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Your Top Questions Answered: Navigating Car Accident Claims

car accident

A car accident can make for a daunting and stressful experience for all involved. Unfortunately, this troubling time can be worsened by the uncertainty and many questions that drivers often have about the car accident claims process. However, understanding the steps involved can alleviate these incidents’ stress and confusion. Whether you’re at fault or not, dealing with uninsured drivers or facing a rejected claim, knowing your rights and obligations is crucial.

That’s why our experienced car accident lawyers have combined their expertise to make the process easier and simpler to understand, offering clear answers to your most pressing questions. Let’s explore the key aspects of motor vehicle claims, ensuring you’re equipped to handle the challenges with confidence and clarity.

How Long After A Car Accident Can You Make A Claim?

If you’re involved in a car accident, your first priority will inevitably be ensuring all parties have avoided injury, but following this, the question of insurance must be raised. But how long after the car accident should you make a claim, or should you at all? In short, time is of the essence. Generally, you must initiate your claim within three months of the accident occurring. 

However, if you’re looking to gain compensation for loss of earnings (perhaps if the accident caused physical or mental suffering), the window narrows to just 28 days following the incident. Missing these deadlines can significantly impact your eligibility for backpay, although exceptions may apply in certain circumstances.

How long after a car accident you can make a claim in NSW

Gather and submit all necessary documentation, such as your payslips or employer statements to substantiate your pre-accident earnings. Or, if you’re self-employed, specific requirements may vary and consulting with CTP Assist or a knowledgeable car accident lawyer can provide on which documents you will need. In any case, starting the process and submitting the claim as early as possible helps to ensure you don’t miss out on any entitlements.

How Do I Claim Car Insurance If I’m Not At Fault?

If you find yourself in the unfortunate circumstance of a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to understand how to proceed with an insurance claim. First, you’ll need to gather all necessary information from the other driver, including the name, contact details, insurer, policy number, and their car’s model and registration number. Witness statements and details can also be invaluable to your claim. 

Most insurers offer many ways to file a claim, including an online portal, a phone service, or by submitting a completed claims form via email or post. If your claim is recognised as a “not at fault claim”, you may be exempt from paying the excess fee. Typically, damage to your vehicle in such cases is covered by the at-fault party’s insurance, provided they are insured.

What Happens If The At-Fault Driver Is Not Insured?

Even if the at-fault driver in your car accident claim is uninsured, they’re still responsible for the costs of the damages to your vehicle and property. Instances where a car accident has occurred and the other driver cannot be identified, such as hit-and-run accidents, might still allow you to claim under your comprehensive policy, although an excess fee may apply. 

In these situations, it’s important to closely consult your relevant policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to understand your level of coverage, how it works, and the rules that apply to this situation. Making an informed claim can help ensure that you encounter a process that is as smooth as possible, minimising your stress in an already challenging time.

Can Insurance Companies Reject Claims?

While the majority of cases are accepted, car accident claims can be rejected by insurance companies. In fact, the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA) found that in 2022, 96.6% of CTP claims were accepted by insurers. So while there’s a good chance that your claim will be accepted, there is a chance that it will be rejected, and it’s important to know what your options are in these circumstances. 

percentage of CTP claims accepted in 2022

Your car accident claim may be rejected if you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, if you were driving without a valid license or failing to meet restrictions, or if your vehicle was unroadworthy or unregistered at the time of the accident. In these circumstances, you won’t be able to dispute the claim, but in most other circumstances, your car accident lawyer can walk you through the dispute process. 

The first step is to carefully review your insurance policy, making sure you understand any relevant exclusions, limitations, or provisions that may impact your claim. Then, you can communicate with the insurance company to confirm the reason for the denial. From there, ensure you have provided all relevant documentation, such as receipts, invoices, estimates and even any photos or videos. Then, you can file an appeal to kickstart the internal appeals process. In some cases, an external review or mediation process may be available to conclusively resolve the matter.  

What Happens If I Can’t Afford An Insurance Claim?

Circumstances may arise where you are unable to pay the required damages for a car accident claim if you were at fault, or even if you were not, you may not be able to pay the required excess. However, in both of these circumstances, insurers will usually allow for flexibility to assist you, provided that you can prove you are in financial hardship.

If you were successful in a claim and were not at fault, but cannot afford to pay the excess fee upfront, you can ask your insurer to arrange a payment plan in which you pay instalments at regular intervals. Alternatively, you can ask your insurer to deduct the required excess fee from the payout that you receive.

individual speaking to insurer

The circumstances become more difficult you are at fault and are unable to pay the required fees. If the other driver is uninsured, you can ask them to stop collecting the debt by explaining your financial situation and the fees that court proceedings may incur for both parties. However, in the majority of circumstances where the other driver is insured, you may liaise with their insurer to establish more preferable arrangements. This might include an extension of the time to pay the full claim amount, a reduced lump sum payment, payment in regular instalments, or postponing payments for a period. 

Manage Your Car Accident Claims With Confidence

When it comes to car accident claims, clarity and timeliness are paramount. By understanding the nuances of the claims process, from timely submissions to navigating insurance complexities, you empower yourself to handle challenges with confidence. Remember, early action and thorough documentation are your allies in ensuring you receive the support you deserve. With knowledgeable guidance from experienced car accident lawyers and a proactive approach, you can navigate these situations with clarity and assurance.

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