Personal injury FAQs

You may have been injured at work, or in a car accident, or in some other way and want to know more about making a claim. Here some frequently asked questions are briefly answered. You should get legal advice about your specific situation.

Legal Aid WA does not give legal advice or representation in court for personal injury claims. Many private lawyers offer legal advice and representation for these claims. The Law Society of WA has a directory of members you can use to find a lawyer who specialises in this area.

 What is personal injury?

Personal injury is a term used to refer to physical or psychological harm or injury. Psychological or mental harm is sometimes referred to as "nervous shock". There are specific legal rules about what kind of psychological injury a person can claim damages for. Get legal advice.

There are different laws covering:

  • work injuries
  • injuries from motor vehicle accidents
  • injuries suffered by victims of crime
  • other personal injuries.

These laws set strict time limits and requirements for making a personal injury claim.

What are damages?

'Damages' is the term used for monetary compensation awarded to the injured person.

The aim of compensation is to put the injured person back, as far as possible, to the position they would have been in if they had not suffered the injury.

For some injuries there is specific legislation that awards compensation. For example, for injuries as a result of a criminal offence, and for work-related injuries.

Sometimes the person injured must seek compensation directly from the person who caused the injury. This may involve negotiation and settlement or starting a court action.

Many personal injury matters settle by agreement even after the court action has been commenced.

Are there limits on the amount of damages?

If the injury occurred after 1 January 2003 the law in Western Australia places limits on the amount of damages that can be awarded. For example, there is a restriction where your claim is for non-monetary (sometimes called pecuniary) damages. Non-monetary damages are for things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life. Get legal advice.

Do time limits apply?

Yes. These vary in different situations. Get legal advice about the time limits that apply in your case.

If I think may have a personal injury claim, what should I do?

If you think you may have a claim for personal injuries, you should get legal advice.

If I have a personal injury claim and I have been offered a settlement, what should I do?

You should get legal advice before accepting an offer of settlement.

What ifhave been exposed to asbestos?

The National Asbestos Exposure Register has been set up by the Australian Government. The register is designed to record information if you think you may have been exposed to materials containing asbestos including::

  • your personal details
  • details of the suspected asbestos exposure, including date, location, and description and
  • details of diagnoses of asbestos-related disease/s.

This information may be used to contact you to provide information about asbestos safety and related activities and events and may be used for research purposes in a way that does not identify you.

If you think you may have been exposed to materials containing asbestos register your details online on the National Asbestos Exposure register website. You can find out more information on the Asbestos and Silica Safety and Eradication Agency website.

What if I have been exposed to silica dust?

The Asbestos and Silica Safety and Eradication Agency website has information about silica dust and the diseases silica dust is associated with.

The Department of Energy, Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety website also has information on silica and risk management in its use.

Last reviewed: 30 January 2024




The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.