Martin Faull

If you have had the misfortune of being involved in a motor vehicle accident recently, read the following and speak to a motor vehicle accident claims lawyer asap.

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Can I still make a compensation claim if I had a motor vehicle accident more than 6 months ago?

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and suffered personal injury, you may have heard that you must lodge a claim within the first 6 months otherwise you may not be entitled to pursue a claim for compensation.

What if my motor vehicle accident was more than 6 months ago? Can I still pursue a compensation claim?

Generally speaking, the answer is yes provided that the accident occurred less than 3 years ago.

The 6 month requirement for lodging a claim was brought in with the changes to the South Australian motor vehicle accident laws. Specifically, the Motor Vehicles Act 1959 and the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance) Regulations 2013, which came into effect on 1 July 2013.

What are the consequences if I haven’t lodged a claim within 6 months?

If an injured person does not lodge an approved Injury Claim Form with the Compulsory Third Party Insurance Regulator within 6 months of the motor vehicle accident there are a number of possible consequences. These can include:

  1. The insurer declining to consider or deal with your claim while the default continues (until an approved Injury Claim Form has been provided);
  2. The insurer refusing to pay for your treatment expenses;
  3. The insurer refusing to pay for disbursements associated with your claim (for instance, costs associated with obtaining medical reports);
  4. The injured person not being entitled, until he or she lodges an approved Injury Claim Form, to file court proceedings or continue court proceedings already commenced.

What if I have a reasonable reason why I haven’t lodged a claim within 6 months?

There can be a number of reasons why an injured person has not made a claim within the first 6 months of a motor vehicle accident.

The motor vehicle accident laws, in particular regulation 4(2) of the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Insurance) Regulations 2013, prescribe a number of justifiable reasons why an injured may have failed to lodge a claim.

Provided that the failure to lodge a claim within the first 6 months has not prejudiced the proper assessment of the claim, an injured person should not be penalised by the 4 consequences detailed above if the failure was caused by:

  1. Ignorance or mistake of the injured person;
  2. Absence of the injured person from the State;
  3. Inability of the injured person to make a claim on account of injury or legal disability;
  4. Some other reasonable cause.

Why was the 6 month requirement to lodge a motor vehicle accident claim introduced?

It appears that the intention behind the introduction of the 6 month requirement was to encourage injured people to lodge their claims early.

This allows insurers to deal with claims promptly and provide injured people with access to funding for reasonable treatment expenses at an early stage to assist with their recovery.

The intended purpose behind the introduction of the 6 month requirement was not to extinguish an injured person’s entitlement to claim compensation because a claim was not lodged within the first 6 months after a motor vehicle accident.

If this was the intended purpose, then it would be inconsistent with s 36 of the Limitation of Actions Act 1936, which allows an injured person 3 years from the date of injury within which to bring a claim.

Once the required notice of the claim is provided to the insurer, even if more than 6 months have passed since the motor vehicle accident, the injured person has therefore complied with the notice provisions and the insurer should deal with and process the claim in the usual way.

What should I do if I’m still not sure what I should do or what my entitlements are?

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and you have not lodged a claim, it is important that you obtain legal advice promptly, particularly if the motor vehicle accident occurred more than 6 months ago.

Our team at Lindbloms Lawyers have many years of experience in handling motor vehicle accident claims and we can assist you with navigating the process of making a claim for compensation.