Motor Vehicle Accidents FAQs

Can I make a motor vehicle accident claim?
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, in Queensland or elsewhere, you may be entitled to compensation.
All motor vehicles in Australia are required to be covered by compulsory third party (CTP) insurance.  A claim can still be made if the vehicle is unidentified or unregistered. Your claim will be handled by the CTP insurer, not the owner or driver of the motor vehicle at fault, and it is the insurer who will pay any damages. 
In Queensland, you can make a claim if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident which is at least partly the fault of another person. Liability for a motor vehicle accident can be a complicated issue - claims have been successfully pursued by drivers in single-vehicle accidents.   We can advise you in detail about your right to claim and your prospects of success.
Some CTP insurers offer “driver-at-fault” cover which provides a lump sum payment for specific injuries.  We can assist you to apply for those benefits.
Different rules can apply in other states and overseas – we can advise you about that.
How do I make a motor vehicle accident claim?

You can make a claim yourself, or you can appoint a lawyer to manage the process on your behalf.  The first thing that has to happen if you decide to make a claim is that notice needs to be given to the CTP insurer.

Strict time limits apply when making a claim against an insurer – you need to get expert advice as soon as possible about the limits that apply to you.
What can I claim?
It is impossible even to estimate the amount of damages you might recover in a motor vehicle accident claim without knowing a lot more about you and your injuries.
Damages you might recover include:
  • Medical and other out of pocket expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Care and assistance
  • Aids and equipment
  • Future expenses
In some circumstances, the insurer will reimburse you for expenses you have incurred, or pay medical or rehabilitation expenses up-front – we can advise and assist you with this.
You may also be entitled to make separate claims for additional insurance benefits such as income protection and total and permanent disablement benefits.  You will find more information about these claims under the relevant sections of this website. 
Do I need a lawyer to make a motor vehicle accident claim?
No, you can handle the claim yourself.
However, insurers have extensive experience in defending claims and will often instruct lawyers to act on their behalf.  Insurers cannot provide you with independent advice.  You may therefore find yourself at a disadvantage if you do not have legal representation.
Will the insurer pay my legal costs?
Whether your insurer pays your legal costs depends on the amount of damages you recover.
Legislation in Queensland restricts the amount an insurer has to contribute towards your costs – we will provide detailed advice about this legislation when you consult with MurphySchmidt.  Even if the insurer is required to pay something towards your costs, it will not cover your entire costs.  The difference will need to be paid from your settlement or judgment monies.  We will discuss this with you in detail when we give you our initial Costs Agreement and before you instruct us to act on your behalf.
How long will the motor vehicle accident claim take?
It is impossible to say how long a claim will take without knowing a lot more about you and your claim.   Some relevant factors include:
  • the severity and extent of your injuries – it is vital that your injuries be stable and stationary before any settlement negotiations commence – in Queensland, any damages you receive will be in full and final settlement of your claim.
  • whether the insurer disputes liability for your claim.
  • your age – if a child is injured, it is sometimes best to wait for them to finish school and start work so that an accurate assessment of the impact of their injuries can be made.
Will I need to go to court for a motor vehicle accident claim?
Queensland legislation requires that the claimant and the insurer attempt to reach a settlement before court proceedings are issued. Motor Vehicle claims are very rarely decided by a judge.  Even if proceedings are issued in court, claims frequently settle before reaching trial.
How am I charged and how much do I have to pay?
If we think you have reasonable prospects of success, we will usually agree to act on a speculative basis.  That means we will not charge for our professional fees unless and until your claim is successfully finalised.
We do require payment of any costs or outlays (eg. medico-legal reports from a specialist) incurred on your behalf, even if your claim is not successful.  We will not incur significant outlays without first discussing it with you.  An estimate of outlays will be provided in our Costs Agreement. 
Our costs will be reasonable – we will discuss them with you in detail before you instruct us to act on your behalf and will enter into a Costs Agreement with you.  We strongly recommend that you seek independent legal advice about the Costs Agreement before you sign it.