The Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal (Other) is designed to provide assistance to victims of acts of violence. Sometimes a car accident can involve an act of violence, for example where the car is used as a weapon or the driver is driving dangerously or culpably. For Other to accept a claim arising from a car accident, it must be satisfied that the relevant act of violence was a crime capable of punishment by imprisonment. A driver does not need to be charged with an offence for an award to be made. Other can award assistance if they are satisfied that the driver's actions were intentional, reckless, dangerous or culpable driving. Driving a motor vehicle at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public having regard to all the circumstances of the case and causing serious injury or death is punishable by imprisonment, even if the driver did not mean to harm anyone. The following examples represent cases where either the offender entered a plea of guilty or the Court found that the conduct was dangerous driving:
- A 70 year old man driving on a country road with the sun in his eyes and trees obstructing his view of the intersection approached a give way sign. He'stopped or slowed sufficiently to change into first gear at about the point where the give-way sign is located and, seeing no traffic on the intersecting road, proceeded into the intersection at a speed that the police analysts calculated to be 16 kilometres per hour.' Another vehicle was driving through the intersection at a speed the police calculated at 103 kilometres an hour. The 70 year old did not see the other vehicle until the moment of collision. The front of the 70 year old's car clipped the driver's side of the other vehicle at about the back door, causing it to spin and then roll many times.
- A driver approaching an intersection failed to notice that a large truck and trailer, which was travelling ahead of him in the same direction, was slowing down to make a left-hand turn. He attempted to avoid the truck by braking suddenly and moving towards the left. His vehicle veered partially onto the grass shoulder before he steered it to the right, travelling over the centre line. It collided with the front driver's side of a van travelling in the opposite direction. The collision pushed the van off the road, where it rolled and finished on its side.
- At a point where the road narrowed from three lanes into two, a driver failed to merge, and instead drove his vehicle along a dedicated bicycle lane. He struck a cyclist from behind.
- A driver, unaffected by alcohol or drugs, travelling at about the speed limit and not using his mobile phone, drifted across double white lines several times before colliding head-on with another vehicle. The Court found he had been working two jobs in the week before the collision, and had worked five shifts at each job. On the day before the accident he had worked more than 13 hours and had had, at most, five and a half hours' sleep. This was dangerous driving because he either'zoned out' or was sufficiently fatigued to require him to pull over and he did not do so.
In each of these cases, the person injured or relatives of the person killed may be entitled to assistance from both the TAC and from Other. However, the two schemes overlap and getting assistance is much easier when applications are made to the correct organisation. Other will not provide assistance which is available from the TAC, but can 'top up lost earnings by up to $20,000, could provide special financial assistance of up to $10,000 and, in exceptional circumstances, can reimburse expenses which the TAC is not liable for. Other pays all the legal fees associated with an application. Our team has been helping traffic accident victims and victims of crime for over thirty years. Recently our team assisted a family man who was very badly injured in an accident and had to move his family closer to hospital to access treatment. Other awarded $1,600 for removalist costs, $20,000 in lost earnings and $6,000 in special financial assistance to assist our client. If you have been injured by a car, you may be entitled to assistance from both the TAC and Other. Our team can guide you through both schemes and help you navigate the overlap. For more information, contact us on (03) 9321 9988.