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When you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, and are eligible to seek compensation, you generally have three years to start your claim. However, there are certain situations in which you may be able to extend the time available to seek compensation. 

In this article we are going to discuss some specific information which will be helpful to you when commencing a claim for personal injury compensation. We will also discuss the time limits for compensation claims, and then look at the time limits which apply for specific types of personal injury claims. 

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Starting a claim for personal injury compensation 

Being injured as a result of someone else’s negligence is a difficult thing to go through. You have been injured, and your life is now different. You may suffer from pain, you may have had to change your job or duties to accommodate your injuries, you may have mental health complications which have arisen from your injuries, and other factors in your life may have changed. You are also potentially going to go through the process of claiming for compensation, which can unfortunately be a lengthy and complicated process. 

Why is claiming for compensation a complicated process? 

When assessing a claim for compensation, decision-makers look at some key things: 

  • The type, location and severity of your injury
  • Complications relating to your injury
  • How much your injury has impacted on your life
  • How your injury has impacted on your ability to earn, both now and in the future
  • Medical expenses and healthcare associated with your injury

Essentially, a claim is assessed by looking at your life up to your injury, and then making an estimate of where your life would have gone without your injury, and how you have been impacted. The diagram below outlines the assessment that takes place by looking at your previous life path, and then comparing it to your new life path after your accident. 

Every person’s life is unique. Everyone lives with multiple factors impacting on their life and their ability to earn money, to sustain themselves (and their families), and to gain fulfilment. 

With this in mind then, it is possible to see how assessing a claim for compensation can be complex.

Making your claim for compensation

Each claim for compensation requires a thorough assessment of injuries and the related impacts. This requires detailed and ongoing reporting from medical and healthcare professionals, and an economic assessment of your life and the impact your injury has had on you. 

  • The ability that you have to gather strong evidence is generally at its best the closer you are to your accident. 
  • A witness statement may become unreliable the longer things go on, and your ability to gather strong evidence is going to be better in the time immediately after your accident. 

It is vital, then, that you seek legal advice as soon as you are able to when making a claim for compensation following an accident. While you may have up to three years to commence your claim, the reality is that you should start your claim as soon as you are able to. That way you can be sure that the evidence you gather is strong, and your witness information is reliable and clear. 

Under 18 when you were injured? 

A person under 18 when injured still has the same right to claim compensation as an adult, but they are not considered to have legal capacity until they are 18. 

The laws around personal injury claims permit people injured before they are 18 years old to have three years from the age they turn 18 to commence their claim. 

  • A claim can be commenced for a child, but any claim must be done by a parent or guardian.
  • Many people choose to wait until they are 18 to commence a claim, as it can be difficult to assess how an accident will impact on a life.

Notice requirements when claiming for personal injury

Despite being able to take three years to commence a claim, there are various requirements under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) which relate to time limits no matter the age of the injured person: 

  • A person commencing action against someone (in the case of a person under 18 it would be their litigation guardian) must comply with all pre-court procedure timeframes. 
  • This includes giving notice to the proposed defendant (at-fault party) within nine months of the injury being sustained, or within one month of engaging a law practice to act on the injured party’s behalf.

If a child is injured at eight years old, and the parents wish to wait until their child is 18 to commence their claim, they would still need to provide notice to the proposed defendant within nine months of injury, or within one month of engaging a law practice, whichever is sooner.

Time Limits for Workers Compensation Claims in Queensland

When injured at work you must ensure that you formally report your injury to your employer as soon as is practical. A claim for WorkCover is generally only valid if you have lodged the claim within six months after your entitlement to compensation arises. 

  • In most cases, your eligibility for cover will be the date upon which you have suffered your injury. 
  • The Workers’ Compensation and Rehabilitation Act 2003 (Qld) defines the date of eligibility to compensation as the day on which you are assessed by a doctor, nurse, or dentist (for an oral injury).
  • If you have suffered injury as a result of negligence on the part of your employer and wish to make a claim for legal compensation, the three year limit applies to commencing this claim.

It is worth noting that injury compensation does not permit ‘double dipping’ - that is, if you are paid an amount by WorkCover and are successful in a claim for legal compensation, the amount paid by WorkCover will be deducted from any final financial entitlement. 

Example: Linda cuts her finger on some broken glass left in a sink by another employee at work. She reports the injury immediately to her employer. She goes to hospital, gets stitches, and is off for three weeks while she recovers. She lodges a claim for WorkCover within the six months time limit and receives pay for the three weeks she is off recovering.

Example: Bryan injures his back while heading to the cafeteria at his mining camp site. He slips on some water which has accumulated in a drain - an issue that was known to his employer. He reports the injury to his employer the next day, and makes a claim to WorkCover the next week. He receives payment from WorkCover, but also makes a legal claim for compensation due to his employer’s negligence. He commences the claim three months after suffering his original injury. The pay he received through WorkCover is deducted from his final settlement amount. 

Time Limits for Car Accident and Road Injury Claims in Queensland

Car accidents are sadly all too common on Queensland roads, and when injured as a result of someone else’s driving you are often eligible to seek compensation. The three year time limit applies for starting a claim for compensation when you are injured, remembering that it is important to commence your claim as soon as you are able to.

  • When claiming for compensation after being injured in a road accident, you will claim against the at-fault driver’s compulsory third party (CTP) insurance provider.
  • While you have three years to commence your claim for compensation, you have to abide by legal time limits to notify the at-fault party that you intend to make a claim for compensation. This is the shorter of these two limits: 
    • nine months after the accident and injury arose, or
    • one month after engaging a law practice to act on your behalf.

In some cases, you may have been injured in a hit and run accident. In this case, you can still claim but you will be making a claim to the Nominal Defendant.  

If you are injured in a hit and run and cannot identify the other driver you must give notice to the Nominal Defendant within three months that you intend to claim.

If you can identify the other vehicle but they are uninsured - say, for example you are injured by the driver of an unregistered vehicle: 

  • you have nine months to notify the nominal defendant if you are unrepresented, or 
  • one month if you have engaged a solicitor to manage your claim. 

Time Limits for Public Place Injury Claims in Queensland

When injured in a public place the usual three year time limit applies. You also need to adhere to the limits relating to notice - that is, to provide notice to the proposed defendant within nine months of your accident or within one month if engaging a solicitor to act on your behalf.

  • Public place injuries rely heavily on witness statements, CCTV footage, reports and employee information.
  • It is important that you advise the public place defendant as soon as possible of your accident so that they can begin to provide footage and information that can assist you with your claim.

Time Limits for Medical Negligence Claims in Queensland

The time limit to commence a medical negligence injury claim is three years. As noted above, if you are under 18 when you are injured you have three years after turning 18 to commence your claim, noting that you still must advise the at-fault party within nine months of injury, or one month of engaging a solicitor no matter your age. 

Being injured as a result of medical negligence can be traumatic. You have trusted a medical professional and have suffered injury as a result. Despite the associated complications, it is imperative that you report your medical negligence injury to the at-fault party as soon as possible so that you can commence the process of claiming for your injuries. 

  • Medical negligence cases are often complicated. Your solicitor will need to collect a great deal of information including hospital records, expert reports, and associated information. 
  • If you are seeking a claim against a health practitioner you should seek legal advice to help you move forward with what may be a complex claim. 

Murphy’s Law is a team of personal injury lawyers who are dedicated to ensuring that you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. Speak to our team today and get started with your claim for compensation.

Posted by Sarah Truter Solicitor

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Disclaimer: Please note, this content is designed as general information only and does not constitute legal advice. While we make every effort to fact check and keep items up to date, legislation may change from time to time. For advice on your specific situation then please contact us.
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