What is a "minor injury" under the new Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017

A "minor injury" includes soft tissue injuries and minor psychological or psychiatric injuries.

Once you have made a claim for personal injury benefits under the new Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 which is effective for accidents after 1 December 2017, the insurer will pay weekly payments of compensation (if you are unable to work) and medical expenses for a period of six months.

Within that six month period, the insurer will make a decision in relation to:

  1. Whether or not the motor accident was your fault or the fault of the other driver; and
  2. Whether you have a “minor injury” as defined by the Motor Accident Injuries Act.

You are only entitled to continue to receive weekly payments after 26 weeks if the insurer decides that the injury was not your fault and that you do not have a “minor injury”.

If the insurer decides either that the accident was your fault or that you have a minor injury as defined in the Act then all personal injury benefits cease after 26 weeks and you are not entitled to claim any further compensation.

What is a “minor injury”?

For the purposes of the Act, a “minor injury” is any one or more of the following:

  1. Soft tissue injury
  2. A minor psychological or psychiatric injury.

A soft tissue injury is defined as:-

An injury to the tissue that connects, supports or surrounds other structures or organs of the body (such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, menisci, cartilage, fascia, fibrous tissues, fat, blood vessels and synovial membranes) but not an injury to nerves or a complete or partial rupture of tendons, ligaments, menisci or cartilage.

The Motor Accident Injuries Regulations adds the following:

An injury to a spinal nerve root that manifests in neurological signs (other than radiculopathy) is included as a soft tissue injury for the purposes of the Act.

A minor psychological or psychiatric injury is defined as:

A psychological or psychiatric injury that is not a recognised psychiatric illness.

The Act only commenced on 1 December 2017 and as yet there have been no cases to determine how the medical assessors will determine what is and is not a minor injury.

If you believe you have more than a “minor injury” as defined by the Act, you will need to contact a Lawyer to assist you in disputing this through the dispute resolution system. This application must be made within 28 days of the decision made by the insurer.

Once an application is made you will be referred to an independent medical assessor who will decide whether the injury is a “minor injury” in accordance with the Act.

Should you require assistance with your minor injury, you should contact us as soon as possible.

About Matthew Garling

Matthew Garling, Founder of Garling & Co is a NSW Law Society Accredited Specialist in Personal Injury Law. He specialises in compensation law and has acted on behalf of thousands of injured people in work accidents, motor vehicle accidents and negligence cases over the last 20 years.

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