Time limits for Car Accidents
What are the time limits for seeking compensation for an injury sustained in Queensland?
Picture this. Your car has been rear-ended. The impact causes your body to jolt unexpectedly. It is not until later that evening when you are trying to sleep that you realise your neck and shoulder are really sore and stiff. You wake up in the morning in a fair amount of pain. Your GP tells you that you have some whiplash and suggests you rest for a couple of days. Eventually when you return to work, you find it difficult to perform your duties because of your pain and take some days off work here and there.
You are now worried that the pain might never go away and that you might end up losing your job because of your injuries. A friend has told you to put in a claim through the Compulsory Third Party Scheme (“CTP”), but surely you have plenty of time to do this. WRONG!
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident that is not your fault, you may be able to commence a claim against the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurer of the “at-fault vehicle” to recover compensation.
A claim under the CTP scheme is designed to compensate you for the effects of your injury on your life. Typically, you might be able to claim compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, income loss (including the future), out of pocket expenses and future expenses that may be incurred in treating your injury.
You commence your claim by lodging a Notice of Accident Claim Form (“NOAC”).
The time limit for lodging such a claim depends on whether the “at-fault” vehicle can be identified or not. There is a shorter time limit in circumstances where the “at-fault” vehicle cannot be properly identified (eg. hit and run) as summarised below.
If the “at-fault” motor vehicle can be identified, within 9 months of accident (or 1 month after speaking to a solicitor), whichever occurs first, lodge Notice of Accident Claim form with CTP Insurer of “at-fault” vehicle. If you are outside either of these time limits then you must provide the CTP insurer with a reasonable excuse for the delay when you lodge the claim form.
If the “at-fault” motor vehicle cannot be properly identified (eg. hit and run), within 3 months of accident (or 1 month of speaking with a lawyer), whichever occurs first, but no later than 9 months of the accident, lodge Notice of Accident Claim form with Nominal Defendant, otherwise you will lose your entitlement to claim altogether. If you are outside the 3 month time limit then when you lodge the claim form you must provide the Nominal Defendant with a reasonable excuse for the delay.
Within 3 years of date of injury, commence court proceedings (eg. if the claim has not resolved informally with the CTP insurer) or alternatively, seek written extension from CTP insurer to extend the 3 year limitation period, otherwise you will lose your entitlement to recover damages for your injuries altogether.
There are some exceptions to the above limitation periods in the cases of persons who are under the age of 18 years or under a legal disability.
What should I do if my limitation date will expire soon or I’m not sure when the relevant time limits commenced?
If you think you may be approaching one of the above limitation dates or are unsure as to when the above time limits may have commenced in your case, you should immediately contact a lawyer.