Catastrophic injuries have devastating and life altering consequences which require ongoing care and financial assistance of the injured person. Examples of catastrophic injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Amputation injuries
- Wrongful death
A catastrophic injury refers to any injury which has been caused by someone else’s negligence and includes for example the following:
- motor vehicle accidents;
- work place accidents;
- slip and trips;
- the negligence of a medical practitioner.
In certain circumstances the accident or incident which gave rise to the Catastrophic injury or death of a person might have have been caused partially by such person’s contributory negligence. This will not mean that there will be no claim but could result in a reduction of the amount that can be claimed. However, as from 1 July 2016 the Motor Vehicle Accident (Catastrophic Injuries) Act 2016 comes into force which will mean that if the injured person was involved in a car, truck, bus or motorcycle crash, they will have a claim against The Insurance Commissioner of Western Australia irrespective of who caused or was at fault in the accident.
Care should however be taken as there are strict time limits in which a claim may be brought, usually 3 years from date of accident/incident. Certain exceptions to the rule do apply but they are limited to specific instances.
The categories of damages which can be claimed include the following:
- General damages in respect of pain, suffering and loss of amenities of life;
- Past and future loss of earnings and or earning potential;
- Past and future medical and hospital expenses;
- Rehabilitation expenses;
- Assistive devices such for example a wheelchair;
- Home care and assistance;
- home alterations and modifications;
- Motor vehicle modifications;
- Gratuitous services rendered.
The claims procedure encompasses the following
- Investigating who was liable or at fault in the accident/incident;
- Obtaining all medical evidence regarding the extent and long term effects of the injury including the financial implications thereof;
- The quantification of the actual loss suffered by the injured party or the dependents of the deceased which is achieved by obtaining medico legal reports from duly qualified health and ancillary professionals;
- The issuing of a writ and statement of claim which initiates the action against the party/parties liable for the injured/deceased injuries and damages;
- Various pre-trial conferences during which the possibility of settlement is explored failing which the matter is then heard by a court of law.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.