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March 17, 2020

Public Liability Claims and the Civil Liability Act

Motor Vehicle Accidents and Property Damage

Persons in Western Australia injured in a motor vehicle accident, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists may be able to recover compensation known as “damages” in circumstances where their injury was caused, or contributed to, by the negligent driving of a motor vehicle by a third party.

Most fault based motor vehicle accident claims made against drivers involving Western Australian licensed vehicles are managed and funded by the Insurance Commission of Western Australia (“ICWA”). These claims are known as damages or common law claims.

Persons who suffer catastrophic injuries in Western Australia as a result of a motor vehicle accident can, in prescribed circumstances, recover compensation under the Motor Vehicle (Catastrophic Injuries) Act 2016 notwithstanding the absence of any fault or wrongdoing by another driver or third party.

The dependents of a person killed as a result of a motor vehicle accident may also have a claim for loss of dependency under the Fatal Accidents Act 1959provided the death was wholly or partly attributable to the negligence of a third party.

Persons who suffer nervous shock or psychiatric injury in connection with witnessing a fatal motor vehicle accident or losing a loved one in a fatal motor vehicle accident may in some circumstances also be able to recover damages for their own mental injury.

Damages may still be recoverable even if the motor vehicle or negligent  driver involved in an accident cannot be identified or the vehicle is unregistered.

A person injured by the fault or wrongdoing of a third party can recover compensation, known as “damages”, for various losses and damage including:

  • Pain & suffering;
  • Loss of  income and earning capacity;
  • Loss of superannuation;
  • The costs of treatment and rehabilitation including hospital, medical & physical therapy costs and ambulance expenses;
  • The cost of assistance (both paid and voluntary) with personal care and also domestic  and home maintenance tasks;
  • The costs of home and transport modifications; and
  • Aids and equipment such as shower chairs and wheelchairs.

Dependants of a person killed as a result of a motor vehicle accident may be able to claim for:

  • Loss of financial benefits and non-financial services provided by the deceased; and
  • Funeral & headstone expenses.

Although an award of damages involves a claimant being paid a once off lump sum amount to compensate the injured claimant for various past and future losses, if the ICWA admit liability for a fault based injury claim covered under the Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act 1943, the ICWA will usually agree to pay for claim related treatment expenses as they are incurred and, in some circumstances, the ICWA may make advance payments to the injured claimant for past losses of income.

There are occasions where the ICWA will only offer to admit partial liability for a claim on the alleged basis that a claimant’s own negligent conduct has contributed to the occurrence of his or her own injuries. Examples of conduct that may support a finding of contributory negligence include:

  • Intoxication;
  • Speeding; and
  • Failure to wear a seat belt.

A finding of contributory negligent reduces the amount of damages that a claimant can recover by a ratio that is commensurate with the agreed or assessed level of contributory negligence. By way of an example, a claimant who is 30% contributory negligent can only recover 70% of the value of his or her damages.

There are also occasions where the ICWA will deny all liability for a claim or deny that a claim is subject to coverage under the Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act 1943.

D.G. Price & Co. has a wealth of experience in settling and litigating motor vehicle accident claims. Many claims can be resolved without the need to embark on litigation and we offer a free initial no obligation half hour consultation.

We understand the importance of obtaining evidence to substantiate alleged losses and we take pride in paying attention to the detail. Although the vast majority of claims are settled by agreement, including litigated claims, we consider it important that any decision made by a client to resolve a claim is a properly informed decision.

David Price is a highly experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer who has over 25 years of experience representing claimants through motor vehicle accident claim proceedings. If you want advice on how to proceed contact D.G. Price & Co.