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Published: 20 October 2017
Author: Tom O'Grady

Welcome news on transport accident legislation

Victorians injured in a transport accident will, thanks to the Andrews’ State Government, no longer be out-of-pocket for any health and medical treatment expenses associated with any injuries arising from transport accidents under proposed new legislation introduced into Victorian Parliament this week.

This is big news in law and good news for our clients

As it presently stands, those injured in transport accidents are required to pay the first $651 of medical expenses associated with the transport accident related injuries, and must submit these accounts to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) to prove the excess has in fact been paid, before the TAC will 'pick up the bill'. The current scheme works very much like any insurance policy does in that the claimant must pay an excess in order to access the benefits payable under the insurance policy.

The medical excess under the current transport accident scheme has been a confusing issue for claimants, particularly those that visited, and have been treated, in Victorian public hospitals. It has also been a financial burden for claimants, some of whom may simply have not persisted with appropriate treatment because they cannot afford the excess.

What is a 'transport accident'?

There are many scenarios that may constitute a transport accident. The Transport Accident Act 1986 (Vic) defines the term as meaning “an incident directly caused by the driving of a motor car or motor vehicle, a railway train or tram”. If you happen to suffer injury in these circumstances, you should be making a claim to TAC and this proposed new legislation will directly affect you.

Who will benefit? 

This new legislation is set to benefit more than 13,000 people injured in transport accidents in Victoria each year. It is likely to assist those injured in transport accidents in getting on with their recovery sooner rather than later, and not having to worry about proving that they have paid the initial $651 to TAC, and the associated bureaucracy that goes with it.

It remains unclear at this stage whether the changes will be retrospective, but at this early stage it appears the proposed legislation will have a commencement date. Therefore, those injured in transport accidents after a certain date will not have to pay the excess, while those injured before the commencement date will remain out of pocket. 

Government helps claimants get a fair go 

We congratulate the Andrews’ Government and the TAC on the introduction of this proposed new legislation. It brings the transport accident scheme into line with the WorkCover scheme in Victoria, where injured workers too are not out of pocket for any medical expenses associated with work-related injuries.

The new and proposed legislation comes on the back of significant research that identified the medical excess as a cause in hindering claimants’ recoveries from transport accident-related injuries.

At Ryan Carlise Thomas and Stringer Clark we are driven by giving Australians from all walks of life a fair go. This legislation reflects exactly that.