*This blog content is in relation to Queensland legislation.
Invariably, when considering pursuing a motor vehicle accident claim, Claimants are intrigued as to the potential value of their claim. A variety of online compensation calculators are at their disposal however the accuracy of undertaking such an exercise is far from precise.
Each motor vehicle accident claim is unique and contingent upon personal circumstances including, but not limited to, the severity of injuries, age, employment circumstances, pre-existing medical conditions, and pre-injury lifestyle.
Heads of damages
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident at no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation as a result of the accident.
The total value of a claim, or quantum, is assessed under several categories known as the heads of damages. The various heads of damages are the elements in a compensation claim that a court awards a monetary value towards. The combination of these elements will make the total ‘damages’ or amount of compensation awarded.
The heads of damages generally include the following:
- General damages (pain and suffering) – a claim to receive payment for pain, suffering and loss of amenities of life;
- Past and future economic loss – a claim for loss of income in the past and future (including superannuation) and/or capacity to earn an income;
- Past and future special damages – a claim to recover costs in the past and into the future for expenses such as medical treatment, medication, aids and equipment etc.
- Domestic care and assistance – a claim for domestic or personal care such as cleaning, garden maintenance or cooking provided by a paid provider or gratuitously.
Of note, under the Civil Liability Act 2003, a claim for gratuitous services must be provided for at least six (6) hours per week for at least six (6) consecutive months for award for damages within this category.
Generally, the economic loss component of a claim is awarded the largest monetary value.
A claim for economic Loss
If a Claimants’ accident-related injuries have affected their ability to work or obtain employment, they may be eligible to make a claim for economic loss for the past and into the future. Past economic loss is calculated from the date of the incident until the anticipated settlement date or court judgement while future economic loss compensates Claimants for a loss of future earning capacity.
The combination of these heads of damages makes up the economic loss component of a compensation claim and as stated, generally, is the largest component of a claim. The Motor Accident Insurance Commission’s report from 2020 to 2021 exemplifies this. The report investigated, amongst other things, the payments in compensation claims and identified the following: –
Figure 1, MAIC – Annual CTP scheme insight: 2020-2021
Largely, it can be readily ascertained the loss of income a Claimant has sustained in the past however the precise nature and impact that injuries will have on a Claimant’s ability to earn an income into the future is more allusive. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball to predict the future however the opinion of medical experts can assist in shedding light on this issue.
Independent medical examinations
An Independent Medical Examination (IME) is an assessment performed by a medical expert to evaluate and provide an expert opinion about a Claimant’s injuries.
These reports are prepared by experts such as Orthopedic Surgeons, Psychiatrists and Occupational Therapists who provide comprehensive assessment and assist with answering pertinent questions to claims including: –
- Treatment needs;
- Fitness for work/functional capacity;
- Care requirements; and
- Permanent impairment.
To comprehensively evaluate the impact injuries will have on a Claimant, IME’s are generally conducted approximately nine (9) to twelve (12) months following the incident and once a Claimants injuries are considered stable and stationary, simply put, when the injuries will not likely become better or worse.
Once such medical evidence is obtained the precise impact of an individual’s injuries can be evaluated.
It is challenging to evaluate what an injured person’s claim is worth shortly following an accident while the impact of their injuries is not fully known. The best time to be able to accurately identify the likely compensation available is once all injuries have been properly treated and have stabilised.
When all relevant evidence, including evidence obtained by medical specialists, is obtained the precise nature and impact injuries will have on an individual can be more accurately assessed and the best outcome can be achieved for an injured person.
At Turner Freeman Lawyers, we are here to help you through the claims process and to relieve some of that stress and pressure from you. If you require our assistance, we encourage you to contact us on 13 43 63 for an obligation free case assessment. Turner Freeman Lawyers has offices in Cairns, Sunshine Coast, North Lakes, Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Logan and the Gold Coast and our expert compensation lawyers service all areas of Queensland.