Lack of injury law consultation by Vic Gov
28th Oct 2013
“Lack of stakeholder engagement prior to altering long standing Victorian transport accident injury laws, is likely to lead to a costly increase in mental illness in the community,” the Australia Lawyers Alliance National President, Geraldine Collins, warned today.
Ms Collins was referring to two bills introduced into parliament this month, which look like being passed this week – the Transport Accident Amendment Bill 2013 and the Transport Accident Further Amendment Bill 2013.
“These bills remove rights of the psychologically traumatised and only increase pressure on the vulnerable to prove psychiatric debilitation,” Ms Collins said.
ALA Victorian President, Emily Anderson, agreed, saying the bills abolished the right of children, the disabled, stay at home parents and the elderly from recovering common law damages for severe psychiatric injury.
“They also effectively punish people who did try to return to work by then removing their right to common law damages.
“Unless an injured person is a worker, it is impossible for the proposed definition to be satisfied,” Ms Anderson said.
“The amendments will also exclude the common law for those suffering a psychiatric injury as a result of witnessing the aftermath of an accident. This will preclude all emergency services workers, many of whom witness incredibly horrific scenes post motor accidents, and often in circumstances where they are at considerable risk of suffering physical injury themselves.
They also restrict claimants from being able to obtain independent medico-legal opinions and provisions allow the TAC to override medical practitioners and the courts in assessing impairment. These are extraordinary powers which are extremely concerning,” she said.
“The ALA is disappointed that there has been no consultation whatsoever with key stakeholders, including representatives of the ALA, the Law Institute of Victoria or with practising psychiatrists prior to the introduction of these Bills.
The Commission is really putting the cart before the horse with these bills.
“Just because a psychiatric injury isn’t as visible as an external physical injury doesn’t make it less debilitating,” Ms Anderson said.