I have been in a car accident and I only have a bit of whiplash am I entitled to compensation?

I have been in a car accident and I only have a bit of whiplash am I entitled to compensation?

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In Western Australia most motor vehicle accidents result in simple whiplash. This is usually described by doctors as a soft tissue injury to the cervical spine and lumbar spine. Overwhelmingly the claims for compensation made with the compulsory third-party injury insurer, the Insurance Commission of Western Australia relate to this kind of injury.

Many injured people contact a lawyer indicating that they are not sure whether they have a claim for compensation. In Western Australia there is a threshold in respect of “non-pecuniary loss” or pain and suffering types of damages of around $20,000, so it is true to say that not everyone will be able to make out a claim for these kind of damages. Well this is the case, it is common for clients who are making an inquiry to have a claim for compensation that is worth money.

How do I know if my motor vehicle accident injury claim is worth money?

To certain extent this comes down to basic logic. In the event and injured person’s treating medical practitioner has stated that they need some sort of medical treatment into the future, it would appear that they claim is at the very least work that amount. In addition, if an injured person has even a small amount of time off work as a result of an accident, then at the very least they would have a claim for loss of wages for the period they were off work as a result of the accident so long as they have medical certification that they could not work as a result of the accident.

Other areas of damages are more complicated and require legal advice. For example, above I have explained that some claims will not overcome the threshold for non-pecuniary loss. It is complicated to ascertain whether a claim will overcome the threshold, and legal advice should be obtained. At this point it should be noted that the Insurance Commission of Western Australia will usually make offers on the basis that is less than the overall amount that the claim is worth, so an injured person should not rely on the Insurance Commission of Western Australia to act in their best interest.

What do I need to do to show that I have a claim for a motor vehicle accident in Western Australia that overcomes the threshold for non pecuniary loss?

The normal way in which an injured person will overcome the threshold in a personal injury claim is by reference to medical evidence from treating doctors and medico-legal referrals.

It is important to realise that the Insurance Commission of Western Australia and their solicitors will often obtain evidence from specialists who will effectively play down the extent of any disability. It is important to obtain appropriate evidence to counter these medical reports.

To a much more limited degree it is also helpful to obtain witness statements from family and friends who have witnessed the injured person’s suffering. In this regard the more independent the witness is, the more likely the evidence will be accepted by a court.

What is the maximum amount that can be awarded regarding non pecuniary loss?

The maximum amount as at the date of writing is $399,000 but this will increase from time to time. Such an award would represent 100% of the ‘worst case’ and a person should only expect an award of this magnitude if they have catastrophic injuries.

Where can I find out more about how non-pecuniary loss is assessed?

The Insurance Commission of Western Australia maintains a helpful table on their website regarding the application of the threshold for personal injury claims on their website which can be viewed by following the link below.


In search, you will find many law firm like Foyle Legal that practices in the area of personal injury and motor vehicle accident injury compensation claims and acts in personal injury matters no win no fee basis. At Foyle Legal your first consultation is free and obligation free if you do not proceed.

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