Understanding how the TAC Claims process works in Victoria
If you have been injured in a car accident in Victoria, or while travelling in a Victorian registered car within Australia, then you can claim compensation from the Transport Accident Commission (“the TAC”).
This guide outlines important information for you if you have been involved in an accident. The accident does not even have to be someone else’s fault. If you were injured driving a car, truck, motorcycle, or even whilst a passenger on a bus, train or tram, you may be eligible to make a TAC claim.
Please be aware that the advice given here is of a general nature. We recommend that you consult one of our Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss the particular aspects of your TAC claim. This content here relates to Victorian TAC claims only.
Table of Contents
- 1 Outline of TAC Scheme
- 2 Making a TAC Claim
- 3 Think you may have a claim? Start your free TAC claim check
- 4 Income Replacement Benefits
- 5 Medical Expenses
- 6 Injury causing Permanent Impairment
- 7 Serious Injury Certificate Payouts
- 8 TAC Common Law (Fault) Claims
- 9 Damages
- 10 Death Benefits
- 11 Travel Benefits for Parents
- 12 Travel Benefits for Children
- 13 What happens if I have been drinking?
- 14 Disputing a TAC decision
- 15 Rehabilitation Program
- 16 Legal Costs
Outline of TAC Scheme
A large part of the TAC scheme is ‘no-fault’. It provides benefits to people who have been injured in transport accident, regardless of how the accident occurred.
The benefits provided by the no fault part of the scheme fall into three different categories:
- Income Replacement, weekly payments paid if you cannot work because of your injury
- Medical Expenses, paid for medication, treatment, physiotherapy, travel, etc.
- Permanent Impairment benefit.
Making a TAC Claim
You can make a TAC claim if you’ve been injured in any type of transport accident. A transport accident is defined as an accident that has been caused by the driving of a car, motorcycle, bus, train or tram.
Injured persons can be drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and commuters.
To make your TAC claim, you need to;
- If the Police did not attend the accident, report the transport accident to your nearest Police Station
- Contact the TAC on 1300 654 329 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:30pm AEST) and they will walk you through how to make a TAC claim from over the phone
Our Personal Injury Lawyers can also assist you with this process.
If you are claiming compensation for time off work, you will need to get a medical certificate from your doctor and proof of your earnings. You will then have to regularly send monthly medical certificates to the TAC for as long as you are unable to or restricted at work.
Think you may have a claim? Start your free TAC claim check
Income Replacement Benefits
For those that are earners at the time of a transport accident, you can claim income replacement benefits.
Your first five days off work cannot be claimed from TAC. Most people use sick leave for this period, if they are entitled to this. After that, you can receive payment for time off work due to your injuries.
You may be an earner even if you were not working at the time of the accident, but had worked over the previous two years. You should seek legal advice as to whether you are an earner, if in any doubt.
First 18 months after the accident
If you are totally unable to work, you will be paid 80% of your pre-accident weekly earnings.
If you are suffering a partial loss of earnings, you should receive 85% of the difference between your pre-accident earnings and your current earnings.
18 months after the accident
If you are an earner still unable to work after 18 months, the TAC should continue to pay you but the amount will based on your loss of earning capacity, which may be different to your pre-injury earnings.
If you are not an earner but still cannot work 18 months after the accident, you may still be eligible for loss of earning capacity payments, but calculated under a different formula.
Three years after the accident
If you cannot work after three years, you will only receive loss of earnings payments from the TAC if;
- you are assessed as having an impairment of 50% or more; and
- you are unable to work or have a reduced earning capacity
Remember, you must keep lodging monthly medical certificates from your doctor with the TAC to continue to be paid.
The only other way to receive compensation for being unable to work is by making a Common Law (Fault) claim.
You can claim all reasonable medical expenses related to your injury. Medical services must be provided by a TAC accredited provider.
You can also claim for travel expenses when you see your own treating doctors and when you are sent to doctors by the TAC.
You may also claim for home help, help in the garden or for modifications to your home and car, where necessary. You should discuss these needs with your doctor, who can provide a letter to the TAC setting out your needs.
Injury causing Permanent Impairment
If, after you recover as best you can from your injuries, you are assessed as having a more than a 10% permanent impairment as a result of your transport accident, you will receive lump sum compensation which we call an impairment benefit.
It does not matter how your accident occurred, and who or what was at fault for the accident.
The TAC will generally not assess you for this benefit before 18 months after your accident.
If the TAC assesses your impairment, you should consult us immediately to ensure this has been completed correctly.
However, the TAC do not usually go out of their way to have people assessed for Permanent Impairment. You ought to consult us as soon as possible to discuss your potential entitlements. Once you have stabilised from your transport accident injuries, you can commence your claim.
This assessment is also important in considering whether you have a serious injury or not.
Serious Injury Certificate Payouts
A serious injury is required to sue any party that is at fault for your motor vehicle accident. The process of showing you have a serious injury begins with an assessment of your permanent impairment.
If your permanent impairment is 30% or more by law you have a serious injury automatically.
However, if your permanent impairment is less than 30%, and you want to claim common law damages, you will need to apply to the TAC for a serious injury certificate.
To prove serious injury, you must show you have a:
- long term serious impairment or loss of a body function; or
- permanent serious disfigurement; or
- severe mental or severe behavioural disturbance or disorder; or
- loss of a foetus.
The first step is to lodge a serious injury application with the TAC. Our lawyers are experts in preparing these applications for the TAC to consider. This process usually takes around three months.
If, after consideration of your application, the TAC will not grant you a serious injury certificate, we can appeal this decision in the County Court.
TAC Common Law (Fault) Claims
A common law claim is a claim made when you can show that fault or “negligence” on the part of another driver or some other person has caused your injury.
This is a process where you sue the other person for causing injury to you.
However, most dealings in relation to motor vehicle accidents are ultimately dealt with by the TAC, rather than the individual at fault, as they insure drivers in Victoria for personal injury caused in a motor vehicle accident.
A successful common law claim results in a payment of a lump sum called “damages” to you by the TAC.
Your injury must be considered to qualify as a “serious injury” before you can claim common law damages.
Once you have proved your serious injury, we must negotiate with the TAC for the appropriate payment of damages to you. Such negotiations are often successful, however if negotiations fail, we will go to Court for you.
Damages have two components:
- General Damages – These are paid for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. If you can show that you have a permanent serious injury, you can claim general damages for pain and suffering, even if you are still working.
- Loss of Wages – You can claim a lump sum for past and future loss of wages if you have a serious injury that stops you from working, or reduces your ability to work.
Once you receive a lump sum for lost wages, your weekly payments of compensation will stop.
If you receive a lump sum, whether for lost wages and/or pain and suffering, you are still entitled to payment of medical benefits. These are not affected by any compensation steps outlined above.
If a transport accident has contributed to the death of a person who was an earner, the dependents of the deceased person can claim benefits.
Earner includes a person receiving Centrelink benefits for 26 weeks of the two years prior to the accident.
- A lump sum to be divided between a dependent spouse and dependent children;
- A weekly pension for dependents payable for five years or until all dependent children have turned 16. If any child is a full-time student, the pension will continue so long as the child is a student or until age 25, whichever occurs first;
- Family counselling by a doctor or psychologist;
- Reasonable costs for burial or cremation;
- If the deceased person provided housekeeping or child-rearing services to the family, the reasonable cost of providing those services for five years will be paid.
All of the above benefits are “no fault” benefits, so families of people who die in single vehicle accidents are also covered.
However, if death has been caused by negligence (fault) or another person, the dependants may sue for damages. You will need to see a one of our Personal Injury lawyers for advice in relation to this. Such claims can be complicated, due to having to compare “no fault” entitlements to fault based damages. Expert legal advice is required for such a decision.
Travel Benefits for Parents
If you are the parent of a child injured in an accident, the TAC will pay reasonable travel costs for you to visit your child in hospital and may pay for your reasonable accommodation costs.
Travel Benefits for Children
If you are staying overnight at a hospital, the TAC may pay for your spouse and children to visit you. To qualify, they must live more than 100 kilometres from the hospital. If they do, the TAC will pay for their reasonable travel and accommodation costs.
What happens if I have been drinking?
Your rights to compensation may be affected by being reduced or not payable at all:
- If you have been drinking before the accident;
- If you have committed certain driving offences;
- If your licence is cancelled, suspended or you have never held a licence;
- If you were part of a race or trial;
- If you were committing a serious offence
Similar provisions apply to driving whilst under the influence of drugs. Such provisions are complex, and often depend on the BAC of a person, or drug related offence they have been convicted of. You should ask one of our lawyers if you are concerned about this.
Disputing a TAC decision
You only have 12 months to challenge a TAC decision. This period cannot be extended.
If the TAC make a decision that you do not agree with, you can then ask for an internal review or you can go directly to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“VCAT”) to try to resolve the dispute. You must however go to VCAT within 12 months of the decision being made.
If the decision is disputed formally via a lawyer, this 12 month period is effectively suspended for the duration of the dispute.
It is therefore best to always seek legal advice as soon as possible regarding any decision by the TAC that you do not agree with.
The TAC is required to help you design a rehabilitation and return to work plan, preferably with a rehabilitation provider. You must take all reasonable steps to participate in rehabilitation and return to work. If you do not, your benefits can be stopped.
Legal costs can be expensive, but we will do all we can to help. What we can do includes:
- Free first interview
- No charges until you win (in approved cases). Please discuss what this means at our first interview.
- Paying for medical reports, Court fees, and other expenses (in approved cases).
We will discuss costs in detail with you at our first interview. We will always answer your questions about costs. We will clearly advise you of the total costs when you come to settle your claim, and pride ourselves on being able to be clear as to what you will receive in hand, after payment of costs, before you settle your case.