Lump sum compensation for TAC claims
If you were injured in a car accident in Victoria, or interstate in a Victorian registered vehicle, you are probably entitled to compensation under the Transport Accident Act.
You can also claim injury compensation if:
- injured by a train,
- injured by a tram,
- or injured by an opening car door if riding a bike.
Injury compensation can include payment of:
- your hospital expenses,
- medical expenses,
- and loss of earnings.
If you have sustained a permanent injury, you may also be entitled to lump-sum compensation by way of an impairment benefit and/or by suing for common law damages.
How is impairment assessed for compensation?
Regardless of who caused the accident, you are entitled to a lump sum impairment benefit if your injuries cause a permanent impairment of 11% or more to your whole body.
Impairment is assessed in accordance with an American medical publication known as the AMA Guides/ 4th Edition. Generally, impairment cannot be assessed until 18 months from the date of accident and only then if the medical condition caused by the injury is static and unlikely to change in spite of further medical or surgical treatment.
How do I apply for impairment benefit?
An application for an impairment benefit must be made to TAC within 6 years from the date you became aware of the injury. If no application is made within that time, you may be barred from claiming an impairment benefit.
Do I need a lawyer?
An application for an impairment benefit is generally made with the assistance of a lawyer under the TAC Impairment Protocols and if an impairment is payable, TAC may pay a substantial amount toward your legal costs.
Can I dispute a TAC decision?
If you disagree with TAC's impairment decision you have 12 months in which to have a lawyer lodge an application under the TAC Dispute Resolution Protocols or to lodge an appeal with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. It is strongly recommended that if unsure about a TAC decision, you should immediately seek legal advice.
Suing for Compensation - Common Law Claims
If you are injured as a result of the fault of another driver, you are entitled to sue for compensation if you have a "serious injury".
What is a "serious injury"?
Serious injury is defined by the Transport Accident Act to mean:
(a) your permanent impairment has been caused by your injuries and has been assessed at 30% or more
(b) alternatively, if your impairment has been assessed at less than 30%, the TAC or the Court determine that your injury causes either:
- serious long-term impairment or loss of a body function; or
- permanent, serious disfigurement; or
- a severe long-term mental or behavioural disturbance; or
- loss of a foetus.
Where impairment is less than 30%, the determination of serious injury will involve consideration of the impact of the injuries upon the enjoyment of life and/or work capacity as it affects the individual. For example, the partial loss of an index finger may have minimum impact to the lifestyle of a clerical worker but be devastating for a concert pianist.
How do I apply for a Serious Injury Certificate?
An application for a Serious Injury Certificate is generally made by a lawyer under the TAC Common Law Protocols and, where successful and resulting in the recovery of common law damages, the TAC contribute a substantial portion of legal costs.
In some instances, an application to the TAC for a Serious Injury Certificate can be fast tracked, even if the injuries have not stabilised, where it is obvious the injured person will be left with a serious injury. In such circumstances, TAC can award interim compensation for pain and suffering pending stabilisation of injury.
If a common law claim is to be pursued, legal proceedings must generally be issued within 6 years from the date of accident, otherwise your right to sue for compensation may be lost. There are various ways in which the limitation period can be extended which would require expert advice from a lawyer.