Vic's accident victims will suffer if new bill passes – ALA
17th Oct 2013
The Australian Lawyers Alliance is concerned that a Bill, before the Victorian Parliament, is changing the definition of what it means to have suffered a serious psychiatric injury. It appears the intent is to save the Transport Accident Commission money at the expense of injured people.
“Since 1987, to bring a common law claim, you must have a whole person impairment of at least 30% or have a “serious injury”. This includes long-term impairment or loss of a body function; permanent serious disfigurement; severe long-term mental or severe long-term behavioural disturbance or loss of a foetus,” Australian Lawyers Alliance National President, Geraldine Collins, said.
“The amendment introduced yesterday seeks to alter the definition of what constitutes a serious injury for psychiatric injuries. The intention is to further restrict people with these injuries from being able to access compensation,” Ms Collins said.
“TAC is just being paranoid about psychological claims because they are not as easy to recognise as a broken arm or leg, but the courts, through case law, have interpreted to weed out false claims for more than 25 years. The definition of what constitutes psychological injury is well established,” she said.
“The Minister’s explanation that it is to “clarify the definition” is an absolute nonsense. It just makes the whole process more complex and harsh and unjust. Someone may have a severe injury over many years, with fluctuations. This person will now be precluded from seeking compensation.
What this bill is doing is creating a sub-class of injured people, based on the tortfeasor. For some with psychological injuries as a result of an accident, claims for such injuries will be allowed provided the claim isn’t against TAC,” Ms Collins said.
“How can this be justified as anything but an attempt to protect the TAC’s coffers, yet it made a profit of $973 million in the 2012-13 financial year.
Additionally, the changes are retrospective, affecting those who have suffered their injuries already. This is completely contrary to the normal practices of responsible government,” she said.