PTSD Compensation Claims

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If you've had an accident on the road, at work, or in a public place in Queensland and developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result, this page will help you understand if you can make a PTSD compensation claim.

We'll explain everything you need to know about your rights to claim PTSD compensation, what post traumatic stress disorder is, common causes, how to make a claim, the time limits for claiming, and some frequently asked questions. 

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

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Understanding Your Rights After Developing PTSD in Queensland

If you've developed post traumatic stress disorder as a result of someone else’s negligence, there are options when it comes to claiming PTSD compensation for your suffering and the financial burden of such trauma, which can often fall upon the families of affected individuals. 

The 2020 Productivity Commission Inquiry on Mental Health estimated mental ill-health costs Australia from $13 billion to $17 billion per year as a result of work absences related to mental health. 

This demonstrates the prevalence and impact of work-related mental illness such as PTSD in Australians, so you’re not alone if you’re suffering as a result of someone else’s negligence, and it’s essential to know your rights when seeking PTSD compensation payouts. 

In Queensland, you have the right to claim through several different compensation schemes: 

  • Car and Road Accidents: The Compulsory Third Party (CTP) claims scheme is established to cover accidents occurring on the road. If someone else's negligent behaviour resulted in your post traumatic stress disorder, this scheme allows you to file a compensation claim.
  • Workplace Accidents: If your PTSD stems from a work-related accident, two primary avenues exist for seeking PTSD compensation payouts. 
  1. Statutory Claims: Regardless of fault, WorkCover Queensland (or your employer's workplace compensation insurer if they are self-insured) offers a statutory scheme to cover your PTSD injury. 
  2. Common Law Claims: If your PTSD has been the result of negligence on your employer’s part, you can claim compensation payouts for PTSD under Common Law.
  • Public Place Accidents: In instances where your post traumatic stress disorder is caused by an accident in a public place, you have the right to lodge a common law claim against the public liability insurer of the area.

It's important to understand your options, as making a claim doesn't necessarily mean you have to go to court. Speaking to a personal injury solicitor can help you understand the process.

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, as it's more commonly called, is a mental health disorder that you might develop after encountering a traumatic event or ordeal. The incident can often involve the threat of injury or death. This is a common mental illness in Australia, with approximately 12 percent of Australians affected by PTSD in their lifetime

Common PTSD symptoms generally fall into four categories:  

  • Reliving the event: Coupled with things that remind you of the incident, nightmares or unwanted memories. 
  • Avoidance: This includes steering clear of places, events or people that trigger memories of the distressing event. 
  • Negative changes in beliefs or mood: You might experience feelings of guilt, shame, ongoing fear, or even a sense of detachment from people you were previously close to. 
  • Hyperarousal: The victim might be easily startled, feel “on edge” or have trouble sleeping.

These symptoms can lead to destructive or unhealthy behaviour, such as substance abuse or aggressive behaviour. 

If you have experienced a traumatic event in your life and continue to struggle with these symptoms, you could be suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. It's vital to seek professional psychiatric help if you're facing these symptoms. Remember, it's okay to seek help, and it's a sign of strength when dealing with this kind of emotional and psychological pain.

Common Causes of PTSD

While PTSD can be caused by various types of traumatic events, in the context of personal injury law, some incidents are seen more frequently than others. There are two types of PTSD; one is the result of a single well-defined event, and the other is complex trauma or primary psychological injury where the victim has been exposed to multiple or ongoing stressful events. Understanding what can cause these can help when seeking PTSD compensation payouts. 

Here are some common causes: 

  • Road Accidents: In Queensland, road accidents account for approximately 25 per cent of all PTSD cases. Even if you didn't suffer any physical injuries, the fact that you could have been injured or died can still lead to PTSD.
  • Workplace Accidents: High-risk industries like construction and mining see frequent accidents that can cause severe trauma. Work-related accidents are responsible for about 15 per cent of PTSD cases in Queensland.
  • Falls in Public Places: A sudden and unexpected fall, especially if it results in a serious injury, can be traumatic enough to cause PTSD.
  • Assault: An unexpected violation of your person, such as physical or sexual assault, where you might even have had items stolen, can be emotionally devastating and leave deep psychological injuries and scars.

If you've experienced any of these traumatic events and think you might be dealing with PTSD, it’s important to remember you're not alone. You should speak to a medical professional as soon as possible.

Workers Most at Risk of PTSD

Some professions are more susceptible to developing psychological injuries such as post traumatic stress disorder due to the inherent risks and potential for traumatic experiences in their line of work. 

Here are some of the most at-risk professions: 

  • Emergency service workers: Police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders are regularly exposed to traumatic events. They often witness scenes of accidents, violence, or crisis, which could potentially lead to PTSD. Rates of the disorder may be more likely among long-term employees than new recruits, as repeated exposure to traumatic events can lead to an increased risk of PTSD. 
  • Military personnel: People in combat zones face an elevated risk of encountering traumatic events. This repeatedly exposes them to conditions that potentially give rise to long-lasting psychological issues.
  • Healthcare professionals: Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals deal with intense and traumatic scenarios as part of their standard working day. This includes life-and-death situations and could contribute to PTSD.
  • Public transport drivers: People driving buses, taxis and other forms of public transport are at risk due to potential accidents and conflicts with passengers.
  • Construction workers: This profession involves high-risk situations, such as working at height or with heavy machinery, where accidents can occur from even the slightest oversight.

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

Understanding the Compensation Claims Process

Before starting the claims process, it's critical to seek advice from a medical professional first. They can diagnose and document your PTSD injury. The following is a simplified guide to help you understand the process of making a PTSD compensation 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 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 An Experienced 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. Smith’s Lawyers runs all claims risk-free with no upfront costs.

3. Gather Evidence To Build Your Case

Once your PTSD 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 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 in leading 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 unsuccessful in court. Smith’s Lawyers No Win, No Fee, No Catch® promise protects you from this risk and means you can 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 charged for the work completed only if there is a successful outcome.

Seek expert advice ASAP: Remember, each case is unique, and the process can vary based on the specifics. It's suggested to seek professional legal advice and have your case reviewed by an expert team to guide you in this journey. Smith's Lawyers are experts in personal injury claims and offer a Queensland-wide service with free initial advice to get you started in your claim process.

What Evidence Do I Need To Support My PTSD Claim?

Gathering comprehensive evidence is crucial when lodging a PTSD compensation claim. Through presenting robust evidence, you'll give yourself the best chance at receiving the proper compensation payouts for PTSD. 

To strengthen your case and speed up the claims process, you should consider collecting the following: 

  • Medical Records: A comprehensive medical history including treatment records, medication list and any diagnostic tests that confirm your PTSD diagnosis.
  • Psychologist or Psychiatrist Reports: Documentation from mental health professionals outlining your symptoms, condition progression and impact on your everyday life.
  • Personal Statement: A detailed account of the event(s) that caused PTSD and how it has affected you – socially, emotionally, physically, financially and professionally.
  • Witness Statements: Statements from family, friends or colleagues who can testify to the changes in your behaviour and lifestyle post-event.
  • Employment Records: If PTSD has affected your ability to work or you’ve lost income due to time off, gather payslips, tax returns and a statement from your employer.

Calculating Your Compensation Amount

The amount of PTSD compensation you could receive for your claim is not a one-size-fits-all calculation. Compensation payouts for PTSD hinge on a variety of factors. 

Things that are generally taken into account are:

  • The severity of your PTSD: The more severe your condition, the more compensation you may be entitled to. This may include aspects such as how badly it's impacting your sleep, relationships and general wellbeing.
  • Work capacity: If your PTSD has negatively affected your ability to work, this will be considered. For instance, if you have to reduce your hours, change jobs or cannot work at all, these factors significantly contribute to your compensation.
  • Medical and therapeutic costs: Medical expenses incurred for diagnosis, treatment, counselling or medication for your PTSD should be included in your compensation claim. Future costs are also considered, so it's crucial to have a detailed prognosis from your healthcare provider.
  • Recovery time: How long it has taken you to get back to some sense of normality will play a factor. This could include things like how long you were off work and if you have any long-term disabilities as a result of the PTSD.
  • Future earnings: If your PTSD has caused you to lose the chance to be promoted or made you change careers, the amount you could have earned plays a factor in a claim.

It’s important to remember each personal injury claim case is different and can lead to different compensation payouts for PTSD based on your individual circumstances. 

Every compensation claim is unique, and it's crucial that your claim accurately reflects your personal experience and the severity of your symptoms, which is why it's important to seek legal advice for PTSD claims as soon as possible.

Time Limits To Make A Claim For PTSD

Queensland has rules in place for how long you have to claim compensation. Generally, a claim must be submitted within three years of the date when the injury occurred. 

However, the state also has some rules for specific circumstances. 

For work-related injuries in Queensland:

  • You have six months to lodge your claim with WorkCover. The six-month period begins whenever the incident takes place, either when you are injured or after a doctor has made their assessment. 
  • You have three years to commence legal proceedings for a common law claim. If your employer or a third party caused or contributed to your injury, this can be run alongside a standard WorkCover claim.

For motor vehicle-related injuries in Queensland:

  • You have 9 months from the date of the motor vehicle 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 9 months but must be within 3 years of the accident, or you will be barred from making a claim. 
  • Or, you have 1 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 (1 month vs 9 months), so if you have spoken to a lawyer about your potential claim, you must lodge the NOAC within 1 month.
  • Where the motor vehicle at fault cannot be identified (such as in a hit and run motor vehicle accident), or the vehicle was unregistered, you have 3 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 3-month period, a reasonable excuse can be provided, but it must be provided within the standard 9-month limit; otherwise, you will be barred from making a claim.
  • After the Notice of Claim Form is lodged, you have 3 years from the date of the motor vehicle accident/injury to start legal proceedings.

These limits can fluctuate based on specific circumstances, such as exceptional delays in discovering the PTSD injury or if the injured party was under 18 at the time of the accident. For those under 18, the time limit begins when they reach adulthood.

At Smith's Lawyers, we offer free and no-obligation case reviews to aid you in understanding your legal rights after a PTSD injury. Operating on a No Win, No Fee, No Catch® basis, we aim to provide risk-free legal assistance and advocate for your right to proper compensation.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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How do I know if my PTSD is serious enough to make a claim?

Understanding if your PTSD injury is severe enough to warrant a claim often starts by evaluating your symptoms and how they influence your daily life. PTSD manifests differently in everyone and impacts lifestyles to varying degrees.

If you're regularly having nightmares or flashbacks of the traumatic event, experiencing severe anxiety, avoiding experiences or have observed a notable shift in your mood or behaviour since the incident, it's quite likely that you're dealing with a case of PTSD severe enough to warrant compensation.      

You should speak to a healthcare professional for a diagnosis. A personal injury lawyer can guide you through the compensation process after that.

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How can PTSD impact the ability to work?

The undeniable impact that PTSD can have on your ability to work is one of the key reasons why compensation can be crucial. Struggling with symptoms of PTSD, such as intense flashbacks, debilitating anxiety, constant irritability, and struggles with concentration, can severely inhibit your day-to-day work performance. 

You might find yourself unable to meet deadlines, struggling with routine tasks or finding interactions with colleagues highly stressful. In some extreme cases, the traumatic event might be so heavily linked to the work environment that merely returning to the same or similar workplace might trigger your symptoms. This may lead to prolonged periods of sick leave or even an inability to return to work at all.

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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 to PTSD 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:
June 24, 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.