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Will I be compensated for my pain and suffering?

  • News
  • 06 Feb 2024

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident you would expect the law to provide compensation for all the pain, suffering, inconvenience and loss of the enjoyment of your life that you have suffered.  Unfortunately like most things to do with the law it is not that simple.  To be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering you need to meet an arbitrary threshold of 10% whole person impairment (also known as WPI). 

At first blush, this doesn’t seem that hard but in practice, it is actually very difficult to achieve.  So much so that only about 15 – 20% of accident victims are eligible for pain and suffering compensation.  If you think this sounds harsh you’d be right.  It was introduced by the government as a deliberate measure to reduce compensation to help keep the cost of green slips down. 

Consequently, at Firths we make it our business to focus on getting as many of our clients over the 10% threshold as possible.  And if we don’t succeed the first time we keep going until we do. 

That is well illustrated by the facts of a recent case for one of our clients who we will call Sally.  Sally was injured in a motor vehicle accident on 27 April 2019.  The accident was not her fault.  The insurance company promptly admitted liability so there were no problems there.  The big issue as it is for so many people was that the insurance company would not concede that Sally was over the threshold and so we had a fight about that.  For Sally, it was very important that we won that fight because, as she was a pensioner, there was no claim for loss of earnings.  This meant that if we didn’t get her over the threshold so she could recover pain and suffering compensation, she was not going to get anything at all for the claim. 

The insurance company sent her off to a doctor who said that she had 0% WPI and this despite the fact that she had suffered a severe head injury and multiple fractures in the accident!

We then sent her off to see one of our doctors and he assessed her at 20% WPI.  Despite this, the insurance company still refused to concede and so we brought an application to the Personal Injury Commission to have her WPI assessed. 

But, to our disappointment, the assessor only gave her 4% WPI.  We thought there were real issues with the report and so we advised Sally to appeal.  She agreed and so did the Personal Injury Commission who referred Sally’s case to a Review Panel for reassessment.  This would probably be our last chance and so we left no stone unturned to present all the evidence to maximise her chances.  Well, I’m pleased to report that the Review Pain has just handed down its decision and they found Sally to have 17% WPI.  Well and truly over the 10% threshold.  So for the very first time, Sally is eligible for compensation for pain and suffering.  That should add at least $300,000 to the value of Sally’s claim on its own.  Needless to say, Sally was very happy with this outcome. 

If you have been knocked back for pain and suffering compensation then don’t take no for an answer, give us a call!  We’ll take a look at the case and see if we can get you over. 

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