How Damages are Calculated for Motor Vehicle Accidents

15 April, 2019



In 2018 the Insurance Commission of WA received 11,818 motor injury insurance claims.


A claim against the Insurance Commission of WA allows for the payment of damages, or compensation, as a result of injuries suffered by the negligent driving of a motor vehicle and includes payments for general damages (pain and suffering), past and future economic loss, past and future medical treatment, gratuitous services (voluntary assistance) and travelling expenses.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident it is vital you keep a record of all your related expenses as well as supporting evidence for items such as loss of income in order to receive the benefits you are entitled to. There are a range of expenses and loss that can be claimed so it is important to seek professional legal advice.

It is also very important that you attend upon your doctor regularly and report your current symptoms and explain how the accident injuries have affected you physically, emotionally and psychologically so that a comprehensive record will be kept and medical reports requested will contain sufficient and detailed information.




General Damages (Pain and Suffering)

Medical evidence obtained in relation to your injury will take into consideration not only the injury and disability you’ve suffered but also how that injury or disability affects your life. This is referred to as the general damages or pain and suffering component and takes into account your loss of enjoyment of life and loss of amenities.

For example, if you enjoyed playing sport prior to the injury and you haven’t been able to afterwards, this is considered in the general damages component. You should report these inabilities to your doctor.

The general damages component is subject to a statutory threshold which is currently $21,500.00 so all assessment of damages must be above this amount. The final payment amount for general damages will have the threshold amount of $21,500 deducted first and the net amount is payable to the injured person to the maximum amount of $418,000.00 (worst case).


Economic Loss

You are also entitled to be compensated for financial losses you have suffered. This includes past economic loss as well as any future economic loss or loss of earning capacity that is anticipated in the future, based on the medical and other evidence. You are able to claim past economic loss if you required time off due to your injury. In that instance, your sick leave and annual leave entitlements can be claimed back, in addition to any leave without pay that you were required to take.

In some instances, it may difficult to fully or accurately quantify future loss of earnings capacity and many awards of damages in this respect are assessed on a global basis.


Gratuitous Services

It is possible to claim for the voluntary assistance of family and friends who help you by providing care or domestic activities for tasks (including housekeeping and gardening) that you have been unable to do since the accident. These voluntary services are claimed at the rate of approximately $30.00 per hour and this is claim is also subject to a statutory threshold of $6,500.00.


Medical treatment expenses

If the Insurance Commission of WA accepts liability for your claim, it will pay for all reasonable medical expenses including (but not limited to) ambulance, hospital, nursing and medication costs. In addition, items such as medical aids eg glasses that were damaged in the accident may be claimable.

When considering a lump sum settlement, you must also consider future medical treatment costs you may incur and what may happen if your medical circumstances change.

The amount the Insurance Commission of WA will refund is outlined in the Australian Medical Association’s fee list ( as well as Workcover’s scale of fees (


Travelling and other expenses

You can also claim for past and future travelling expenses to and from appointments for treatment and any other reasonable out of pocket expenses. You need to ensure that there is medical evidence to support the claim and that you retain all your relevant documentation. For example, if you purchase a new mattress or pillow it is vital that you obtain the approval of your doctor.

A motor vehicle accident can seriously impact many aspects of your life and trying to manage all of your entitlements can be daunting. With an experienced personal injury lawyer by your side that strain is lessened considerably allowing you to fully focus on your recovery.