Why this woman had to pay $20,000
A YOUNG Sydney woman has had her life turned upside down, having to quit her job after she was involved in a severe car accident that has left her crippled.
Jess was stopped at a red light in March this year when a car travelling 70km/h rammed into the back of her, pushing her vehicle onto oncoming traffic.
As a result, her car was written off, as was the car at fault.
While she is lucky to be alive, Jess sustained abdominal trauma from the impact, nerve damage in her neck, a perforated bowel that has led to severe digestive issues, hypertension and is dealing with PTSD.
The 26-year-old, who did not want her real name used, struggles to walk and experiences vertigo if walking too far without a sufficient break.
"I can't really do anything at the moment. My health is still under treatment and every time I get reviewed there seems to be another process, or another medication I need to take. It has taken its toll on me," she said.
"I am vomiting every day. I can't move properly or lift. I no longer meet the requirements for my physically taxing job as a retail supervisor which involves lifting and running around the floor."
The insurance company of the person at fault covered Jess for six months, but since then, she's had to fork out more than $20,000 to further cover medical costs and her rent.
She told news.com.au the financial burden has forced her to sell possessions including jewellery.
"My car has more rights than me. My car was settled and covered after three weeks with no issues, but with me, it was 'why are you sick, are you sure you're sick?'" she said.
Despite proof from specialists that she is still in need of medical attention, Jess says the insurance company has refused to cover her.
Under new reforms as stated on the NSW Government website (CTP Green Slip reforms), "all injured people, regardless of fault, are entitled to up to six months of benefits".
For those in need of benefits after six months, the site states that it can continue for up to two years for people who were not at fault in the accident and whose injures are more than minor injuries.
"Medical, treatment and care benefits can continue as required, for life if necessary," it states.
However, according to Jess's lawyer and Law Partners principal, Chantille Khoury, the at-fault driver's insurance company has classed her injuries as minor and her benefits have been cut off.
Despite everyone in NSW eligible for a rebate, Ms Khoury said it has come at the expense of people who have been injured.
"The insurance companies are now the judge and jury on what people get and they are cutting people off at the six month mark regardless of whether they are fully recovered or not," Ms Khoury said.
"The new system is so confusing that if you don't lodge your claim in time or you leave out an injured body part from your claim, it can be the difference between getting $10,000 and $100,000."
In the first eight months of the new scheme just two per cent of nearly $1 billion in CTP premiums has been paid to injured people despite NSW Government assurances that more than 50 per cent would be paid out, Ms Khoury said.
"The only winners out of the Compulsory Third Party reforms are the insurers while stressed and injured people are under even more pressure," she said.
"The vast majority of people injured in car accidents are now prohibited from retaining a solicitor to file their claim while insurance companies not only decide the amount of compensation but adjudicate initial appeals."
Ms Khoury said she fears many people living in chronic pain and unable to work will receive tens of thousands of dollars less than they would have just one year ago.
"The so-called reforms are causing more suffering for injured people like Jess and so we've launched the CTP Claim Advice Hub which is a free service for those who are trying to navigate the system on their own," she said.
The Claim Advice Hub is designed to give those who have been injured in a car accident to register their claim, and in return, receive free online and phone support from a specialist CTP lawyer.
Tips to avoid pitfalls when navigating the new system:
Source: Law Partners
If you are lodging your own claim:
1. Make sure you take all of your injuries into account
2. Don't just accept the insurer's decision - you can challenge it
3. Check your entitlements on CTPClaimAdvice.com.au
If you need further legal assistance:
1. Engage a lawyer who is a specialist with the new regulations
2. Ask how many times they've successfully challenged an insurer's decision
3. Make sure your lawyer has training in medical issues