The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) was established by the Transport Accident Act 1986. The Act was set up to compensate injured persons resulting from transport accidents.
If you have been injured in a Transport Accident, you must make a claim with the TAC within one year of the accident. However in exceptional circumstances the TAC can extend this to 3 years.
Entitlement to compensation:
Under the Transport Accident Act, a person injured as a result of a transport accident may be entitled to compensation.
Some exceptions may apply for example where you were racing, drink driving, unlicensed or driving an unregistered vehicle.
Definition of “Transport Accident”
A transport accident is defined as an incident directly caused by the driving of a motor car or motor vehicle, a railway train or a tram.
To be entitled to compensation your injury must also be directly caused by the driving of a motor vehicle, a railway train or a tram.
Definition of “Motor Vehicle”
Motor vehicles include motor cars, motor cycles, trucks and buses that are used, designed or intended to be used on a highway.
A. NO FAULT BENEFITS
1. Loss of earnings ( LOE )
You are entitled to 80% of your pre accident weekly earnings up to the statutory maximum of $1170.
If you remain incapacitated after 18 months and before 36 months post-accident you may be entitled to loss of earning capacity benefits.
Unless you can establish that you suffer from a Whole Person Impairment of 50% or more, weekly payments will cease after 3 years.
2. Medical and like expenses
Medical and like expenses can be defined as expenses relating to reasonable medical treatment and expenses arising as a result of being incapacitated.
In order to qualify for reimbursement of these expenses you must meet the statutory threshold ($584 ) unless you were admitted to a hospital as an inpatient for one day or more in which case the medical excess does not apply.
The medical and like expenses you wish to claim must be seen as reasonable. In most circumstances a letter from your doctor to the TAC outlining the need for treatment will be sufficient.
3. Lump sum compensation
When your injuries are considered substantially stable and a minimum of three months has elapsed since the accident you are entitled to be assessed as to whether you qualify for lump sum impairment benefits.
In order to establish the threshold you need to establish that you have a Whole Person Impairment of 11% or more when assessed in accordance with the 4th Edition of the American Medical Association Guidelines to Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides).
For accidents occurring on or after 16 December 2004 the current statutory minimum for an assessment of 11% Whole Person Impairment is $6,860 with the current maximum being $313,540.
4. Dependency claims
A dependent partner or child of a person who dies as a result of a transport accident is entitled to lodge a claim for compensation. A claim must be made within 1 year of the accident and in exceptional circumstances 3 years.
A dependent is generally considered someone who is wholly or mainly dependent upon the deceased for economic support.
Dependants are currently entitled to weekly payments equivalent to 80% of the deceased’s earnings, up to a maximum of $1,170 gross per week, as well as funeral costs and counselling.
A dependent partner may also be entitled to a one-off lump sum. This benefit ranges between $82,345 and $164,690 depending on the person’s age, family circumstances or any prior impairment payments.
Dependent children : The TAC can pay a one-off lump sum of up to $164,690 to the dependent children. This sum is held with the State Trustees until the children reach the age of 18.
If there is more than one dependent child, this lump sum will be divided equally between the dependent children.
A dependent child is defined as being under 16 years of age, or aged 16 to 25 and a full-time student, but does not include a child who has a spouse or partner.
B. COMMON LAW CLAIMS
A common law claim must be pursued within six years of the date of injury although this can be extended in some circumstances.
In order to be successful with a common law claim you must prove the following elements :
1. Serious Injury
This is a gateway provision. Unless you can establish you have a serious injury you are unable to pursue a common law claim.
Serious injury is defined as follows :
- A 30% or more Whole Person Impairment under AMA 4 – this is called a “deemed” serious injury.
2. A serious long-term impairment or loss of a body function;
3. A permanent serious disfigurement, such as scarring;
4. A severe long-term mental or severe long-term behavioural disturbance or disorder;
5. A loss of a foetus.
When assessing whether you satisfy the definitions under 2. , 3. and 4. a Court will look at how you have been subjectively affected by your injuries. In other words a Court will look at the consequences the injuries have had on you personally.
If you have been assessed as suffering from a serious injury you will then need to establish negligence (at least in part) against another party.
If you are successful with establishing both elements you will be entitled to damages.
Damages compensate you for for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life up to the statutory maximum of $487,100 and economic loss ( loss of earnings ) up to the statutory maximum of $1,096,020.