Published: 30 September 2015
Author: Ryan Carlisle Thomas
TAC payouts for mental injury restricted by tight tests
Harsh amendments to the Transport Accident scheme introduced by the Napthine Liberal Government are still in force, even though condemned at the time by the then opposition leader Daniel Andrews.
In 2013, the Victorian Government made changes to the Transport Accident scheme which thwarted the rights of many transport accident victims suffering from major psychological injury.
The Transport Accident Amendment Bill 2013 created a stricter test to qualify for common law compensation that applies only to those claiming severe psychiatric injury. Under the new test a person must have suffered from the mental disorder for a continuous period of at least 3 years during which time the condition has not responded to known effective clinical treatments. A patient must also show a severe impairment in relationships and social and vocational functioning.
The restrictions have made it harder for those suffering from the psychological effects of trauma to pursue compensation for pain and suffering and loss of income. The measures unfairly discriminate against people suffering from mental injury.
The changes have also restricted access to common law compensation for those who have witnessed the aftermath of a transport accident and have as a result suffered psychological trauma.
Emergency service workers, ambos and police hit
Sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and nervous shock are now denied common law compensation if the car accident was the result of a suicide attempt or if the injured or deceased person was predominately negligent in causing the accident.
These amendments have hit some of Victoria’s most valued employees such as emergency service workers, ambulance workers, police, and paramedics. For example, an ambulance worker who has suffered PTSD as a result of attending a horrific car accident scene may simply be excluded from seeking compensation.
The laws have created an arbitrary distinction where an emergency services worker suffering psychological injury will have their right to compensation determined by whether or not the accident was a suicide or a tragic accident. This makes no sense.
Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews was a passionate critic of these unfair changes when they were introduced in 2013, labelling the cuts “cruel” and “mean”, and called on Mr Napthine to scrap the legislation.
However, nearly 12 months after being elected to office, the Labor Government has yet to repeal these laws. In the meantime, more people will suffer without recourse to just compensation.
The Andrews government needs to keep their election promise and immediately repeal these harsh laws and give victims back the right to claim just compensation.