If you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident in Western Australia, it’s important to know the car accident law in WA. Foyle Legal is a full-service personal injury law firm. We represent and work with the victims of car accidents, to make sure you are compensated for your injuries and damages.
Table of Contents
- What is the punishment for car accident?
- What do I do if I have a minor car accident?
- Can you sue someone for a car accident in Australia?
- Is it worth suing after a car accident?
- Can you claim for trauma from a car accident?
- What happens if you get hurt in a car accident?
- Is it worth getting an accident lawyer?
- When should you call a lawyer after an accident?
- How do I settle a car accident claim without a lawyer?
- How much should I settle for after a car accident?
What is the punishment for a car accident?
The punishment for a car accident depends on what you did wrong and the severity of the consequences.
For example, Section 62 of the Road Traffic Act WA 1974 says that “Every person who drives a motor vehicle without due care and attention commits an offence”. The maximum penalty for careless driving is 12 penalty units ($600). If you are a probationary driver however you stand to have your licenced cancelled.
Compare this to the offence of Dangerous Driving Causing grievous bodily harm. If a person
- drives a vehicle in a manner that is, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, dangerous to the public or any person and;
- That driving results in bodily injury of such a nature as to endanger or be likely to endanger life, or to case, or be likely to cause, permanent injury to health.
Then that person could face serious penalties under Section 59 WA’s Road Traffic Act. Section 59 of the Road Traffic Act sets out the penalties. For a case not involving aggravation, the person committing the offence could face a period of up to seven years of imprisonment.
What do I do if I have a minor car accident?
If you are involved in a minor motor vehicle accident then you should report the car crash:
- To the Police if there is personal injury or property damage; and
- To the Insurance Commission of Western Australia (ICWA), the compulsory third party insurance company in Western Australia if you wish to claim personal injury compensation.
If a car accident is not reported to the police by the driver involved then the driver may commit a crime under the Road Traffic Act 1974.
If you are planning to seek motor vehicle accident compensation for your car accident injuries. You must report your injuries and lodge the claim with the insurance commission of Western Australia as soon as practicable.
People who do not report their injury to ICWA they may find that ICWA refuses to accept liability for the motor vehicle accident as the injured person has not advised ICWA of the compensation claim pursuant to Section 29 of the Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act 1943.
It is important to note that a seemly minor car accident may have life long impact on the injured person. If you have made a personal injury claim, it is a good idea to seek legal services from car accident lawyers for your motor vehicle accident claim.
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Can you sue someone for a car accident in Australia?
In Western Australia, you can sue someone for a car accident, regardless of whether the car accident claim is for personal injury or property damage.
In order to be successful at motor vehicle accident claims, you must be able to prove that you were not at fault or were only partially at fault. If the car crash happened outside of Western Australia, then advice should be sought from a lawyer in your state of Australia.
Motor vehicle damage claims would ordinarily be brought in the Magistrates Court of Western Australia which has jurisdiction of up to $75,000.00. If the value of the damage is greater than $75,000.00 then consideration should be given to suing in the District Court of Western Australia.
The District Court of Western Australia has unlimited jurisdiction regarding personal injury claims, and as such most personal injury claims are brought in the District Court.
There are limits and thresholds that apply to personal injury claims in Western Australia. Commencing legal proceedings can have big consequences so legal advice from car accident lawyers should be sought before suing someone for a car accident in Western Australia.
Is it worth suing after a car accident?
In some car accident compensation claims, it is not worthy to sue the defendant. In this case, if you sue the defendant after a car accident and it was unsuccessful, the person making the claim may be ordered to pay the legal fees of the Defendant.
Legal advice from motor vehicle accident lawyers should be sought before commencing legal proceedings in Western Australia. In personal injury claims, this is especially the case if:
- the fault is in dispute,
- the claim is relatively small,
- or if the ICWA has made a prior offer of settlement.
No Win, No Fee Lawyers
Under the No Win, No Fee arrangement, you won’t need to pay Foyle Legal’s Legal fees (the fees that we charge for the work we do on your claim), unless we get you a settlement amount.
Your lawyer will take you through this arrangement in more detail including any terms and conditions in your obligation free first initial consultation.
For quick information on our No Win, No Fee terms and disbursements, please visit our No Win No Fee Lawyers Page
There is a threshold for ‘non-pecuniary loss’ (which includes pain and suffering, loss of amenity and loss of enjoyment of life). There are maximum rates for an economic loss claim and thresholds for ‘gratuitous services’ which are the services provided by family and friends regarding the activities of daily living.
Informal Offer of Settlement
In some scenarios (for example where the injuries are minor) it may be better to avoid legal proceedings and make an offer of settlement to the Insurance Commission of Western Australia by letter.
Suing Defendant after Car Accidents
In other cases, where the injured person has suffered catastrophic injuries such as severe spinal cord injuries then the injured person will often be better off commencing legal proceedings.
When there is a serious injury claim, the best way to ensure the best outcome for the injured person is to engage a reputable law firm, such as Foyle Legal. We have teams of personal injury lawyers in Perth, this helps to draw expertise to optimise the outcome for all compensation claims.
Can you claim for trauma from a car accident?
If you were not at fault in causing the car accident, or you were only partially at fault, then you may be able to claim for trauma from a car accident as part of your motor vehicle accident claim. The claim would be for ‘non-pecuniary loss’ which includes:
(a) pain and suffering;
(b) loss of amenities of life;
(c) loss of enjoyment of life;
(d) curtailment of expectation of life; and
(e) bodily or mental harm.
There is a threshold for non-pecuniary loss which is currently $23,000.00. If you wish to claim for ‘non-pecuniary loss then you should seek legal advice from car accident lawyers so that you can understand the risks associated with your claim and how much your claim is worth.
What happens if you get hurt in a car accident?
Motor vehicle accidents often result in injuries such as whiplash, back injuries and neck injuries. If car accidents are not the injured person’s fault or are only partially the injured person’s fault, then the injured person can seek compensation through the ICWA. The ICWA will investigate liability for the vehicle accident compensation claim and then make a decision as to whether they will accept liability to pay damages.
It usually takes a while for an injured person to reach maximum medical improvement. If the ICWA accepts the claim they will usually pay for medical expenses to help the injured person to get better.
Once the person who made the car accident compensation claim has reached maximum medical improvement they should look to seek legal advice from a motor vehicle accident lawyer. This lawyer or law firm will be able to provide advice about the legal position and whether it would be best to avoid legal proceedings or to commence court proceedings regarding the injury sustained in the car accident.
Most motor vehicle accident compensation claims settle before or during court proceedings. Not many cases end up proceeding to a trial.
Is it worth getting an accident lawyer?
In most cases, it is worth getting an accident lawyer if you have suffered personal injury as a result of a car accident that was not your fault or was only partially your fault.
Many law firms in Western Australia provide legal services on a no win no fee basis and provide an obligation-free initial consultation to injured people who are seeking legal advice.
Personal injury law firms can provide advice as to the likely outcome of a legal matter. In many cases liability for motor vehicle accidents is admitted by the ICWA, but if liability is not admitted advice can be provided as to whether the other driver involved was the negligent party under compensation law.
It is common for people injured in a car crash to suffer from financial hardship as a result of economic loss associated with the car accident. No win no fee lawyers can often assist by paying the cost associated with medical reports which are required to prove that the person sustained injuries following the car accident.
You can call a lawyer at any time following a car accident, however, people who are injured in a car accident should be aware that there are strict time limits on commencing legal proceedings in Western Australia.
Status of Limitation
In Western Australia, there is a ‘limitation period’ which applies to motor vehicle accident injury claims, as a kind of personal injury claim. Section 14 of the Limitation Act 2005 relevantly states “An action for damages relating to a personal injury to a person cannot be commenced if 3 years have elapsed since the cause of action accrued.” This means that you cannot keep your claim open indefinitely without commencing legal proceedings, and you will most likely be unable to make a successful negligence claim if you do not commence legal proceedings or bring legal proceedings after 3 years have elapsed since the motor vehicle accident.
Complex Personal Claim
If your personal injury claim is complex, it is good to work with a good personal injury law firm as early as possible to ensure the personal injury claim process is properly managed. Typical complex claims may include:
- Hit and run accident claims
- Rear-end collision claims
- Car accident on the way to work – in this case, you may need a workers compensation lawyer with car accident claim expertise to help with the claim.
- Cyclist got hit by a car
- Fatally injured dependency claim
- Brain injury claims – it often takes a long time to reach medical stabilisation
If the defendant’s law firm or insurance commission has been difficult. It is also a sign that motor vehicle lawyers should be engaged in your car accident claims as early as possible. Here are the claims that you should engage a senior lawyer as early as possible:
- Motorcycle accident claims – motorbike accidents often involved big injuries
- PTSD claims – PTSD claims are often disputed
- Compensation for CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) – the science around the condition is still maturing
How do I settle a car accident claim without a lawyer?
You can settle a car accident claim without the assistance of a lawyer. Most people do this by exchanging letters of offer with the ICWA.
A lot of people are scared about hiring a lawyer as they have never done so before. Personal injury law is an unusual area of law as lawyers often act on a no win no fee basis. Lawyers provide affordable assistance regarding legal fees and this assistance can make for a less stressful process.
If your legal team is an experienced team of personal injury lawyers then they can advise you how much your claim is worth in circumstances where you are unlikely to know yourself.
The usual situation is that at settlement most of the legal fees are paid for by the ICWA over and above the lump sum settlement amount.
Foyle Legal provides affordable legal representation. Please call us for your obligation-free over the phone legal advice. This initial telephone call cost you nothing but it will make a big difference in your compensation claims. This is particularly important if you have a serious injury claim, motorbike accident claim, or catastrophic injury claim.
How much should I settle for after a car accident?
Most people come to a personal injury lawyer as they do not know how much their claim is worth and are seeking obligation-free legal advice regarding a lump sum settlement of their motor vehicle accident compensation claim.
It is important to realise that once motor vehicle accident claims are settled, they are settled forever, so it is important to get it right the first time.
Motor vehicle accident lawyers will usually be able to provide obligation free legal advice regarding a motor vehicle claim so that you know where you stand.