The Transport Accident Commission has confirmed its intention to change the existing process of awarding compensation to people who have suffered an injury to their back or neck as a result of a transport accident.
At present, anyone who has sustained an injury in a transport accident can potentially access lump sum compensation regardless of whether they were at fault for the accident. In order to access this compensation, the injured person must establish that their injuries are permanent and are stable - that is, they will not get substantially better or worse in the foreseeable future.
The legislation also requires that the injuries are assessed as more than 10% of the injured party's whole person. This assessment is conducted by specifically qualified medical specialists trained in accordance with the Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment published by the American Medical Association (the AMA Guides ).
In October 2013, the Victorian Government introduced amendments to the Transport Accident Act which allowed the TAC to publish policies which overruled the contents of the AMA Guides. The TAC has recently confirmed that it intends to use these amendments to override certain sections of the AMA Guides pertaining to spinal injuries.
Under the proposed policy, the TAC would redefine the term fracture for spinal injuries, and would alter the way particular spinal injuries are categorised. This potentially reduces the whole person impairment assessment for a person who has suffered a spinal injury as a result of a road trauma. In some cases, this can mean a reduction of available compensation or potentially even disentitling someone altogether if the reduced figure puts them at 10% or less.
The TAC is currently calling for comments on the proposed policy, with submissions due by the end of July 2014.
Suffering an injury as a result of a transport accident can have serious consequences for the victim and their family. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury as a result of a road trauma, we invite you to contact one of our personal injury experts on (03) 9321 9988.