Relationship between compensation claims for psychiatric injury and severity of physical injuries from motor vehicle accidents

Med J Aust. 2001 Aug 6;175(3):129-32. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2001.tb143059.x.


Objective: To examine the relationship between compensation claims for psychiatric injury after motor vehicle accidents and physical injuries sustained.

Design: Audit of Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance claims.

Subjects and setting: 559 consecutive CTP claims referred by NRMA Insurance Limited to its sole provider of CTP legal services during a three-month period in 1994 after the claimant had engaged legal representation.

Main outcome measures: Claim for psychiatric injury (any psychiatric disorder excluding traumatic brain injury) supported by a medicolegal report from a psychiatrist, other medical practitioner or psychologist; pre-existing psychiatric disorders; Injury Severity Score; initial treatment setting; hospital stay; percentage of accidents involving loss of consciousness or a death.

Results: 522 claims were eligible for the study; 19.5% (102/522) included a claim for psychiatric injury. A pre-existing depression or anxiety disorder was documented in 11 claims (2.1% of all claims and 3.9% of those claiming psychiatric injury). Only very severe injuries, particularly those involving loss of consciousness, were associated with an increased rate of claims for psychiatric injury.

Conclusions: No association was found between claims for psychiatric injury and severity of physical injuries, except among those most severely injured.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Causality
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Comorbidity
  • Data Collection / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insurance Claim Reporting / statistics & numerical data*
  • Insurance, Accident / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology