries. However, Judge Taylor halved the payment due to contributory negligence, even though the details of the accident were unknown. This was due to the fact the plaintiff admitted that he sometimes didn’t look left and right properly before crossing the road.
The judge decided, again, on the balance of probabilities, that Mr Dowedeit would have seen an oncoming car if he had been paying attention. As such, the plaintiff’s compensation was reduced to $174,550.
A: If you’ve had a motor car accident, stop your vehicle and turn on your hazard lights. Make sure nobody is injured, and if so, call emergency 000 and remain at the scene of the accident. If it’s a minor incident you don’t need to call the police, but move the damaged cars if possible. Never admit responsibility even if you think you were at fault. Collect name, address, registration number and insurance details from the other parties and get witness details if possible.
A: Motor accident compensation claims are normally finalised after you’ve recovered, or your injuries have stabilised. It can take some people longer to recover than others – from days to years – which determines the length of time it can take to finalise a claim. Also, your injuries may not always appear immediately after the accident and can take some time to appear, in some cases, years.
A: In a carpark, anyone driving in the lanes has the right of way, so if you’re the one pulling out of the car space and hit another motor vehicle, you are likely to be the majority at fault in the accident. However, since both cars are moving, both drivers might hold some responsibility. But if you hit a parked car, you are likely at fault.
A: When lodging a claim for compensation after a motor vehicle accident it’s best to do it as soon as possible. However, it isn’t always feasible if you were severely injured and couldn’t file a claim straight away. There are time limits, however, so get someone to call a lawyer at PK Simpson for you to lodge a claim at least within six months of the crash.
A: The length of time you have to make your claim depends on the jurisdiction.
TPD claims – these may be commenced up to 10 years after you’ve stopped work. TPD claims are very technical and you may have more than one TPD claim.
Car accident claims – A personal injury claim form should be filled in and sent to your CTP insurer as early as possible, but must be no later than six months from the date of your accident. HOWEVER, out of time claims may be made. New NSW CTP laws have made it difficult for injured people and many law firms still do not understand how to run new claims under these laws – so call us at PK Simpson Sydney as soon as possible.
Workers compensation claims – You should contact a lawyer within six months of the accident. But remember, out of time claims can be handled by PK Simpson Sydney. We can help you get the treatment required to build your claim.
Slip ‘n’ fall/occupiers liability claims – Your claim must be lodged usually within three years of the date of your accident.
Medical Negligence – within three years of the date of when the cause of action was discoverable to our client OR 12 years from the time of the act or omission which caused the injury through negligence.
A: At PK Simpson compensation lawyers we operate on a no-win, no-fee basis. However, for detailed information on the legal costs that can be charged for statutory benefits CTP Insurance car accident claims in NSW click on this link.