If you have been injured in a car accident after 1 December 2017 then you will probably know about the State Government’s ‘minor injury’ test. This is a gateway through which you have to pass in order to receive income support benefits more than 26 weeks after the accident and a hurdle over which you must leap to obtain common law lump sum compensation.

If you have passed the ‘minor injury’ test and the insurer has decided you have a ‘non-minor injury’, your statutory treatment and care benefits will continue for life and your income support benefits will continue for up to five years. You can claim compensation for non-economic and economic losses subject to certain limits and restrictions.

If you do not pass the ‘minor injury’ test and the insurer has decided you have minor injuries only then your income support payments will stop six months after the motor accident. You may be entitled to claim continuing treatment and care benefits if that treatment and care is helping you to recover from your injuries and return to work or return to activities of daily living.

Minister Dominello always promised he would review the concept of a minor injury and he has lived up to his word. Last week the report (undated and with no details as to who wrote it) was published on the SIRA website.

The report considered: data from 4,768 minor injury claims made by innocent motorists, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists; interviews conducted with 61 injured persons and submissions from 21 persons and entities. Some of the highlights of the report include:

  • Good news – 75% of treatment and care claims end within 26 weeks of the date of the accident;
  • Bad news – 25% of people with minor injuries need treatment care after those first 26 weeks with limited access to that treatment and care
  • Good news – 76% of claimants seeking income support benefits return to work within 26 weeks
  • Bad news – 24% of ‘earners’ seeking income support from the CTP scheme have not returned to work within 26 weeks with no access to that support

If you receive a minor injury decision from the insurer then you might want to challenge that decision. To do that you need to lodge an application for internal review which requires someone else in the insurer to have another look at your injuries and decide whether you have a minor injury or non-minor injury. After that, if you still do not agree, you can refer your dispute to the Government’s own Dispute Resolution Service (DRS).

In terms of dispute resolution, the SIRA report records that:

  • 1,400 people injured in a car accident weren’t happy with the insurer’s decision and asked for an internal review.
  • It is not clear what the outcome of all of those were but … 898 disputes have been lodged with DRS about minor injury decisions.
  • Only 52% of those disputes have been determined with 432 injured people waiting for a decision.
  • 260 injured people (or 29%) had their minor injury decision overturned and their statutory income support and treatment and care benefits restored. It is not clear from the report how long they had to wait from the time they got their original decision to the time the DRS determined the matter.

SIRA accepts that the definition of ‘minor injury’ has an image problem with some people concerned at the message it sends. SIRA also acknowledges that more monitoring needs to be done, that data submitted by insurers needs to be improved and psychological injuries emerge later in the life of a claim.

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident with a ‘minor’ or non-minor injury and you want expert advice, you may be entitled to compensation. To arrange a free, no obligation assessment of your claim, please call Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800, or make an online enquiry.

Written by Karina Goodall.

Karina Goodall is a Practice Group Leader at Stacks Goudkamp specialising in motor vehicle claims, superannuation and TPD claims.