If you or a loved one become one of the thousands of Australians who suffer a personal injury for which you’re entitled to seek compensation, one of your biggest concerns will be how long the process will take. The stress of medical bills, lost wages, additional care costs, and the pain and suffering of the injury itself, can mean every day that passes without resolution can feel like an eternity. Every situation is unique and some claims may take longer to resolve than others due to a variety of factors.
Type of claim
There are many different ways to injure oneself in our world. The most common injuries result from motor vehicle accidents, however, there are many other circumstances where an injury may give rise to a personal injury claim: work related injuries, medical negligence, public and product liability injuries, crime victim related injuries, professional negligence, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Different claims have different timeliness requirements.
Claims arising from motor vehicle accidents: If your injury was caused by a motor vehicle accident, you will have 28 days from the date of the accident to file a claim with the local police. Within six months of the accident, you will need to file a claim with the CTP insurer of the at-fault driver.
All other claims: If your injury was caused in any way not involving a motor vehicle accident, you will have to file a claim within three years from the date your injury was sustained or discovered. Overall, you will have 12 years from when the act caused your injury.
Exceptions: In all cases, the court may review the time frame and allow you to file a claim, even if you would be otherwise barred. This will require you to demonstrate a good cause, so it’s important not to miss these deadlines.
Type of injury
Some claims involving more minor injuries may move more quickly. This is because these injuries tend to stabilize more quickly and thus you are more quickly able to determine your losses and future needs. In order to accurately determine what compensation you are owed, it is necessary to determine how much you’ve lost: that is, what are your damages?
Damages can only be determined once a condition stabilizes and the long-term effects can be predicted and quantified. However, with larger ‘catastrophic’ injuries, they will likely take longer to stabilize. Once this occurs, you will provide these details to your insurer who can either accept the damages or the claim will proceed to court.
Once you file the claim and send the insurer all of the necessary information, they will respond with either a settlement offer, or the claim can proceed to court. The claim will then be addressed according to the court’s timetable, which generally means that you will have the opportunity for a hearing within a year to a year-and-a-half after the proceedings are commenced. During this time, you, your legal representation, and medical team will work together to build the strongest case possible in support of your claim. This may involve multiple doctor’s visits and you should be prepared to record everything relevant, particularly costs.
The uncertain and extended timetable of court proceedings can be daunting and wallet-draining for many. This is why it is often tempting for the injured party to settle, even if it is a low offer or they haven’t yet calculated their total damages. While settling early can save you time and stress, you should certainly wait until you are fully informed as to your claim’s value so that you know whether the trade-off is worth it to you and your particular circumstances.
If you have any questions or need someone to help alleviate the burden of a personal injury claim, please contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible.