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Motor Accident Personal Injury Claims – What is Whole Person Impairment?

It is very important to understand the relationship between one’s whole person impairment and compensation if you have made a motor accident personal injury claim.

Prior to 1 December 2017

If you have made a compulsory third-party claim (CTP Claim) prior to 1 December 2017, it is important that your whole person impairment be assessed once you have reached maximum medical improvement. This usually occurs between 6 to 12 months after your accident. Your whole person impairment will be assessed by a specialist on a medico legal basis. These medico legal specialists will not treat you. They will instead provide a report which one may use for the purposes of legal proceedings.

These medico legal specialists, in determining your whole person impairment, will assess the impairment your accident related injuries have caused you as a percentage of your whole body. Different medico legal specialists assess different injuries in different ways. It is important you discuss these medico legal assessments with your solicitor.

Should you be assessed with a whole person impairment of more than 10%, you may be entitled to compensation for non-economic loss should the insurer concede this finding.

Compensation for non-economic loss is compensation for pain and suffering and can amount to a significant sum on top of compensation for heads of damages which may include past and future economic loss, past and future out-of-pocket expenses and past and future domestic assistance.

In circumstances where the insurer does not concede, a dispute application may be lodged, and an independent medical legal assessor appointed by the medical assessment service will assess your whole person impairment. This assessment, if correct, will be binding on both parties.

If your whole person impairment is assessed as being below the 10% threshold, your compensation claim may be limited to those other heads of damages above mentioned.

After 1 December 2017

Post 1 December 2017, your whole person impairment may only be relevant if it has been determined that you have more than a minor injury as defined by section 1.6 of the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 and clause 4 of the Motor Accident Injuries Amendment Regulation 2017.

If you have more than a minor injury and you have made a damages claim with a whole person impairment of less than 10%, any claim for statutory benefits will continue for up to 3 years only. If you have a whole person impairment of more than 10%, your weekly payment statutory benefits will terminate at retirement age and, after five years, your treatment benefits may be transferred and paid by life time care and support/Icare.

For claimants with a whole person impairment of more than 10%, a claim for damages including non-economic loss can be made and settled at any time. For claimants with a whole person impairment of less than 10%, one must wait for 20 months before claiming damages and a claim for damages cannot be settled within two years.

So, if you have made a personal injury motor accident claim, be sure to speak with a competent solicitor today about your whole person impairment.

By Samantha Curro, Senior Associate
McAuley Hawach Lawyers
Level 7, 9 George Street, Parramatta NSW 2124
Telephone: (02) 9633 1826
Facsimile: (02) 9687 8114

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