In which court will my personal injury case be heard?
Persons who have been injured in an accident often want to know in which case their claim will be determined. One important point to mention at the outset is that it is relatively unusual for a claim to be decided at a court hearing. The vast majority of cases are settled. Usually, it is unnecessary even to start court proceedings. Some types of cases, even if they do not settle, are usually diverted to an alternative resolution dispute process, especially claims arising from motor vehicle accidents, which are usually fed into an administrative system known as CARS.
If litigation is required in order to determine a dispute, the case will be allocated to a court depending on the type of case and its value. When motor vehicle cases go to court, which rarely occurs, they are almost always decided by the District Court, regardless of the value of the claim. Usually, however, it is the value of the case that determines the court to which it will be allocated. Higher value cases (greater than $750,000) are heard by the Supreme Court, with lower value cases (less than $750,000) being decided by the District Court. Very few personal injury cases are decided by the courts that are positioned lower in the judicial hierarchy than the District Court.
By and large, there is relatively little difference between a hearing in the Supreme Court and a hearing in the District Court, at least in the case of New South Wales. The process is effectively the same in both courts, mainly as a result of changes that were made in the not too distant past to ensure substantial procedural uniformity across the different courts in New South Wales.
If either party is dissatisfied with a judgment, they may wish to appeal. Appeals are heard by the Court of Appeal in the relevant jurisdiction. Permission to appeal is required in order to appeal. Permission will be granted only if the proposed appeal has good prospects of success. Very rarely, a second appeal will be possible, which would involve the case going to the High Court, which is Australia’s ultimate appellate court. One cannot appeal to the High Court without permission. The High Court will only give permission to appeal if the case raises a point of general public importance and if the appeal has good prospects of success.
If you have been injured in an accident and you are unsure whether you have rights to compensation, contact Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800 for a free, no obligation assessment of your claim from one of our friendly compensation experts, or make an online enquiry.
Written by Dr James Goudkamp.
James Goudkamp is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Oxford. He is the author of numerous books about personal injury compensation. James also practices as a barrister in London and assists Tom Goudkamp and his team with personal injury claims with a European connection.