Officials in Victoria are directing everyone to stay at home in order to stop the spread of coronavirus. If you have been in a transport accident, you may already be confined to your home for weeks or even months as you recover from your injuries.
Before we go further, please understand that a transport accident includes:
- A car accident
- A truck accident
- Other motorised vehicles as defined in the TAC legislation
- An accident while you are on a train
- An accident when you are on a bus
When you are stuck indoors, it is only natural to be concerned about how you’re going to pay for your household expenses when you are not getting your full wages from the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), how soon you can return to work, can I get the physical support needed for the home now, can I get support for my recovery while still at home, what is going to happen to me if I cannot recover to the level I was before, and a whole lot more.
As you sit at home trying to recover from your transport accident, there are steps you can take already to start not only pursuing your common law compensation but also getting detailed advice as to what support you are entitled to under the TAC legislation right now.
If you wish to have someone on your side now, reviewing your TAC benefits, looking for what more can be offered to you now, and planning out your successful compensation claim (which includes ensuring all vital evidence is gathered and safeguarded now), contact Henry Carus + Associates at 03 9001 1318 for a free review of your TAC claim. Our firm provides expert personal injury legal support to those injured in the greater Melbourne area and throughout the State of Victoria.
Understanding the TAC Claims Process
If you or a loved one was injured or you lost a family member in a road accident in Victoria, the TAC will be involved in your claim. The TAC is a Victorian government agency who has a number of roles within the Victorian community, and one of them is providing multiple benefits to transport accident victims and their families simply because a transport accident has occurred.
To be eligible for compensation through the TAC, you must:
- Be in a transport accident or be injured by way of transport accident, as a bystander or a member of the family
- Make a claim within 1 year of the accident or the date that your injuries should reasonably have become apparent to you, or within 3 years of the date of the accident or when you first became aware of any injury – whichever is sooner
If you satisfy these two requirements, you can submit your claim to the TAC.
It is very important to note that you are not required to be injured at all to submit your claim.
You can simply be in an accident, and the 1-year requirement to make a claim is triggered. This is extremely important, as the TAC legislation is the only legislation in the State of Victoria that has an absolute cut-off of access to any benefits or common law compensation if a TAC claim is not validly submitted within the time frames provided.
As you can see from the wording of these requirements and the comments that follow above, the legislation can be complicated. You really should be contacting our firm as soon as you are involved in a transport accident. Many persons think they are OK after an accident and then only years later find themselves with an injury that gets progressively worse, affecting various aspects of their life.
Our firm can still be of assistance seeking to find a way to get a TAC claim submitted and accepted, but it is much easier if the person had contacted us right from the start so we could guide them in how to submit the claim and what needs to be said at that time to protect their interests into the future.
So, we strongly suggest that before you submit a claim you contact Henry Carus + Associates.
Our lawyers have unparalleled, specialised experience in TAC car accident claims. We know the legislation, and we strive to pursue the maximum compensation you need and the lifetime benefits you deserve for serious injuries.
How Do I Make a TAC Claim?
TAC claims can be made online or over the phone. The agency is currently encouraging online claims in order to avoid overwhelming its call centre representatives.
The TAC requires you to submit the following information as part of lodging your claim:
- Where the accident occurred
- The circumstances of the accident
- Your injuries
- Names for the drivers and passengers of any cars involved
- Registration numbers for all vehicles
- The police officer who responded to the scene or took your accident report at a later date
- Where the police officer is stationed
- Names and contact information for witnesses to the accident
- The name of your doctor or other health provider who has been treating you since the accident
- Details of your employment and lost wages, if you have missed more than 5 days of work as a result of your injuries in the accident
- Your banking information
The TAC will review your claim within 21 days of the date you submit it. In the meantime you may receive follow-up communications from a TAC representative with questions about your claim, or you may not hear anything until receiving notice that your claim is accepted or denied.
What Happens If My Claim Is Accepted?
If your claim is accepted, you will receive a TAC claim number that will serve as your “ID” for medical care, communications with the TAC, and other matters related to your case. You will also receive a Claim for Compensation Summary that you should review for accuracy. Within 14 days, you will be required to complete a form authorising the release of information to the TAC concerning your car accident injuries.
The TAC offers a web portal and app, myTAC, where you can make claims for reimbursement, submit paperwork, and more. Given the impact of COVID-19 on all aspects of life in Victoria, it may be worth signing up for and downloading myTAC if you are trying to navigate life after a car accident.
If your claim is accepted, your lawyer at Henry Carus + Associates will act as your advocate to ensure you get all of the compensation and benefits you deserve.
It is important to note that, for many, income support will only be there for up to 3 years.
The situation is different for medical and related expenses – such benefits are in general available for the remainder of your life.
We understand that the impact of your injuries – from pain to physical impairment to mental and emotional effects – can change over time. As such, we look over your immediate needs and advocate to ensure all benefits needed are provided from the outset, and then continue to be your advocate for the remainder of your life, even after your common law claim is finalised.
We strongly believe a TAC injured person should have access to all TAC medical and related benefits as needed. And, if TAC denies that access, we are willing to support our clients for life, most of the time without asking them to pay for any additional legal fees to our firm.
What Happens If My Claim Is Denied?
If your claim is denied, you have 12 months to request a review of the decision at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). If you do not do so within the 12 months, you lose forever the right to have the decision reversed.
We strongly recommend you seek a VCAT review of a decision to deny a claim ASAP.
Our lawyers can lodge the VCAT Application for Review for you and then proceed to advise you on the additional information you will require to have the decision set aside by TAC and your claim accepted. That many times is achieved without any need to go to a VCAT hearing; sometimes a simple phone call with the TAC legal representative achieves that successful outcome.
What About Common Law Car Accident Claims?
The TAC at first instance provides support by way of benefits under a ‘no-fault’ system, where the only requirements are that you have been injured in a transport accident and have a valid TAC claim submitted.
To obtain compensation by way of the normal common law process, you need to establish 2 more requirements:
- That you have suffered a “serious injury” as defined by the TAC legislation and
- There is someone at fault for your accident, either in whole or in part
TAC is required under the legislation to decide at first if a person has suffered a “serious injury”. The legislation defines the term and it has been interpreted by the courts in many decisions. Nowadays, TAC has a process in place for certain documents to be submitted to allow it to make that decision and, if yes, the TAC will grant a serious injury certificate.
When a person injured is at this point looking to see if they are entitled to a serious injury, a specialist personal injury lawyer is really needed. In fact, TAC is many times asked for such certificates by injured persons, and they direct the person injured to seek a specialist personal injury lawyer to assist them.
How one satisfies the definition of “serious injury” is discussed below.
Should the TAC not agree to provide a serious injury certificate, there is a process in the County Court of Victoria to have the Court review and decide whether the injured person is entitled to a serious injury. Many times the TAC along the way of the court proceedings agrees to change its mind and grant the serious injury certificate without a formal hearing.
Once an injured person has a serious injury certificate in hand, attention can be given to the question of fault. In the vast number of serious injury claims, there is a transport accident where the vehicle or vehicles are registered in the State of Victoria and, therefore, the TAC is the insurer of those vehicles.
In those situations, the TAC has at present an informal process of having a conference to see if a fair settlement of the common law claim can be achieved at that time. The common law claim is limited to compensation for:
- Pain and suffering damages, which reflect the loss of quality of life due to the injuries suffered (all of them, and not just the one that was seen as the serious injury)
- Loss of income past (limited in part) and future (calculated using various factors and a legislative formula)
It is important to bear in mind that the TAC is the insurer only of Victorian-registered vehicles and, as such, will have a role in granting you a serious injury certificate but will have no role in common law compensation should you find yourself injured by way of:
- A vehicle registered in another state
- An accident that did not involve another car, but was caused by the condition of the road, either by its maintenance or design
Henry Carus + Associates is well-placed to assist you with such claims based on our experience with other state insurers and with road maintenance and road design claims.
Am I Eligible for a Serious Injury Certificate?
To be eligible for common law compensation after a transport accident, you will need to satisfy having a “serious injury” where it has 2 separate pathways:
- Under the Impairment Benefit process, your impairment assessment for one accident is determined at 30% or more or
- You meet the definition of a “serious injury” as that term is defined in 4 separate categories:
- One is a physical injury of a body part that has a serious long-term impairment of a body function
- Second is a permanent serious disfigurement
- Third is a severe permanent disturbance of a mental state or behaviour
- Fourth is loss of a foetus
When one looks at this area of the law, it is clear that having the expert legal assistance of a specialist personal injury law firm is crucial. Henry Carus + Associates regularly achieves a serious injury certificate for those injured where other legal firms have not been able to do so.
How Henry Carus + Associates Can Help
The coronavirus has led to a massive change in the way we live our lives at this time in Victoria. While we are all very hopeful in getting our lives back to normal soon, most of us understand this may take some time.
That time should not be wasted should you need assistance with any aspect of a TAC claim, be it:
- Lodging your claim now
- Having a review of how your accident happened and ensuring all important evidence is preserved, for example: photos of the accident site or your vehicle, statements from witnesses, or anything else needed
- Gathering medical evidence, such as medical records
- Gathering evidence of your change in earnings before your accident, such as employment records and income tax returns
We cannot emphasize enough how important it is to act as soon as possible after a transport accident has happened.
Some aspects of the TAC claims process can be accomplished entirely at home, such as lodging a claim online, and others with our assistance can easily be achieved by mail, digital, or post, such as seeking medical records and income tax returns. Even gathering statements from witnesses can be done by phone or by the internet at this time. Finally, medical examinations, as needed, can still be accomplished today with many of the medical experts used in TAC matters, who are willing to conduct medical examinations by remote connection.
Like the rest of the world, the Victorian community has never seen anything like COVID-19. That is why it is so important to work with a law firm so experienced with TAC matters that shifting to a digital and remote work life arrangement will not present any problems.
We remain at this time of great social concern here totally able to provide expert legal advice and support to you on all aspects of your TAC claim.
Henry Carus + Associates is available to support you 24/7 if you have been injured in a transport accident of any type – car, truck, train, or bus. Some of our team members are working online, while others are available at our offices in Melbourne and at our other locations throughout Victoria.
Contact Our Transport Accident Lawyers Today
For qualified assistance with TAC and common law compensation claims after a car accident (and also any truck, train, or bus accident), please call 03 9001 1318 or contact us online today. Whether you contact us by phone or online, your information is 100% confidential.
Your initial consultation is FREE and we provide a unique 90-day guarantee of our services*. In addition, if we are not successful for you, there are no legal fees or out-of-pocket costs to pay.
*Details can be provided on request.