Important and humane changes to help crash victims

22 October 2015
Road trauma victims across Victoria will stand a better chance of getting their lives back on track thanks to restrictive and inhumane laws limiting or abolishing access to life-changing compensation being repealed by the Victorian Andrews Labor Government.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has campaigned strongly since 2013 against the introduction of the restrictive laws, which were rushed through the Parliament by the then Napthine Liberal Government, so news of a Bill to reverse the laws is welcomed by the firm.

Road trauma specialist at Maurice Blackburn, Geraldine Collins, said the laws introduced under the previous government stripped away the legal rights of Victorian road trauma victims who suffered psychological injury after a collision.

“When these inhumane laws were introduced, it inflicted the biggest assault by a government on road trauma victims that we’d seen in more than 20 years,” Ms Collins said.

“The announcement by Finance Minister Robin Scott that he has tabled a Bill to reverse the Liberals’ October 2013 amendments to the Transport Accident Act 1986 is a vital move to restoring the rights of people who are experiencing life-altering trauma.

“The 2013 legislation was about profits, not people, and it flies in the face of the important leaps we as a community are making in identifying and supporting those with mental illness, which of course leads to other problems and costs to the health system and other services if left untreated

“The amendments were made without consultation and were heavily criticised by the medical profession involved in the treatment of those with psychological injuries.”

Ms Collins urged the Upper House to endorse the Bill as a priority, including the important aspect of retrospectivity, in particular regards to:

  • Retrospective removal of the tightening of the psychological serious injury test;
  • Retrospective removal of the abolition of nervous shock common law claims; and,
  • Removal of the assault to the separation of powers doctrine introduced by the Guides Modification provision.

“The fact that the Andrews government is making the changes retrospective is critical for the principles of justice. It means all accident victims will have the same access to the law, instead of being prohibited from accessing compensation simply because of the date of their accident,” Ms Collins said.

“This issue should be about people, not profits, and all Victorians should be thankful that the Andrews Labor Government is delivering on this very important election commitment to preserve the rights of those who are victims of road trauma.”

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