Deputy President Lambrick recently handed down the decision in Wilson v Transport Accident Commission  VCAT 1063. The case explored whether the act of colliding with a stationary vehicle while cycling can be considered a “transport accident”.
At the time of the accident, Mr Wilson (a former Teacher) resided on a 23 acre lot in Drysdale, where he operated a farm with his wife. Mr Wilson was a keen cyclist and would regularly partake in leisurely rides with a group of other cyclists.
On 9 July 2014, Mr Wilson participated in a ride with a group of his friends. On his way home he collided with a lawfully parked truck and sustained serious injuries, particularly to his spine.
On 25 July 2014 Mr Wilson submitted a TAC compensation claim. His claim was rejected on the basis that he did not sustain injuries in a “transport accident”, as defined by the Transport Accident Act 1986 (Vic) (“the Act”).
Section (3) of the Act states:
- transport accident means an incident directly caused by the driving of a motor car or motor vehicle, a railway train or a tram.
As the vehicle Mr Wilson collided with was stationary and the ignition off, his case did not fall within the scope of “an incident caused by the driving of a motor car”.
However, Section 3(1A)(c) of the Act provides:
- For the purposes of the definition of transport accident in section 3(1) an incident includes an incident involving a collision between a pedal cycle and a motor vehicle while the cyclist is travelling to or from his or her place of employment
The relevant question for the Tribunal to consider was whether, at the time of the accident, Mr Wilson was travelling to or from his place of employment. Deputy President Lambrick considered the wording of the Act and explained the relevant case law. In order to qualify for compensation under the Act, there must be some clear connection made between ‘travelling’ and the ‘place of employment’. The Tribunal suggested the travel must either commence or end at the place of employment.
If it was found that Mr Wilson was travelling to his place of employment, and not his residence when the accident occurred, he would be entitled to compensation under the Act.
On the facts, the Tribunal reached the conclusion that the ride was entirely recreational in nature. It followed that there could be no connection made between the ride and travel to his place of employment, albeit the intended geographical location was the same.
Unfortunately for Mr Wilson, the decision of the TAC to reject his claim was affirmed and his application ultimately failed. As the purpose of his ride was entirely recreational, for the purposes of the Act, Mr Wilson was not travelling to or from his place of employment.
The case provides an interesting snapshot into the nuances of the TAC legislation and provided an explanation as to the circumstances that give rise to a “transport accident”.