Witnessing a traumatic car accident or being a close family member of a victim involved in a car accident, even if they did not witness the accident or death, can be a very traumatic experience, particularly if it involves a fatality, and can cause psychiatric injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression or anxiety.

In both these situations, it is possible for a person to make a “nervous shock” claim and seek compensation for their injury, loss and damage.  

Who is a close family member? 

A close family member means:

a) A parent of the victim or other person with parental responsibility for the victim; or

b) The spouse or partner of the victim (including husband and wife or de facto partner); or

c) A child or stepchild of the victim or any other person for whom the victim has parental responsibility; or

d) A brother, sister, half-brother or half-sister, or stepbrother or stepsister of the victim.

Where a close family member of a victim (who meets the above definitions) suffers a psychiatric injury, they may be entitled to compensation even if they did not witness the accident or death.  

What can you claim? 

Medical and treatment expenses

– Loss of wages

– Domestic and personal care expenses

– Pain and suffering & loss of enjoyment of life (if psychiatric injuries are assessed at greater than 10% whole person impairment)

Medical expenses, care expenses and some loss of wages are paid on an ongoing basis, this is known as “statutory benefits”. Pain and suffering damages and some loss of earnings, known as “common law damages”, is paid as a single lump sum.  

How much compensation will I receive?  

The amount of compensation you are entitled to receive as well as the damages you can claim will depend on the extent of your injuries and whether they are classified as “minor” or “non-minor” injuries under the legislation. A “minor” injury is defined as an injury that is not a recognised psychiatric illness, such as acute stress disorder or adjustment disorder. Examples of a recognised psychiatric illness and “non-minor” injuries include Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression. 

The benefits you are entitled to will also be dependent on who caused the accident and whether there is any contributory negligence on the part of the victim. 

We can provide you with advice on the extent of your injuries and entitlements. If we believe the insurance company has incorrectly classified your injury as “minor” or has determined liability incorrectly, we will undertake all work necessary to challenge the decision and have it overturned in your favour.  

Time limits 

Time limits apply when challenging the insurance company’s decision regarding the extent of your injuries so ensure you seek legal advice immediately.  

A statutory limitation of three years from the date of accident also applies in which to commence proceedings. However, prior to commencing proceedings, work must be undertaken including gathering medical evidence to establish the extent and consequences of the psychiatric injuries and establishing the elements of negligence, including any contributory negligence of the victim if applicable. 

Don’t delay – seek advice today 

Nervous shock cases can be more difficult to prove than cases where a person has been physically involved and injured in a car accident. It needs to be proven that the injuries were directly related to the traumatic accident. It may also be difficult to assess the loss that has arisen from this event and the amount of damages to be awarded. This requires that the elements of negligence be established and the gathering of medical evidence.

If you believe you have a nervous shock claim, an experienced personal injury lawyer should be consulted to guide you through the complex process and get you the best result. We can assist you with your claim on a “No Win, No Fee” basis. Get in touch with us today by using our free Claim Checker or contact Julia Nguyen for a free initial consultation and no obligation chat.  

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