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Personal injury claims – Time limits apply – All time limits explained

The purpose of this blog is to explain all of the time limits that apply to personal injury claims in Queensland.

If you are unsure about whether a particular time limit has expired or may be approaching or whether any time limits may apply to your situation, please promptly seek advice from a lawyer or law firm with expertise in personal injury law. Many firms offer a free case assessment and at no obligation.

Road Accidents

If injured due to a road accident due to someone’s negligence such as the driver of your vehicle or the driver of another vehicle, a Notice of Accident Claim Form needs to be lodged with the Compulsory Third Party Insurer (CTP Insurer of the vehicle at fault) within 9 months of the date of the accident or 1 month from your first consultation with a solicitor – whichever is earlier. Some people do not engage a lawyer so the initial time limit for self-represented injured people is 9 months.

If the road accident was caused by an unregistered vehicle or an unidentified vehicle (such as a hit and run accident) there is no CTP Insurer. In this situation, the time limits are much closer. The injured person has 3 months to lodge the Notice of Accident Claim Form with a Government Agency called the Nominal Defendant. If you do not lodge the claim form within 3 months then you can still lodge it along with a reasonable excuse for delay but this needs to happen within 9 months of the date of the accident otherwise the claim will be lost forever or statute barred.

After the Notice of Accident Claim Form has been lodged with the CTP Insurer and has achieved compliance, court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years of the date of the accident/injury, otherwise the claim will be lost forever or statute barred.

In limited circumstances, a claim can still proceed after the three year time limit has expired, however, an extension of the limitation period is required and this involves an exercise of discretion by the court in favour of the injured person. A very good and compelling explanation for the delay is generally required.

Work Accidents – WorkCover Claims

If injured at work, an injured worker has 6 months from the date of the accident/injury/illness to lodge an a claim form with WorkCover Queensland (WorkCover). If lodged outside the 6 month time limit then a reasonable excuse for delay is required. There are different ways to lodge the claim form with WorkCover. The claim can be lodged over the telephone, online, by post and via your medical practitioner.

We find the often the simplest and easiest approach is for the injured worker to visit their GP and the GP will fax off a workers’ compensation medical certificate to WorkCover. WorkCover will then be in touch with the employer and the worker to obtain some basic facts about the work injury and then a claim determination will be made either very promptly or within a few weeks.

In some cases, WorkCover will take longer than a few weeks to make a determination about whether to accept or reject a claim but this usually involves more complex injuries or illnesses such as claims involving psychological injury due to allegations of bullying and harassment due to witnesses needing to be interviewed and the existence of factual disputes.

At the conclusion of the WorkCover claim, an injured worker can request WorkCover to issue a Notice of Assessment. An injured worker is generally not entitled to commence a common law claim for damages until the Notice of Assessment has been issued.

A Notice of Assessment is a very important document which has legal consequences. We recommend that all injured workers seek advice about their rights and options when they receive a Notice of Assessment.

The Notice of Assessment will contain an offer of lump sum compensation if the injured workers is left with an ongoing disability or impairment.

Similar to road accident claims, if an injured worker wishes to pursue a common law claim for damages, court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years of the date of accident/injury otherwise the claim will be lost forever or statute barred.

Public Liability, Product Liability & Medical Negligence Claims

For claims such as slip/trip and falls, product liability claims (defective products) and medical negligence claims court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years of the date of accident/injury/illness which is the same time limit as it is for road and work accidents.

A Notice of Claim document needs to be lodged or submitted to the alleged negligent party within 9 months of the date of accident/injury or within 1 month of the date of the first consultation with a lawyer, whichever comes first.

It is not possible to commence court proceedings until a settlement conference has been held which generally takes place after all investigations have been carried out by both sides including the commissioning of expert evidence regarding the quantum (full value of the claim) and liability.

For medical negligence claims, an initial notice must be provided to the doctor/hospital which has been alleged to have been negligent and then within 12 months, a Notice of Claim document has to be submitted along with a report from an appropriately qualified medical specialist to address the negligence of the doctor/hospital.

Dust Diseases Claims

In recent years, time limits have been abolished or removed for dust disease claims such as claims for asbestos disease such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, asbestos related lung cancer and other dust related diseases such as silicosis with respect to the commencement of court proceedings.

If you are diagnosed with a work-related dust disease, you still have only 6 months from the date of diagnosis by a doctor to lodge the claim with WorkCover.

If you have a dust disease claim against a supplier or manufacturer such as James Hardie, there is no time limit and court proceedings can be commenced immediately.

If you have been diagnosed with a terminal condition, court proceedings can be rapidly progressed so that the claim be resolved or determined quickly and usually within the injured person’s lifetime.

Historical/Institutional Sexual Abuse Claims

Also in recent years, time limits have been abolished or removed for this type of claim, however, we encourage clients to investigate and lodge these claims as soon as possible due to the passage of time so that efforts can be made to try to locate witnesses and other supportive evidence.

Greg is widely regarded as one of Australia’s leading compensation law experts. Greg has a very healthy practice and enjoys providing his clients with superior personal service in every case. Greg is absolutely committed to achieving the best settlement outcomes for his clients while keeping the legal costs down.
Liam was admitted as a Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2022 and works with Greg Black and his team in the Brisbane City office.

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Your state has been updated to QLD. Practice areas on compensation law have been updated.