When assessing damages for motor accident claims after 1 December 2017, injured claimants may have claims for non-economic loss or pain and suffering if they are assessed with whole person impairment (WPI) which is greater than 10 % WPI, that is 11% WPI and above.
Non-economic loss if awarded in a motor accident claim will greatly increase the damages recoverable by a claimant.
The legislation that applies to accidents that occur after 1 December 2017 is covered under the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 (NSW) (the Act).
This WPI assessment is to be made in accordance with Part 6 of the Motor Accident Guidelines which are published by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA).
When assessing WPI, the medical professional must follow these steps:
1. Causation of Injury – that is, the medical professional must be satisfied that the subject motor accident caused the injuries that they are assessing;
2. The impairment and disability the claimant is suffering as a result of the Injury;
3. Make an assessment of the degree of impairment; and
4. Make an assessment on whether the impairment will improve, is permanent or will have degenerative changes.
Part of the Motor Accident Guidelines dictates that when calculating WPI, the medical professional must use the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, Fourth Edition (AMA4). This guide includes tables that calculate the appropriate assessment of WPI.
The WPI assessment can be cumulative by assessment of multiple injuries across multiple areas of the body. For example, if a claimant injures their right arm and their spine, a medical professional can assign a WPI assessment for their arm, and an assessment for their spine. These will be added together using the ‘Combined Values” chart found in the AMA4.
If the claimant’s medical professional assesses the claimant of having a WPI above the threshold for non-economic loss, but the insurer’s medical professional assesses the claimant as having a WPI below the threshold, then the matter will proceed to the Medical Assessment Service which is an independent assessor who will provide an authoritative assessment on whether the claimant passes the threshold.
In any motor vehicle accident claim please contact Longton Legal.