ALA concerned over Finance Minister's comments on green slip reform
19th Feb 2013
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has expressed serious concern about the latest media release from the Minister for Finance and Services today regarding green slip reform.
Speaking on behalf of the ALA, Jnana Gumbert, President of the NSW Branch of the Alliance, said, "It is very concerning to see statement after statement from the Minister and Premier bashing lawyers but ignoring the real issue, which is that the proposed changes strip rights away from innocent accident victims.”
“At present, innocent victims of car accidents recover their full loss of wages and payments for assistance they need with domestic tasks from family and friends. If a badly injured child requires a parent to take six months off work to look after them, then appropriate compensation is paid. If a wage earner cannot work, then appropriate compensation is paid,” Ms Gumbert said.
“The proposed scheme slashes the badly-needed compensation that accident victims currently receive. The Minister has cut benefits from the innocent victims of accidents in order to pay benefits to those who caused the accidents.
“Why should the innocent victim of an accident have to sacrifice their rights so that the driver who caused the accident can get compensation?” Ms Gumbert queried.
Ms Gumbert said the proposed scheme changes meant accident victims wouldn’t be given legal assistance.
“The MAA’s own internal studies show that unrepresented claimants receive less compensation than those who are legally represented. That’s hardly surprising considering that insurance companies have highly experienced claims officers and lawyers handling cases. It’s just not fair to expect injured people to battle big insurance companies by themselves,” she said.
“The Motor Accidents Authority released a discussion paper regarding so-called ‘reforms’ to the CTP Scheme, on 17 February 2013. If you look at the statistics contained in that paper, it is clear that the Minister is just wrong when he says that ‘less than 50 cents of every dollar paid in premiums actually goes to those who are hurt’. And this is using the Minister's own statistics.
"Furthermore, the Minister's statement that ‘it’s not unusual to see lawyers making more money than those they represent’ has no basis in reality. The statistics contained in the MAA report show that just 12% of money from premiums goes to paying legal and investigative costs, and that includes the costs of the insurers' lawyers and the insurers' investigators. The actual percentage of money that goes to the injured people's lawyers is about 5%, which is only one-tenth of the money that goes to the injured people.
"So where is the money going? 50 % goes to the injured, 5% goes to their lawyers, and a total of 35% of the money within the scheme goes to the insurers - 16% for their costs, and 19% in pure profit. These are the cold hard facts,” Ms Gumbert said.