Published: 06 June 2018
Author: Creon Coolahan
Compensation for injury resulting from a road rage incident
Road rage is becoming an all-too-common hazard on Victorian roads. Long commutes, disruptive road works right across the metropolitan area and regional road area (although long overdue in regional areas), and the daily pressures of the work environment seem to be all taking their toll on road users’ concentration and tolerance.
It is a common misconception that unless you have been involved in an actual collision involving a motor vehicle you have no entitlement to compensation. In fact, if you have been involved in a near-miss incident and suffer an injury as a consequence you can make a Transport Accident Commission (TAC) claim if the incident was directly caused by the driving of a motor car, motor vehicle, railway train or a tram. The TAC can pay compensation in the form of income support, medical and allied health treatment costs, a potential lump sum if you suffer a permanent impairment from your injuries, and damages for pain and suffering and loss of earnings if you sustain a “serious injury”.
What are your remedies if the near-miss incident, or an actual collision, result in you being brought into fear of an actual physical assault, or if you are actually physically assaulted, as the result of road rage?
In addition to the above “near miss” scenario, the Transport Accident Act 1986 (Vic) (which governs the TAC scheme) also provides for compensation for those who suffer “nervous shock” as the result of either:
a) being directly involved in a transport accident, or
It is yet to be tested whether suffering an injury (being either a physical injury or “nervous shock”) as the result of being assaulted by another driver or passenger from another vehicle, or witnessing another driver or passenger being assaulted, as the consequence of a road rage incident in the immediate aftermath of a “transport accident” gives rise to an entitlement under the TAC scheme.
In our view it is certainly arguable that you have an entitlement to compensation under the TAC scheme in any of those circumstances.
Is it worth making a claim in relation to road rage?
In any event, someone who is injured as the consequence of an act of violence committed against them – or who is present at the scene of an act of violence and who is injured as a direct result of witnessing that act – will usually be entitled to crimes compensation under the Victims of Crime Assistance Act 1996 (Vic).
Indeed, it is worthwhile making a claim under both the TAC scheme and the Crimes Compensation scheme as there are certain entitlements that the TAC scheme may not provide for (such as a lump sum for permanent impairment with your level of impairment is less than 11% of the whole person, or the first five days’ lost income if you are injured and cannot work) which may be picked up by the Crimes Compensation scheme.
You are required by both the TAC and Crimes Compensation legislation referred to above to make a formal report to the police as a pre-requisite to making a claim under either scheme (although there are some limited exceptions to this requirement under the Crimes Compensation legislation).
Above all, be safe, be courteous and avoid trouble on the roads. If you are unfortunate enough to be the victim of a road rage incident contact the police and a lawyer straight away.