Public Transport Accident Compensation: What Are You Entitled To?

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Have you been involved in an accident where one of the vehicles is a mode of public transport? In the state of Victoria, you have the ability to be recompensed for an injury you may have sustained in a public transport accident.

Victoria has established the Transport Accident Commission (“TAC”) through a piece of legislation known as the Transport Accident Act 1987. The Act provides for a state funded scheme that provides support to those injured and can pay compensation to a person injured in a transport accident or to the family members of someone who dies as a result of that accident. The term transport accident is defined as one arising from the driving of a motor vehicle.

Most persons will be aware that TAC has a role to play whenever someone is injured in a private car accident, be it car, truck or motorcycle. What they do not know is that the same also applies when the accident happens whilst travelling on public transport, such as a train, bus or tram. We will call such an accident for now a public transport accident.

So best to see what you are entitled to when you are injured while riding a train, bus or tram? Below, we will briefly set out the scope of the compensation.

What is a  public ”transport accident”?

For you to be entitled to any support and compensation, the injury has to have arisen as a result of the driving of some motor vehicle, which can be just the way the train, bus or tram is operated on the day, or it can be by contact a public vehicle may make with another motor vehicle. The legislation provides a level of no fault type support simply because the accident has happened and you have been injured. There are no limitations to this initial support under the legislation for anyone injured by reason of the transport accident, and that can mean even a visitor to the state travelling on one of these public forms of transport.

Even though fault is not necessarily relevant to whether or not you receive compensation for your injury, some activity will cause you to be limited in what benefits will be made available to you. If you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs when the incident occurred, if your licence was suspended at the time, or if you drove recklessly and have been charged by Police for that manner of driving, then you are likely to have some of the benefits normally available denied to you.

The timing of the application for compensation is also very important. Your application ought to be made within 12 months of the date of the incident and the filling in of the claim form information can be very important to your future entitlement to benefits and any monetary compensation.  It is useful to seek legal advice from experienced personal injury lawyers as soon as you are injured so that they can make the application for you and do so within the timeframe required.

What will the Transport Accident Commission cover?

So if you are injured in a public transport accident what will the Transport Accident Commission cover?

Medical bills: You can be compensated for medical and other like expenses: the TAC will cover all reasonable medical costs including rehabilitative costs such as physiotherapy or home help, hospital, medical tests necessary, etc. If you are hospitalised overnight as a result of your injuries, then the Transport Accident Commission can cover the costs of medical services that are required thereafter for the rest of your life. If not hospitalized overnight, then the first $599 must be covered by you but anything above that will be reimbursed as provided under the legislation, again for the remainder of your life.

Loss of income: An injury from an accident impacts upon you financially not simply because of medical bills but because it can interrupt or permanently interfere with your ability to work. The TAC will compensate you for certain loss of wages. You may be entitled to a fortnightly payment for loss of earnings for up to 18 months if you are still unable to return to work after 5 working days. If your ability to earn has been significantly impaired even after the 18 months, then you may be entitled to loss of earnings benefits. The loss of earning benefits generally extend for another 18 months unless you have been very seriously injured, and then they can extend for much longer. The amount you may be entitled to varies depending on how much you earn, and your dependents.

Additional benefits:There are other benefits that you may be entitled to such as return to work travel support which compensates you for any costs incurred to assist your travel to and from work. There may be child care costs if your ability to care for your children is hampered. If you were wearing glasses or had other physical aids such as hearing aids, you can be reimbursed for any replacements required.

Your entitlements if you have suffered an injury as a result of a public transport accident are extensive and not necessarily confined to medical bills. It may be very useful for you to consult with a personal injury lawyer who has the experience and know-how to successfully apply for those entitlements on your behalf.