Victorian cyclists injured in road accidents with stationary vehicles will be able to access much needed Transport Accident Commission (TAC) benefits thanks to legislative changes introduced by the Andrews Labor Government.
In a move commended by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, the Treasury and Finance Bill Legislation Amendment 2018 will close an important loophole by extending TAC benefits to any cyclist injured by accidents with stationary vehicles.
Cyclists have previously only been entitled to TAC support if they were involved in an incident with a moving vehicle, an open or opening car door or a stationary vehicle only when on the way to or from work.
With the increase in the levels of participation in cycling, these important changes will ensure the Victorian cycling community is protected should they suffer injuries in such circumstances.
Importantly, the coverage will be retrospective to 9 July 2014. This means any cyclist injured from that date will be able to lodge a claim and obtain the benefits. The time limit to lodge the claim for compensation, and the statute of limitations for any damages claim, starts running from the commencement date of the Bill.
Geraldine Collins, of the Victorian road injuries team at Maurice Blackburn, welcomed the Bill, which she said was a further step towards the TAC becoming the world’s leading social insurer.
“The Bill introduces important reforms to the Transport Accident Act to improve benefits for injured Victorian road users, who are usually in a very vulnerable situation and facing an uncertain future,” she said.
“It is critical to acknowledge these amendments have come about through a process of government consultation with stakeholders including the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Law Institute of Victoria and the TAC. The Andrews Government should be commended for enabling such an ingenuous approach.”
In addition, the amendments will increase the travel and accommodation allowance for family members to attend hospital when someone is injured, and pay income support to parents who need to be by the bedside of their children injured in road accidents.
Other changes include extending family-related benefits to grandparents and extending dependency benefits for dependent children to those completing an apprenticeship.
The amendments will also relax the requirement on the TAC to reassess an injured person’s level of impairment every five years to determine if they are entitled to ongoing loss of earning capacity benefits. This will significantly reduce the stress and indignity associated with undergoing medical examinations every five years, amid fears their level of impairment benefits will be reduced and payments terminated.
Also under the changes, professional Administrators will now be able to claim expenses incurred in managing the funds paid to the Administrator by the TAC on behalf of any injured person who is unable to manage their own finances. To date, these people have had to bear the costs of such professional services themselves.
The Bill follows other improvements introduced by the Labor Government for Victorians injured in transport accidents, such as the restoration of access to mental injury claims, and the removal of the requirement to pay a medical excess of $651 before the TAC pays for non-hospital treatment.