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The jury’s in, victims to receive less when injured

HerCanberra Team

Personal injury specialists Maliganis Edwards Johnson (MEJ) have warned that upcoming changes to the ACT’s Compulsory Third-Party Insurance scheme will have a huge impact on injured road victims.

Canberrans motorists will need to understand the consequences of the new no-fault legislation after a Citizen’s Jury decided on major reforms to the territory’s current insurance scheme.

MEJ partner James Treloar, said that currently in the ACT, the payment of benefits relies on establishing a degree of fault, with only limited compensation for the driver who caused the motor accident.

Maliganis Edwards Johnson Partner James Treloar

It was a system questioned by the ACT Government for being expensive and slow to respond to claims, while the legal fraternity lobbied for no change on the basis the scheme provided just compensation to innocent road users hurt through no fault of their own.

The changes are expected to reduce insurance premiums across the ACT by around $130 a year but James says this will be paid for by reducing benefits to those whose lives are shattered in the event of a serious accident.

“Unfortunately, the scheme chosen by jury members will reduce benefits for at least 90 per cent of innocent injured victims, whilst supporting at-fault drivers.

“To pay for these changes, people with significant injuries which stop them from doing their jobs could be forced to rely on welfare or family when their benefits are cut off after five years.”

While he believed the members of the Citizen’s Jury had done the best they could to make a decision “with the limited information and time given” he noted that by the time the votes were cast, only 39 jurors actively made a decision which will affect an estimated 285,000 ACT car drivers.

Under the proposed no-fault scheme, everyone will have access to the same compensation.  The majority of motor accident victims would be drip-fed reduced benefits by insurance companies.  For most accident victims, benefits are cut off after five years, regardless of whether they are able to return to work or not.

“History and experience has shown us time and time again that insurance coverage of this type is nice in theory, but terribly unfair in practice—consider the problems recently highlighted during the enquiry into the NDIS.

“If the changes are legislated, innocent road users—those who don’t cause the accident—will have their rights taken away from them and given to those who are responsible for causing the accident in the first place.”

James conceded that Compulsory Third-Party Insurance was not a topic that stimulated much interest in the general public – “unless and until you’re involved in a motor accident, (then) it becomes very important very quickly when you or someone you love is injured through no fault of their own and the medical bills start to pile up and their ability to earn an income is affected.”

While few would disagree with the ideal of universal coverage, James said the real issues of fairness arose when the compensation payable to those injured by others was arbitrarily cut to pay for the benefits to be extended to the at-fault drivers.

“Even more objectionable is the imposition of injury thresholds set by government actuaries and accountants that will be used to determine which injured person is worthy of full compensation, and which is not.”

He also warned that the reduction in annual CTP premiums of up to $130 may only be a short-term gain.

“In the long-term, motor accident victims and their families would pay the price as the number of claims rises dramatically and benefits are slashed to maintain insurer profits.

James says that stripping injured people of their compensation entitlements to give others an insurance saving is a false economy.

“It remains to be seen whether any savings actually eventuate, given the government consultant costing the model made very clear the outcomes (including the projected savings) were far from certain.

“In fact, the consultants engaged by the government indicated that the elements of the selected model were the least certain of all of the models considered by the jury.”

The Bill containing the new legislation is expected to hit the Legislative Assembly shortly.

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  • Ms Jennifer

    Jeremy Morris, you are right. The article didn’t talk about domestic violence against men and why would it. Her Canberra’s main focus is for women, as the title suggests. Writing about issues women generally are interested. Just like other magazines tayloured for males, like Mens Health writes about issues men are interested in.
    Violence in any form is unacceptable. More than one woman a week is killed at the hands of a male. Mostly by her partner or former partner. That does not even touch the surface of those who are in a domestic violent/abusive relationship.
    Yes, women are violent and abusive too, even killing, partners, children and other women.
    Not though as often as men do. The narrative needs to change, the government needs to do more. Men need to step up!!
    This is 95% YOUR problem.

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