Car accidents are stressful and difficult at the best of times. And if you’re injured in one, which happens more often than not, you might be even more confused.

The latest available data shows there were 39,404 people in Australia admitted to hospital with road crash injures in the 2017/18 period. And in January this year alone, there were sadly 98 road deaths recorded on our roads. Read more about the reality of Australia's road toll here.

It’s important to know what to do immediately after an accident, what your legal rights are, and who you sue for injury after a road accident.

At the scene

Immediately after an accident, the priority should be to ensure the safety of everyone involved. This could be by seeking medical attention or moving to an area away from the road to exchange details.

You should:

  1. Check for injuries and seek medical attention by calling 000
  2. Reduce the risks of a further accident by moving to a safer area
  3. Report the accident to the police
  4. Gather and exchange information with the other party, including name, address, registration information and phone number or email
  5. Get the details of witnesses
  6. Take photos if you’re able to

This information may help you if you need to make a Compulsory Third Party (CTP) claim in the future.

After the accident

Taking time to rehabilitate after an accident is important, but you’ll want to report it to your CTP insurer as soon as you are able to.

You should:

  1. Notify your insurer and lodge a claim for property damage
  2. Report the accident to the police again – they might have not attended the scene at the time
  3. See a doctor and monitor any injuries
  4. If injured, make a claim through CTP, or seek expert legal advice within nine months of the accident

What is a CTP claim?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and you weren’t at fault, you should be able to make a motor vehicle accident claim through Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance.

In Queensland, every registered vehicle has CTP insurance – it’s a mandatory component of your car registration fee. CTP insurance protects you if you are injured as a result of a car accident that was either fully or partially not your fault.

When you make a CTP insurance claim, you are lodging it against the “at-fault party”, which is generally the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident. Anyone can make a CTP claim: passengers, pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists, truck drivers or witnesses.  

As an insurance claim, this means that the individual themselves will not be out of pocket – the CTP insurer pays for any losses. You can even make a CTP claim when the other driver cannot be identified, such as a hit and run.

Can I make a CTP claim myself?

You can do this yourself, but you should note that it can be a tedious, confusing, and long process. Your CTP insurer will have steps on how you can make a claim.

If you’re deemed eligible for a compensation claim, you’re likely to be entitled to a range of benefits including:

  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses
  • Damages for pain and suffering
  • Domestic assistance expenses
  • Travel expenses, like taxi fares
  • Lump sum payments for permanent impairment

On the point of lost wages, however, CTP won’t pay weekly benefits – any lost income is paid as part of the lump sum settlement at the end of a compensation claim.

Your insurer also might not automatically offer to pay you all your compensation entitlements or might “cheap out”. But you must submit the claim with your CTP insurer before you can take any legal action. Note that strict time limits apply.

When engaging a lawyer, this is when it’s important to have taken the exact steps at the scene and after the scene, because you’ll need to have reported the incident and have a medical certificate detailing your injuries. A lawyer will help you with the necessary paperwork if it hasn’t been completed.

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