Single vehicle accidents—an accident involving no other vehicles—are common and their impacts can be devastating, for you and your loved ones.
The good news is that many single vehicle accident drivers are eligible for benefits, even where you believe the accident may have been your own ‘fault’.
In this article, we explore how drivers can access much-needed compensation and support to help get their lives back on track after an accident.
What is the impact of single vehicle accidents?
Unfortunately the number of motor vehicle accidents on Australian roads—from minor bingles to major crashes—has been increasing. It’s grown from more than 18 per cent of Australian motorists saying they’d been involved in at least one accident in 2008, to 19 per cent of motorists by 2013 - with more than three million accidents occurring on Australian roads during this time.1
In Victoria alone, there were almost 8,000 accidents resulting in hospitalisation in 2017 alone.
This number includes many single vehicle accidents. Whether it’s drivers who may have lost control in wet conditions, who’ve hit objects such as a tree, or swerved to avoid an obstacle, these can all have considerable impacts. Other common causes include:
- hitting animals such as kangaroos or livestock
- losing control on slippery, unsealed or unfamiliar roads
- driver fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel
- badly maintained roads.
The impacts can be devastating—on the person involved, on their family and on the wider community.
Sadly, we regularly see clients who’ve become physically injured or seriously disabled as a result of single vehicle accidents. They often need expensive health and medical treatment, extended time off work, and the stress of all this can be overwhelming. In some circumstances, sadly lives are lost.
Who is eligible for compensation?
If you’ve been in a single-vehicle accident, you might think you’re not eligible for support because no one was at fault. Many drivers also believe that if their accident was a result of driver error, they can’t seek compensation.
That’s simply not the case. Every day, my team helps drivers involved in single vehicle accidents get the benefits they’re entitled to so they can focus on getting better.
Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory all have what’s known as ‘no-fault’ schemes, through which you may be able to claim from if you’ve been in single vehicle accident.
If you live in a state that doesn’t have a no-fault scheme (such as Western Australia or South Australia), but your accident happened in a state that does, you might still be able to make a claim.
In Victoria, where I’ve worked with clients involved in accidents for the past 10 years, the no-fault scheme is run by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). This scheme helps to cover costs and support for:
- medical expenses like your hospital expenses, physiotherapy, plastic surgery, psychology and home help
- the loss of your wages, usually for up to three years after your accident unless you have suffered a very significant injury, at 80 per cent of your pre-accident weekly earnings
- an impairment benefit which is a lump sum payment.
These entitlements vary from state to state, so it’s important you get help from an experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer who can help you understand and access the compensation support you need.
I’ve been in an accident. What should I do?
Get medical help
It’s important to seek medical help as soon as possible. Even if you don’t believe you’ve been badly injured, visit your doctor for peace of mind. It can often take months before the full extent of an injury becomes obvious and the first step is to ensure the details of your accident are on your medical record so you can start getting treatment as early as possible.
Report your claim and check your rights
Alongside seeking medical help, you should report your accident to the police. You also need to lodge a claim with your state’s compensation scheme and find out what you may be entitled to. Time limits apply for making a claim—in most states you have to lodge within 12 months of your accident, so it’s important to do this as soon as possible.
Getting the right advice is crucial
In the aftermath of an accident when you’re dealing with pain, stress and injury, thinking about your legal rights is often far from your mind. The claims system can be complex and overwhelming. So enlisting support from the right lawyer can help you get what you’re fully entitled to.
Sometimes, people believe they don’t deserve to receive compensation for their injuries. This was the case for a badly injured client of mine who was in a single vehicle accident in 2016, but was reluctant to lodge a claim—the collision was due to his own error, so he didn’t feel entitled to compensation or support. However as a result of the accident he had significant medical expenses and a reduced capacity for work.
My team and I worked hard to convince him of his right to lodge a claim, then ensured his medical expenses were covered and secured him an impairment benefit of more than $24,000.
Even if their crash occurred because of driver error, I always remind my clients that they pay their annual vehicle registration for this very reason—so that they can be supported if an accident occurs. The benefits are there to help them through difficult times. It’s important to investigate your rights, and to get the support you are entitled to.
We’re here to help
It’s so important to know that if you’ve been in accident, you don’t need to do it alone. We have motor vehicle accident teams in every state in which Slater and Gordon operates, ready to guide you through the claims process and help you get the right support for your needs.
I’m proud to work for a firm that believes everyone should have access to expert legal advice. That’s why we provide a free initial consultation** for all motor vehicle accident cases, alongside our No Win, No Fee* commitment. We also provide free social work support to clients upon referral from a lawyer should they need it.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a motor vehicle accident and would like some advice, get in touch online or call us on 1800 555 777.
*No Win No Fee conditions: please visit this link
**Free Initial Appointment conditions: please visit this link
1 - Source: Roy Morgan Press Release, September 13 2013. Available from: http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/5185-traffic-accidents-increasing-australian-roads-201309130049