People can be injured in a variety of situations. Most commonly, the injuries people suffer are physical but injuries can also be psychological in nature. There are laws in Victoria, personal injury laws, which provide certain entitlements and compensate people who have been injured in a variety of situations or different settings. The instances in which you might have an entitlement to benefits or compensation in Victoria include:
You may be asking yourself whether or not you have a claim for compensation given your individual circumstances. You may believe that someone else was to blame for your injuries. If this is the case, you should seek legal advice from a lawyer who specialises in personal injuries law. A lawyer will be able to assess whether you have rights or entitlements under the various Victorian compensation schemes, particularly if your injuries were caused by someone else's actions or neglect.
The most import thing to remember however is do not delay. Strict time limits apply in respect of accessing potential entitlements and claiming compensation and you should seek legal advice as early as possible after you sustain injury.
Quite apart from being injured in a transport accident or at work, you may have sustained injury in a variety of other circumstances as outlined above - for example, as a result of medical treatment, in a private or public place, etc.
Depending upon the circumstances of how you sustained injury, you might have other rights or entitlements, particularly if the injury/injuries you sustained are likely to cause ongoing, permanent impairments or conditions. Often, the right to claim compensation for your actual injuries, as compared to out-of-pocket expenses associated with your injury/injuries, such as medical and treatment expenses and income loss, is reliant upon showing that the injury/injuries sustained satisfy a certain threshold level. The thresholds change depending on the type of claim and the nature of the injury, e.g. physical vs psychological.
Often, to be eligible to make a claim, the first pre-requisite is to show that someone else was at fault or negligent in causing your injury/injuries. Fault or negligence is fundamental to any medical negligence claim or public/occupiers liability claim. However, in other instances, the concept of fault is not a pre-requisite, for example, product liability claims and Victims of Crime Applications. Because the particular circumstances surrounding your injury will have a bearing on the type of claim you might be entitled to make, it is always advisable that you seek advice from a lawyer specialising in personal injuries law at first instance, to clarify your rights and provide you with an understanding of what to expect moving forward.
There are special laws that apply to injury or damage caused by animals, injuries to animals and injuries sustained in sport, on private property or on public property. Sometimes the common principles do not apply in these circumstances.
WARNING: Information from interstate web sites should not be relied upon without legal advice. The law and courts often vary a lot between States.
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In Victoria, most people who sustain injury are either injured as a result of a transport accident or at work. The majority of Victorian residents either injured in a transport accident or at work (in the course of their employment), will have a range of entitlements under one of the relevant statutory schemes being either the Transport Accident Scheme or the WorkCover scheme.
The Transport Accident Scheme is administered by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and offers a range of no-fault benefits for those injured as a result of a transport accident. The no-fault benefits which are available to injured persons include coverage of medical and related expenses, income support for a total period of 3 years (and beyond in certain circumstances) and possible lump sum compensation for permanent impairment resulting from an accident victims injuries. All of these benefits are available regardless of whose fault the accident was, but there are some restrictions and exceptions to receipt of certain benefits if criminal activity was involved, etc.
In addition to the no-fault benefits available to transport accident victims, in certain circumstances, injured persons may also be eligible to make a common law claim. To be eligible for common law, an injured person must first show that the accident was caused by the fault or negligence of another party, usually another motorist or road user, but in some circumstances other third persons. In addition to being able to show that there was fault on the part of another party, to be eligible to make a common law claim, an injured person must also show that their accident related injury/injuries reach a particular threshold, being a "serious injury" threshold established under the governing legislation - the Transport Accident Act 1986.
An injured person who qualifies for common law will be entitled to claim for pain and suffering damages as well as pecuniary/economic loss damages, with certain limitations and restrictions.
The WorkCover scheme in Victoria is administered by the Victoria Workcover Authority (VWA) and also offers a range of no-fault benefits to those persons injured at work or in the course of their employment. The no-fault benefits available to injured persons under WorkCover are very similar to the Transport Accident Scheme and include coverage of medical and related expenses, income support and lump sum compensation for permanent impairment. Again, there are some restrictions and exceptions to receipt of certain benefits in certain circumstances.
Again, similar to the Transport Accident Scheme, in addition to the no-fault benefits available, injured workers may also be eligible for a common law claim if they can show that the injuries were caused by either the fault or negligence of a third party, often their employer but other third parties in certain instances. Again, in addition to being able to prove fault on the part of another person, the injured worker must also show that their accident related injury/injuries meet the "serious injury" threshold, as established by the Accident Compensation Act 1985.
Both the Transport Accident and WorkCover Schemes, provide a range of benefits and support for injured accident victims, however, they are complex schemes and strict time limits apply to the recovery of benefits in some instances. As such, if you have suffered an injury as a result of a transport accident or at work, you should make inquiries with a lawyer who is a specialist in the field, as early as possible, to ensure that you understand your rights and have an awareness of relevant time frames and limits.
Financial Ombudsman Service is an independent service that assists consumers to resolve their disputes with insurance companies.
Problems with insurance - a Guide.
Foolkit thanks Clara Davies of Burt & Davies: Personal Injury Lawyers for her generous assistance with this page.
All of the firm are Personal Injury Law Specialists and Clara is President of the Australian Lawyers Alliance.
Their web site has a good collection of useful information sheets on TAC claims.
When you go along to see your lawyer, save time (and money) by bringing along the following:
Don't wait too long to contact a lawyer to find out about your compensation rights. Time limits apply to all types of claims!
In respect of transport accident claims or WorkCover claims, it is often thought that the time limit that applies is 6 years. Whilst there is a 6 year time limit which applies, to either receive a lump sum impairment benefit, commence a serious injury application or commence common law proceedings, there are other relevant time frames which are equally as important. For example, there are strict time limits which apply to the actual lodging of claims under the statutory schemes. There is a 12 month time limit. If the claim is not lodged within that time, then eligibility to all entitlements, no-fault or common law, may be lost!
In other areas, for example medical negligence, public/occupiers liability and product liability, a 3 year time limits applies.
A lawyer who is a specialist in the area of personal injury law can talk to you about the time limits which are relevant to your particular matter. It is important to not delay and seek some preliminary advice as soon as you are able to do so.
In some instances, if you have missed a deadline, there is the ability to seek an extension of time through the Courts. It is not automatic that the Courts will extend time, but in certain circumstances it is possible. Often, an application to extend time is costly and very involved. Nevertheless, a lawyer who specialises in this area will be able to advise you of the relevant considerations and assist to steer your in the right direction.