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More than 1,100 died in 12 months up to October 2021 - a 3.9% increase on the previous period - and nearly 40,000 people were injured, according to official government figures.

Behind every one of those shocking statistics is a devastated family and loved ones left trying to rebuild their lives.

Many grieving relatives are not aware they could be entitled to financial support if they have sustained a psychological injury following a transport accident.

Simonette’s story:

Simonette Randall’s son, Damien Taifer, 21, was driving down a steep descent in a loaded water truck when it veered off the road and flipped, hitting a bank. He died at the scene near Noojee, Victoria in May, 2017.

Simonette, 56, now living in Cairns, Queensland, vividly remembers the phone call telling her Damien was dead.

She said: “1:25pm. I'll never forget the time. I get a call from my son – Damien’s elder brother – and he just sounded sad. I said ‘what’s wrong, Tyson?’. And he said, ‘Damien’s dead.’

“And I just started screaming. When I found out it was actually his boss’s fault, it made it more hard to bear.” She added: “It’s so important to hold people and organisations to account – I don’t want another family to go through what we have.”

The tragedy devastated Simonette. Her grief was made even worse when she discovered Damien’s employer’s role in the crash.

Valley Sweep Pty Ltd, and its director, Anton Zakic, had failed to maintain the brakes on the truck. In October, 2020, they were convicted of failing to maintain the truck’s braking system and were fined a total of $466,000.

She is now pursuing legal action against Valley Sweep for the psychological injury she suffered.

What legal support is available for psychological injuries?

If you have suffered a diagnosable psychiatric injury following a road death or injury in Victoria, you may be entitled to make a claim against the Transport Accident Commission, commonly referred to as a “nervous shock” claim

A ‘transport accident injury’ means physical or mental injury, and includes nervous shock suffered by a person who was directly involved in the transport accident, or who witnessed it or its immediate aftermath.

It is important to note that a relative or loved one may be entitled to issue a claim even if they did not witness the incident.

Who is entitled to claim?

"Nervous shock” claims are available to people who sustain psychological injury and were:

  • involved in the transport accident.
  • witnessed the transport accident.
  • or involved in immediate aftermath – often where there is a pre-existing relationship with the deceased.
     

What potential entitlements are available?

  • Medical and like expenses – psychological expenses such as counselling, medication.
  • Loss of earning benefits – weekly payments for time required off work.
  • Impairment benefit claim – lump sum compensation if permanent impairment.
  • Common Law claim – lump sum compensation if there is negligence.
     

If you are a child or partner of the deceased you may also be entitled to additional entitlements through a dependency claim for compensation.

Are there time limits?

Time limits do apply to making a claim. Under normal circumstances, you have one year from the date of injury, or from the date on which the injury first manifested itself, to make a claim with the Transport Accident Commission.

However, this can be extended to three years if Transport Accident Commission accepts reasonable grounds for a delay in making a claim.

A bereavement or serious injury following a traffic collision can cause serious and long-term psychological harm.

It is important to know you are not alone, understand your rights and seek support if needed and available.

Our road injury work

Our specialist road injury lawyers are experienced in a range of claims related to road accident injuries. If you've been hurt on the road, we can help you understand your options. 

It doesn't cost you anything to know where you stand 

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