THE QUICK ANSWER
It’s not compulsory to retain a lawyer to pursue a CTP compensation claim in NSW, however if you choose not to, there can be serious repercussions for the success of your claim and compensation entitlements. The best type of lawyer to represent you is an Accredited Specialists in Personal Injury Law as they are formally recognised by the NSW Law Society. Many have considerable experience in representing injured people against well resourced insurance companies who have trained claims staff, lawyers and barristers defending your claim. Advantage Legal’s Accredited Specialists have unique experience compared to other lawyers in NSW and place considerable emphasis on your rehabilitation outcomes in addition to the end compensation payout.
THE DETAILED ANSWER
Retaining a lawyer can be daunting if you’ve never dealt with one previously. Rest assured, if you find the right lawyer, one who cares about your rehabilitation needs, protecting your compensation entitlements and maximising your payout, the process will be far better than you anticipate.
DO I NEED A LAWYER FOR MY CTP CLAIM?
There is no legal requirement for anyone injured in a motor accident in NSW to engage a lawyer to represent them when pursing a CTP claim, however there are a number of reasons you should:
You’re injured, stressed and don’t have a working knowledge of how the CTP scheme operates. An experienced CTP lawyer will take charge of your claim and answer all of your queries and concerns confidentially.
The NSW CTP scheme is complex and disputes between injured people and insurance companies are common. Lawyers are familiar with the behaviours and standards expected of CTP insurers and will raise concerns with the CTP regulator SIRA (the State Insurance Regulatory Authority) or the Independent Review Office (IRO) for investigation if it appears that a breach has occur. During the 12 month period of 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022, the six CTP insurers operating in NSW were sanctioned a cumulative total of 63 times by SIRA. The sanctions included regulatory notices, letters of censure and civil penalties. Click here for a copy of the SIRA claims experience report.
Insurance companies exist to make money. This is self-evident by the fact that they are privately owned or publicly listed companies rather than not for profit organisations. It is also evidenced by the fact that SIRA has legislative powers to control insurer profit levels both at the time their premiums are filed for approval and retrospectively when profits are ‘realised’ or come to fruition. It is important for injured people to realise that no matter how friendly insurer claim staff appear to be, the overarching objective of a CTP insurer is to make profits for their business and their shareholders. One way of achieving this objective is by saving money on the amount paid out on compensation claims. Refer to the relevant provisions of the Motor Accident Guidelines (Premium Determination) and TEPL Guidelines for more information.
In an attempt to settle your claim, an insurance company is likely to make an offer of settlement at some point in time. Insurance companies are only required to make a ‘reasonable offer’ not their ‘best offer’ which is why the motor accident guidelines require them to provide an initial offer and final offer in writing. Unless you are a lawyer or have prior experience negotiating in the NSW CTP scheme, it will be difficult for you to assess whether the insurer’s offer is reasonable or whether you perceive it to be a lot of money without self-representing yourself in the Personal Injury Commission. Once a compensation settlement is agreed, in the vast majority of circumstances it is final. This means no further compensation is payable in the future even if you find out at a later date that you could have received much more.
Insurance companies will make decisions which impact your entitlements by applying their interpretation of the law and using evidence which is favourable to their interests in order to increase their company profits. Without a lawyer, you will be unaware of whether the insurer’s decision is correct, potentially foregoing significant compensation entitlements.
Insurance companies have considerable claims management experience. They have internal lawyers who guide their claims staff and external law firms and barristers who represent their interests in the Personal Injury Commission and Court. Without an experienced lawyer representing you, the balance of power weighs heavily in favour of the insurer.
WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE AN ACCREDITED SPECIALIST IN PERSONAL INJURY LAW?
An Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law in NSW is a lawyer who has considerable industry experience and who has passed a series of rigorous assessments set by the NSW Law Society. Only a small number of lawyers will ever achieve Specialist Accreditation in NSW. Having an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law act for you on your claim ensures that you are represented by one of the best lawyers in the state.
It should be noted that not all Accredited Specialists are created equal. Some have only worked as lawyers for injured people or for insurance companies. This means that they only have experience in preparing a CTP claim from one perspective, which can be detrimental to your case and your final compensation payout.
The Accredited Specialist Lawyers at Advantage Legal have represented injured people, worked inside insurance companies and have acted as independent claim Decision Makers. This allows them to have a three-dimensional understanding of your claim. They have received industry awards and are the official compensation law firm of Bicycle NSW. You can learn more about the Advantage Legal team and why we are the best choice for your CTP claim by clicking here.
THE KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER
Insurance companies are in the business of making money. By engaging a lawyer to represent you on your CTP claim you ensure that you have a representative who will protect your interests and maximise your final compensation payout.
When choosing a lawyer, choose an Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law.
Most Accredited Specialists only have a one-dimensional understanding of CTP claims. The Accredited Specialists at Advantage Legal have a three-dimensional understanding based on years of industry experience, making them better equipped to look after you and maximise your final compensation payout.
Advantage Legal are Accredited Specialists in NSW personal injury law. We offer no-win, no-fee billing and guide you through every step of the compensation claim process including working with treatment and rehabilitation providers to fully understand how your injuries are impacting you. We also pay your upfront claim investigation fees such as specialist medical reports to ensure there is no financial burden on you throughout the progression of your claim and only seek reimbursement at the successful conclusion of your claim.
If you’ve been injured in a motor accident you can take our FREE online claim assessment. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to speak with a lawyer now, you can click here to book a time to chat with one of our Accredited Specialists.
This article is for education purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers should be aware that NSW motor accident compensation law changes regularly and that the accuracy of information contained within this article is current as of 27 June 2023. Any person relying on the information contained in this article does so at their own risk.