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Understanding the effect of compensation on recovery from severe motor vehicle crash injuries: a qualitative study
  1. Darnel F Murgatroyd1,
  2. Ian D Cameron1,
  3. Ian A Harris2
  1. 1Rehabilitation Studies Unit, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. 2South West Sydney Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Darnel Murgatroyd, Rehabilitation Studies Unit, Northern Clinical School – Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, PO Box 6, Ryde, NSW 1680, Australia; dmur0062{at}


Objective To explore the factors that influence recovery from serious injuries sustained in motor vehicle crashes, particularly differences between those with compensable and non-compensable injuries.

Design and setting Qualitative study using grounded theory and focus group methods within the trauma service of a university teaching hospital.

Participants 34 subjects (27 male, 7 female), of whom 21 were participants with a compensation claim and 13 were not. Each had sustained injuries in motor vehicle crashes between two and seven years previously.

Main outcome measure Themes identified from transcripts of the focus groups.

Results The themes identified from participants claiming compensation were a strong sense of entitlement and injustice, a difficult claims and settlement process, an inability to move on with life during the claims process, an extreme dislike of medico-legal assessments, the necessity of legal representation to assist with the claims process, and a perceived lack of trust about having to prove an injury or disability. The themes common to all participants were the significance of the trauma experience, the importance of family and social support, and, if self-employed, financial hardship and difficult experiences in returning to work.

Conclusions The injury recovery experience was difficult for all subjects, but it was particularly stressful for those claiming compensation. Based on this study, the claims process, particularly medico-legal examinations, and other factors that could impact on injury recovery, are targets for further research, possible policy review, or legislative change.

  • Compensation
  • injury
  • qualitative methods
  • driver
  • fracture
  • passenger
  • pedestrian
  • qualitative

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the Sydney South West Area Health Service Human Research Committee and University of Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.