Passenger Injury Compensation

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It's not what we expect when we're in the car with someone, but accidents can happen. If you've been a passenger who's suffered an injury, you could be entitled to compensation.

On this page, we'll give you a general guide about your rights to compensation, common causes and types of passenger injuries, how to lodge a claim, time limits for claiming in Queensland and some frequently asked questions. 

Smith's Lawyers team of personal injury claim experts offer free initial advice and no-obligation appointments at home, in hospital, in-office or via phone. We operate Queensland-wide and all claims have no upfront costs or risks of being left out of pocket under our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise.

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Understanding Your Rights after a Passenger Injury in Queensland

If you've suffered a passenger injury in Queensland due to someone else's negligence, it's important to know you have rights to compensation. In 2022/23, Almost 70 percent of settled claims in Queensland included medical costs. Serious injuries are often costly to treat, with the financial burden typically falling on the family of the injured person. Claiming compensation may ease this burden while you recover from your injury. 

Queensland's compensation schemes are as follows: 

  • Car and road accidents: The Compulsory Third Party (CTP) Claims Scheme is designed specifically for victims of motor accidents. Whether you're a driver, a cyclist, a pedestrian or a passenger, if you were hurt and it wasn't your fault, this scheme may help you receive compensation for your injuries.
  • Work accidents: If you were a passenger while working, you might have the right to compensation through Statutory Claims via WorkCover Queensland, regardless of who is at fault. If your employer was negligent, you can still make a common law claim.
What is a Passenger Injury?

A passenger injury refers to any form of harm or damage inflicted on an individual travelling as a passenger in a vehicle, at the workplace, or in a public place. This injury can stem from various occurrences like a motor vehicle accident or an incident in public transportation. 

For instance, in Queensland, road traffic accidents are the leading cause of injury requiring hospitalisation - making up 40 per cent of all incidents. Injuries resulting from accidents such as this can range from minor cuts to and bruises fatal injuries such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, or life-threatening internal damage.

Common Causes of Passenger Injuries

In Queensland, road accidents accounted for approximately 25 percent of serious injury claims in 2019. Although car accidents in personal vehicles are among the most common, there are several other ways you could get injured.

These may include:

  • Accidents at work: You may be a passenger in a work vehicle, which, if an accident occurs, you can claim compensation for.
  • Public transport accidents: Incidents associated with buses, trams or ferries occur regularly, with injuries ranging from minor to severe.
  • Inadequate vehicle maintenance: Brake failure, tyre explosions or other car-part malfunctions can lead to serious passenger injuries.
  • Inadequate road conditions: Poor road design, a lack of signage or lack of maintenance can all contribute to road accidents and subsequent passenger injury.
Common Types of Passenger Injuries

Whilst some types of injuries might heal on their own, others could leave you needing surgery or profoundly change your life. 

Some of the most common types of these injuries include:  

  • Whiplash: Common in motor vehicle accidents, this can occur when the head is jolted violently backwards and then forward. Whiplash can cause severe neck pain, stiffness and headaches.
  • Concussions: A result of a heavy fall or impact to the head. Symptoms often include confusion, dizziness and memory issues.
  • Broken bones: Fractures are the most common transport injury resulting in hospitalisation and frequently occur in high-impact incidents, such as car accidents. It's typically the arms, wrists and legs that are most at risk - especially when sitting in the front passenger seat.
  • Spinal cord injuries: In the most severe accidents, damage to the vertebral column can lead to long-term complications, including paralysis.
  • Burns: If the vehicle you're in catches fire, you could be left with anything from minor first-degree burns to severe third-degree ones.
  • Lacerations: Sharp objects or fragments from an accident can cause deep cuts or wounds. In severe cases, these could be life-threatening with significant blood loss and long-term scarring.

If you've suffered any of these injuries or any others as a passenger, you have the right to seek legal advice and potentially claim compensation. Smith’s Lawyers offers a no-obligation, free case review if you want to learn more.

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers.

Understanding The Compensation Claims Process

The personal injury claims process can be a lot to take in. Here, We'll try to break down the general steps involved when seeking compensation for an injury in Queensland. 

Speak to a medical professional first. It's important you get your injuries diagnosed and treated. This will also provide the initial proof to help substantiate your claim. 

Here is an overview of the process: 

If you've been injured while a passenger in a car or motor vehicle including pillion rider on a motorcycle, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Here are the usual steps for a claim. 

1. Seek free initial legal advice

The first step is to get in touch with a law firm that specialises in compensation claims for motor vehicle accident injuries. Such a firm will have the necessary expertise and understanding of the complexities of Queensland law and can confirm your legal options including eligibility to make a claim.

2. Engage a personal injury lawyer

After an initial phone assessment, the next stage is a no-obligation consultation to explain the process and client agreement in more detail and to gather initial key information relating to your accident and injury to help assess your case and your injury and identify the liable party. The client agreement will also be explained so you can understand the terms under which the personal injury law operates on. Smith’s Lawyers runs all claims risk-free with no upfront costs.

3. Gather evidence to build your case

Once your compensation matter is opened you will be allocated a personal injury lawyer who will start gathering the required evidence to build a strong case and to determine liability. This may include medical reports, accident reports, witness statements, CCTV or dashcam footage or documentation of any loss of earnings due to your injury. Further down the track when your injuries have settled, your law firm may arrange for independent medical assessments such as occupational therapy assessment to assess your ability to work, long term recovery prospects, any permanent impairment and so on.

4. File your claim

Your personal injury solicitor will lodge a notice of claim and negotiate on your behalf with the liable parties, typically with their insurance companies (or their legal representatives) such as the CTP insurer of the at-fault party for car and road accidents or WorkCover Qld for workplace accidents. 

5. Negotiate with the at-fault party's insurer

Negotiations with the insurance company aim to reach a fair settlement that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Most cases are settled out of court in a compulsory conference, an office based meeting involving yourself, your personal injury solicitor and a barrister they have engaged to lead the negotiations along with the legal representatives of the at-fault party's insurer. 

In the unlikely event that a settlement cannot be negotiated out of court, proceedings can proceed to court. In most ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, you could be liable for the other side's legal costs if your case is not successful in court. Smith’s Lawyers No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise protects you from this risk and means you cannot not be out of pocket.

6. Settlement payment

If your claim is successful, you will receive a lump-sum tax free compensation settlement. The amount received will depend on different factors, including the severity of your injury, any impact on your earning capacity, and any medical expenses incurred. Legal fees are only charged by your lawyer if the claim is successful.

Remember, your claim may involve more steps than this. It could also involve different factors based on what happens, for instance, if the negligent party refuses to accept liability. 

Speaking to a legal professional will help you better understand how personal injury compensation works. You can get free initial advice from Smith's Lawyers' expert team of personal injury lawyers to better understand your options.

What Evidence Do I Need To Support My Compensation Claim?

Gathering sufficient evidence is a crucial aspect of making a successful passenger injury compensation claim. Applicable to incidents on the road, at work, or in a public place, your ability to present a clear and convincing case contributes to the potential success of your compensation claim.

Let's break down what evidence you might need to equip yourself with:

  • Medical Records: Displaying the extent of the injuries you've suffered and the treatments you've undergone is necessary. Ensure to keep a documented record of all your doctor's visits, diagnostic tests, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation efforts.
  • Photographs: If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, your immediate injuries, and damages to any property involved. Photographic evidence can enhance the credibility of your narrative.
  • Witness Statements: Any bystanders who saw the accident occur, including the drivers involved, can provide valuable corroborative evidence. Their testimony can substantiate your claims and provide an impartial perspective on the incident.
  • Police Reports: In case of road or work accidents, police reports and incident records provide critical third-party confirmation of the events.
  • Account of events: Write down your own account of the accident while it's still fresh in your memory. Include every detail you can recall, as minor details can sometimes have significant implications.

Calculating Your Compensation Amount

Several factors can determine how much compensation you might get from a successful claim. 

These may include: 

  • The severity of the injury: Including where your injury ranks on the whole person impairment (WPI) scale, or how much permanent impairment was caused by the injury. This will take into account your level of pain and suffering, any loss of enjoyment, for instance in playing sports, and any permanent disability or disfigurement. 
  • Income loss: If your injury has resulted in time off work or reduced your ability to work in the future, these financial losses will be considered. This can include both present income loss and estimated future earnings.
  • Medical expenses: All costs associated with your injury, such as costs for ongoing medical treatment, physiotherapy or medications will be taken into account. 
  • Scope of care: If your injury results in you needing help with daily activities or personal care, these costs can be factored into your compensation.

Just because you have suffered the same injuries as someone else, doesn't mean your compensation payouts will be identical. 

For instance, two passengers who both suffer extensive hand injuries from a car accident might get very different compensation settlements. If passenger A is a young software developer completely reliant on their hands for work, they might receive more than passenger B, a retiree. This is due to loss of earnings and career impact, compared to someone whose livelihood isn't affected.  

To ensure you get the compensation you deserve, it's important you speak to a personal injury expert who can advise you of your options. Learn more about how are personal injury compensation claims calculated.

Time Limits for Passenger Injuries

The best starting point to work with is that a claim in Queensland must be submitted within three years of the date when the injury occurred. 

However, there are a few specific circumstances where the process is different. Below are some of the ways that the time limit could vary. 

For motor vehicle accident claims, in Queensland you have:

  • Nine months from the date of the accident or when injuries first became apparent to lodge a Notice of Accident Claim Form (known as a 'NOAC') with the Compulsory Third Party Insurer (CTP Insurer). A “reasonable excuse for delay” can be provided outside the nine months, but must be within three years of the accident or you will be barred from making a claim. 
  • Or, you have one month from when you first consult with a lawyer about the possibility of making a claim to lodge the form. When running a claim with Smith’s Lawyers, your appointed solicitor will help you complete and submit this form.  Note: This time limit is the earlier of the two (one month vs nine months), so if you have spoken to a lawyer about your potential claim, you must lodge the NOAC within one month.
  • Where the motor vehicle at fault cannot be identified (such as in a hit and run) or the vehicle was unregistered, you have three months from the date of the accident to lodge a Notice of Accident Claim form with the Nominal Defendant. For these claims, if you have missed the three-month period, a reasonable excuse can be provided, but it must be provided within the standard nine-month limit otherwise you will be barred from making a claim
  • After the Notice of Claim Form is lodged, you have three years from the date of the accident/injury to start legal proceedings.

For injuries in a public place, the time frames are similar to motor-vehicle claims (nine months from the date of the accident or one month from when you contact a lawyer). However, instead of submitting a Notice of Accident Claim Form, you lodge a PIPA Notice of Claim with the negligent party. Your legal team can help with understanding this form.

For work-related injuries, in Queensland you have:

  • Six months from when the entitlement to compensation arises (this is usually when the injury occurs or the day on which the individual is assessed by a doctor) to lodge a claim with WorkCover Queensland (or your employer's workers compensation insurer if self-insured). This is an essential first step for all cases regardless of fault.
  • Three years from the date of the accident/injury to start court proceedings for a common law claim. These claims can be run in addition to a standard WorkCover claim where the negligence of your employer or another party caused or contributed to your accident and injuries.

It's also worth noting there are exceptions. For instance, for victims under 18, this three-year period doesn't start until their 18th birthday. 

These time frames might seem like a lot of time, but setting your claim into motion can be a complex process with many legal requirements to navigate. 

At Smith’s Lawyers, our team can help you understand these time limits and ensure you don't miss your chance for a claim. We offer Queensland-wide service with free and no-obligation case reviews. Our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise means you have nothing to lose in seeking your rightful compensation.

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers.

Frequently Asked Questions

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If the driver of the car was uninsured can I still claim?

Even if the driver was uninsured, you may still have options for compensation. You may be able to claim against the other driver involved in the accident or seek compensation from the Queensland Motor Accident Insurance Commission (QMAIC) in certain situations. Remember, consulting a lawyer specialising in car and road accidents is crucial to understanding your specific rights and exploring all potential avenues for compensation.

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How long do passenger injury claims take to settle?

If you've sustained an injury as a passenger in Queensland, it's important to understand the timeline for pursuing a compensation claim. On average, these claims typically take between 12 to 18 months to settle. This time frame encompasses understanding the severity of your injuries, assessing your case, negotiating with insurers and, if necessary, pursuing the matter in court.

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Are there any upfront costs or risks?

No, our No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise at Smith’s Lawyers means there are no upfront costs and you can never be left out of pocket as a result of the claim. Typically with ‘no win, no fee’ agreements, you could still be liable for the other side's legal costs if your case goes to court and is unsuccessful. In the unlikely event that your case goes to court, and you are unsuccessful, we'll cover the costs - so you won't pay a cent to us or anyone else.  

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Get expert advice today

To check your compensation entitlements, request a free case review with our expert lawyers. We can explain your options Elbow Injury Compensation claims so you are clear on your rights during this difficult time.

Take our 2-minute free claim check

Fill in the form below to find out if you have a claim.

Last updated:
July 2, 2024

Disclaimer: This information is designed for general information in relation to Queensland compensation law. It does not constitute legal advice. We strongly recommend you seek legal advice in regards to your specific situation. For help understanding your rights, please call 1800 960 482 or request a free case review to talk to one of our lawyers today.