NSW Motor Vehicle Accidents: What is a minor and non-minor injury

NSW Motor Vehicle Accidents: What is a minor and non-minor injury?

Am I entitled to lump sum compensation? How much lump sum compensation am I entitled to? This is often one of the first questions we get asked by our clients who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident.  

In order to answer this question, the first thing that must be established is whether you have sustained a “minor” or “non-minor” injury as defined under the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 (NSW). The benefits and lump sum you are entitled to will be based on the diagnosis of your injury. It is not dependent on your pain levels, symptoms or emotional impact the injury may be having on you.   

“Minor” Injuries

A minor physical injury is a ‘soft tissue injury’ or muscular type injury. For example, a sore back, whiplash injury to the neck which results in neck pain or muscular strain to a body part.  

A minor psychological injury is an injury which is not a recognised psychiatric illness. An adjustment disorder or acute stress disorder such as anxiety or depressed moods would be classified as a minor injury under the Act.  

Unfortunately, if you have sustained a minor injury you will not be eligible to receive lump sum compensation (known as “Common Law Damages”). You will, however, be entitled to have your medical and treatment expenses, loss of wages and care expenses paid for 26 weeks from the date of accident. This is known as “statutory benefits”. 

“Non-Minor” Injury

A non-minor physical injury is an injury which is more than a ‘soft tissue injury’. Examples of a non-minor injury include: 

– Fractures  

– Nerve injuries 

– Complete or partial rupture of tendons or ligament 

– Damage to the spinal nerve root that meets the criteria for radiculopathy 

– Scarring  

– Disfigurement  

– Eye damage 

– Hearing loss 

– Brain injury  

– Organ injury 

A non-minor psychiatric injury is a recognised psychiatric illness such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 

If you have sustained a non-minor injury AND you are not mostly at fault for your accident, you will continue to be eligible to receive your medical expenses, care expenses and loss of wages (“statutory benefits”) on an ongoing basis. In addition, you will also be entitled to a lump sum compensation for your pain and suffering (if your injuries are over 10% whole person impairment) and your past and future loss of earnings.  

When will my injuries be classified?

The insurer will make a decision on whether they classify your injuries as “minor” or “non-minor” within 3 months of your claim being lodged. This decision will also indicate who is at fault for the accident.  

What happens if you disagree with the minor injury decision?

If the insurer has incorrectly classified your injury as minor, this could cost you tens of thousands in benefits, possibly even more. The insurer’s decision can be challenged so it’s important that you act upon it quickly so that you are not disadvantaged.  

If you have sustained multiple injuries, only one of your injuries need to be classified as non-minor, for you to be eligible to receive lump sum compensation and claim damages for all your injuries if you were not mostly at fault for your accident.  

We can provide you with advice on the extent of your injuries and entitlements. If we believe the insurance company has incorrectly classified your injury as “minor”, we will undertake all work necessary to challenge the decision and have it overturned in your favour. The insurer will pay for the fees associated with this application so there is no cost at all to you.  

Strict time limits apply when challenging the insurance company’s decision so ensure you seek legal advice immediately. If you believe that the insurer has incorrectly deemed your injury as minor get in touch with Julia Nguyen for a free initial consultation and no obligation chat.  

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