Tragically, from 1 January 2021 to 8 April 2021 alone 78 lives have been lost due to motor vehicle accidents on New South Wales roads.

As well as coping with grief, the death of a loved one in a motor vehicle accident can cause financial hardship for a bereaved family.

The Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 provides a compensation scheme for the family members of the deceased.

Experience suggests that due to reasons such as psychological distress, the relatives of someone deceased in a motor vehicle accident can delay in seeking legal advice. It is critical to be aware that strict time limits apply to claims arising from a death in a motor vehicle accident.

Psychological injury

The Motor Accident Injuries Act provides for the following relatives of the deceased to claim compensation for a psychological injury:

(a)  a parent of the victim or other person with parental responsibility for the victim, or

(b)  the spouse or partner of the victim, or

(c)  a child or stepchild of the victim or any other person for whom the victim has parental responsibility, or

(d)  a brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister, or stepbrother or stepsister of the victim.

If the person who sustained the psychological injury also witnessed the accident, it is not necessary that their relationship with the deceased fall into one of the above categories.

It is necessary that the psychological injury be a recognised psychiatric illness.

Statutory benefits

In most instances, the injured person will be entitled to statutory benefits (being medical expenses and weekly payments by way of income support) for a period of six months post-accident.

To claim statutory benefits beyond six months, it is necessary that the psychological injury be “non-minor” and that the deceased not be wholly or mostly at fault for the accident.

Funeral expenses are also payable as a statutory benefit.


A non-minor psychological injury arising from the death of a family member may also create an entitlement to a damages claim, being a payment for economic loss and non-economic loss (or pain and suffering).  The insurer can deny such a claim on the basis that the deceased was at fault for the accident.

Compensation to relatives

Regardless of whether a person bereaved by a motor vehicle accident has suffered a psychiatric injury, it may still be possible to bring a compensation to relatives claim, for a loss of dependency on the deceased.

Get in touch with us

If you had suffered an injury as a result of a motor vehicle accident, contact our expert car accident lawyers on 13 43 63 for advice.