If you have suffered whiplash (or a neck injury) in a transport accident you may be wondering how to claim compensation for the injury.
This page will outline how you can do so.
Step 1: lodge a TAC claim
This page goes into detail as to how to lodge a TAC claim.
It would also assist for you to understand the TAC claim process.
There are a few ways that you can lodge a claim.
You can call the TAC, use the TAC’s online form or if you were hospitalised after an accident the hospital may have lodged a claim on your behalf.
In addition to your neck injury, you should ensure to list any other injuries that you may have suffered.
Whether those injuries be physical or psychological.
This page details the TAC initial claim process and what happens if your claim is accepted and what happens if your claim is rejected.
A couple of points worth noting when it comes to lodging a claim:
Fault is, for the most part, not relevant. Someone else does not need to be at fault for the neck injury in order for you to claim.
The severity of the neck injury is not relevant as to how likely your TAC claim is to be accepted.
Step 2: claim medical expenses and income payments
Assuming your TAC claim gets accepted, which most claims that get lodged will, the TAC will be responsible for paying the reasonable medical and like costs related to the treatment of your neck injury and any other injuries suffered.
So if you require GP attendances, medication, physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment, or specialist attendances and potential surgery, the TAC should in most cases be responsible for the payment of these expenses.
We would encourage you to read this page which goes into detail about medical and like expenses and how to claim them.
If your neck injury impacts your ability to work then you may be entitled to the payment of income payments for up to 3 years post accident.
In some cases people can obtain payments beyond three years if they are assessed as having a 50% or greater whole person impairment rating.
However, you should be aware that in most cases, if you have suffered a neck injury and no other injuries, it will be unlikely that you’ll this 50% threshold.
However, it is possible to meet the threshold if the neck injury is combined with other injuries or conditions that were suffered in the accident.
Step 3: You may also wish to pursue an impairment benefit lump sum claim
You can read about these claims here.
Your neck injury would need to be assessed by an appropriate specialist.
In most cases it this would be an orthopaedic surgeon but could also be a general surgeon.
If you have a lawyer then your lawyer will generally organise this assessment for you. They will usually engage a doctor that they’ve used before.
If you do not have a lawyer TAC will send you correspondence regarding the lodgement of an impairment claim and if you want to proceed with one and you are not represented by a lawyer then you can let the TAC know and they will organise a medical assessment for you. They will select the doctor that assesses you.
Any other injuries that you suffered, in addition to your neck injury should also be assessed when pursuing an impairment claim.
These assessments are called impairment assessments.
Once your whole person impairment rating has been determined, this will match up to a corresponding compensation amount.
Injuries are assessed in accordance with the American Medical Association guides to permanent impairment.
This is a book that doctors and lawyers use to assess and grade injuries in compensation matters.
When it comes to neck injuries, most typically they’ll be assessed in the range of 5-15%. In some cases involving significant neck injury, the assessment can exceed 15%.
Step 4: You may also wish to pursue a common law lump sum claim
You can read about these here.
In order to succeed in a common law claim following your neck injury you’ll need to show that your neck injury is a serious injury and also that another party that contributed to your neck injury.
You can read about the serious injury aspect here.
In terms of claiming compensation under common law claim, you should have a lawyer represent you if you wish to pursue this claim, given how complex and involved these can be.
The first step to initiate a common law claim is for a serious injury application to be prepared and lodged.
This is an application that includes an affidavit (a document that tells your story), the TAC serious injury claim form, medical material in support both from the doctors and other health practitioners that have treated you and potentially from any medical-legal doctors that have assessed you, and any other material that may be of assistance.
The TAC then determine whether to accept or reject your neck injury as a serious injury.
If they accept that you have a serious injury to your neck then the matter will proceed to a settlement conference involving your representatives and the TAC’s representatives.
If they determine that you do not have a serious injury as a consequence of the accident then you’ll need to go before a Judge to determine whether your neck injury is a serious injury or not.
If you succeed in obtaining a serious injury certificate and there is negligence on behalf of another party which contributed to your neck injury, then you’re entitled to be compensated for pain and suffering and potentially loss of earnings.
Step 5: consider other options
In addition to pursuing a TAC claim and accessing the entitlements referred to above, if your ability to work has been impacted by your neck injury you may also be entitled to claim income protection or a total and permanent disability (TPD) lump sum.
These are benefits sometimes available to people via their superannuation.
In some cases, people may have stand alone insurance policies, separate to their superannuation for these things.
If you are not sure whether you have income protection or TPD coverage, you should contact your super fund. To initiate a claim you ask the fund to send you the relevant claim documentation – complete that and return it.
You’ll require medical material in support confirming your incapacity for work.
In relation to what you’ll be paid either by way of an income protection claim or TPD claim, this depends on your policy. It is not connected to how much you have in your superannuation account in terms of contributions.
If you have suffered a whiplash type injury or a neck injury in a transport accident, you can claim compensation for that injury by lodging a TAC claim
Once the claim has been accepted you’ll be entitled to the payment of medical and like expenses, potentially income payments.
You may also potentially be entitled to an impairment lump sum claim and a common law claim.
To initiate an impairment lump sum claim following a neck injury you’ll need to have that injury (and any other injuries suffered in the accident) medically assessed by appropriate specialists.
To initiate a common law claim following a neck injury, you’ll need to prepare and lodge a serious injury application.
Finally, you may also want to consider income protection benefits and/or pursuing a total and permanent disability claim if you are not able to work.