Motor vehicle injury compensation - how does the system work?
The Insurance Commission of Western Australia ("ICWA") administers the Compulsory Third Party ("CTP") motor vehicle insurance scheme in Western Australia. In 2018 ICWA generated more than $1.5 billion in revenue and earnings and paid $391 million in compensation payments to people injured in motor vehicle accidents.
When a negligent motor vehicle driver injures another driver, passenger, cyclist or pedestrian the injured person is able to make a claim for personal injury compensation. When ICWA receives an application for compensation it assess the claim and then makes a decision regarding liability. If ICWA accepts liability for the accident and the injuries caused, it indemnifies or takes the place of the negligent driver in legal proceedings that seek compensation for the claimant. Put simply ICWA becomes the defendant in these proceedings and the injured person or plaintiff is then able to sue ICWA for damages under the CTP scheme.
In order to protect itself from a claim made by an injured plaintiff, ICWA instructs a defendant lawyer to represent and defend it against the claim. With the knowledge that they will have to negotiate with a defendant lawyer in order to obtain their compensation payment, injured plaintiff's often instruct a plaintiff injury lawyer to negotiate and settle their claim. Injured plaintiffs have the legal right to appoint a personal injury lawyer to assist them with their compensation claim at any point through the claim process.
Car crash compensation claims - how are they settled?
Once you have recovered from your injuries or your symptoms have stabilised, negotiations for the settlement of your claim can be commenced. Depending on the severity of the injuries and progression of recovery and rehabilitation, the plaintiff injury lawyer may request that you be assessed by a medico legal specialist approximately 1 year after the date of accident. This is to determine diagnosis, prognosis, level of permanent disability, future medical treatment requirements and very importantly how the injury impacts, prevents or limits the injured plaintiff's ability to work and earn a living.
How are the majority of car accident compensation claims are settled?
The vast majority of car accident compensation claims managed by Separovic Injury Lawyers are finalised by way of a negotiated settlement at a District Court Pre-trial Conference.
Once all relevant medical and financial evidence has been obtained, analysed and prepared, a number of procedural steps are completed after which a Writ of Summons is filed in the District Court. The motor vehicle injury compensation claim can then proceed to a District Court Pre-trial Conference
What happens at a Pre-Trial Conference in the District Court?
Claimants are required to personally attend their District Court Pre-Trial Conference. This process involves first meeting with your injury lawyer from Separovic Injury Lawyers in the District Court waiting room. Your injury lawyer will then escort you to an assigned meeting room and will then explain how the Pre-trial Conference will proceed. Your solicitor will then attend a meeting room where representatives from ICWA and their legal team will be set up. Once negotiations are commenced your injury lawyer will move between your meeting room and the defendant's meeting room communicating offers and counter offers to you and the defendant. It is quite common at Pre-Trial Conferences for multiple offers of settlement to be made by both sides.
This process of negotiation has been developed to ensure that the claimant is made as comfortable as possible while the proceedings take place. At this stage the claimant is not required to communicate with the defendant's representatives as this is all done through the plaintiff injury lawyer. It should be noted that claimants that are based in rural areas, interstate or out of Australia can usually be excused from personally attending, provided they are available via a phone connection.
What happens if my claim is settled through these negotiations?
If you agree to a settlement sum that has been offered by the defendant or if the defendant agrees to a settlement offer your plaintiff injury lawyer has made, the settlement or finalisation of your claim can often be formalised on the spot. Here, documents consenting to judgment for the agreed compensation amount can often be prepared and signed at the Pre-Trial Conference. If this is not possible and additional documentation required the settlement can be completed by your plaintiff injury lawyer, the defendant lawyer and the District Court Registrar.
What happens if a settlement cannot be negotiated?
If the claimant and the defendant are not able to reach a negotiated settlement, the matter will usually be heard by a District Court Registrar. A District Court Registrar is an independent judicial officer who is a qualified lawyer with significant experience and training as a mediator.
Once the Registrar has conduct of the Pre-Trial Conference they will run it as they see fit given the specific circumstances of the claim. The plaintiff and the defendant, through their legal representatives, are asked to explain and provide rationale for their position and to also outline and detail any settlement proposals being considered. Following these discussions the Registrar may request to speak with each party and their lawyers privately in an attempt to mediate and move the parties closer to settlement.
If the Registrar is not able to mediate between the parties the Pre-Trial Conference will typically be adjourned and a listing conference organised. At a listing conference the Court may schedule the case for a Trial sometime in the future.
At this point it is important to note that Separovic Injury Lawyers has over 30 year experience preparing, negotiating and settling motor vehicle injury compensation claims. We settle over 98% of our claims at the Pre-Trial Conference stage and achieve excellent results. Strict legislative timelines apply to your ability to make a car accident compensation claim. Don't put your claim at risk by delaying and call us as soon as possible for free, no obligation legal advice.