Every year hundreds of people are injured on North Coast roads but to date not everybody has been entitled to be compensated for injuries received in those motor accidents. From 1 December 2017 the NSW Government will introduce statutory CTP benefits for all those injured in motor accidents regardless of fault unless they have been charged or convicted of a serious driving offence.

The Statutory Benefits Scheme includes weekly (compensation style) benefits and medical treatment expenses for up to 5 years regardless of fault but excluding those who are charged with or convicted of a serious driving offence and excluding those at fault drivers or owners whose vehicle was uninsured.

The news is not all good however as injured people assessed to have a "minor injury" will only be able to access statutory benefits (medical treatment, weekly benefits and commercial care) for a period of no more than 6 months.

A minor injury is described as one or more of a soft tissue injury or a minor psychological or psychiatric injury. The Legislation contemplates more precise definition of minor injury by way of Regulation yet to be proclaimed.

The definitions for these minor injuries could result in injured persons being denied CTP statutory benefits unless the insurer's interpretation and application of the statutory benefits definitions are challenged.

The dispute resolution process to be implemented is similar to the current workers compensation dispute process and initially requires Internal Insurer Review before referral to a (yet to be created) dispute resolution service to be provided by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA). The Dispute Resolution Service includes Merit Review, Medical Assessors and Claims Assessors as part of the process.

The NSW Law Society is lobbying SIRA and the NSW Government for fair and reasonable access to legal representation for vulnerable injured persons as the current proposed Legislation and Regulations will limit access to legal assistance.

Seriously injured persons may still be able to access common law damages if not at fault however they will be required to make a separate claim from a claim for statutory benefits and will be required to wait a period of 20 months before making a claim for common law damages.

For expert legal assistance for personal injury and motor accidents claims visit "find a solicitor" on this website and access information regarding Far North Coast Lawyers under the "areas of law" tab and "personal injury" tab.