Published: 30 May 2016
Author: Peter Claven
Everything you need to know about TAC and injury
Can I sue the other driver for a serious road injury?
If you’ve suffered a serious injury in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of another driver, you may be able to claim a second lump sum, in addition to your impairment lump sum, previously discussed here.
The second (potential) lump sum is called a common law claim for damages.
The payment is for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, it may also include compensation for financial loss resulting from the accident.
In order to succeed, a person needs to show that they have a ‘serious injury’, and that another party was at fault for the accident.
The size of lump sum payments for common law damages can vary significantly.
For example, the maximum amount that can be claimed for economic loss is currently $1,166,240, and for pain and suffering, $518,000.
To put these figures into perspective, if you suffer a shoulder injury you may expect to receive $125,000 – $200,000+ for pain and suffering only. If there is an economic loss component, then this figure will likely be increased.
Bear in mind that each case is different and the individual circumstances of each injury will affect what is paid. For more information see the Indexation of benefits schedule on the TAC website.
What is "serious injury"?
There are many factors that are taken into account when deciding whether your injury is “serious”. These include the impact of the injury on your ability to work and your lifestyle. Also, the opinion of the doctors who treat and assess your injury is an important factor when determining whether an injury is ‘serious’.
"Serious injury" is defined in the Transport Accident Act (1986) as:
- A permanent impairment of 30% or more
- Serious long-term impairment or loss of a body function
- Permanent serious disfigurement, such as scarring
- Severe long-term mental or severe long-term behavioural disturbance or disorder
- The loss of a foetus.
You must commence a common law claim within six years of the date of the accident. In rare cases, this can be extended.
If you have suffered an injury in an accident involving a car, truck, bus, train, motorbike or pushbike that you think was the fault of another person, you should contact an experienced TAC lawyer for advice as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.
Peter Claven is a practicing lawyer in Colac and Warrnambool, providing expert advice on road injury law.