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The cost of being injured on Canberra’s roads just got a lot higher – what you need to know

Amber Wang

04 Feb 2020

Topics

  • Personal Injury

On Saturday, 1 February 2020 the new compensation scheme for those injured on ACT roads was introduced. It is known as the Motor Accident Injuries Act 2019 (MAIA). This scheme replaces the old Compulsory Third Party (CTP) scheme. In this article Amber Wang explains some of the changes you should be aware of.

How does it work?

The new scheme is still privately underwritten by the same insurance companies, but now those insurers have further powers and injured workers have more hurdles to cross to get on with their recovery and lives.

Defined benefits

The new scheme will allow the payment of defined benefits to both the person who caused the motor vehicle accident and those injured in the motor vehicle accident. Defined benefits include approved treatment and paid care expenses, payment of a portion of lost wages, and a relatively small quality of life (QOL) payment for those with permanent injuries.

These benefits must be applied for within 13 weeks of the accident and are available for up to five years if you can provide ongoing supportive medical evidence and have the insurer’s approval. Funeral and dependency benefits can also be applied for.

Disputes with the insurer about defined benefits will be internally reviewed; however, the next step requires the injured person to take their dispute to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) for consideration.

Whole person impairment

Only those people who were not at fault for the motor vehicle accident and are assessed as having at least a permanent 10% whole person impairment (WPI) will be allowed to bring a motor accident claim (previously called a common law claim). It is thought this will exclude 90% of innocently injured road users. This is because 10% WPI is a deceptively high threshold.

The motor accident claim will allow some injured people to seek compensation for their future treatment and paid care expenses, loss of income and superannuation contributions. However, it is expected that the current scheme will not restore injured people to the financial position they would have been in had the accident not occurred. It will now inevitably take injured people much longer to commence and resolve their claims following an accident, leading to years more involvement with the legal and insurance system.

How can we help?

Snedden Hall & Gallop is Canberra’s oldest independent law firm, and our Personal Injury team has been proud to advocate for those injured on Canberra’s roads. We understand that when someone is injured it is often a very vulnerable and busy time, juggling medical investigations and treatment into physical or psychological injuries, graduated return to work programs, financial and relationship strains, inability to care for loved ones, and uncertainty about the future. Talking with an insurer during that time is often the last thing you want to do. However, under the new scheme there are many very important and time-sensitive decisions you will have to make to ensure you obtain or retain benefits or the ability to progress your claim.

The ACT Government has not yet published the full suite of regulations and guidelines that support the new scheme, so there is much left unknown. Only time will tell whether saving around $14 in premiums will be worth it if you or your family are injured on Canberra roads.

Contact us by email or on 02 6285 8000.

*The content of this article is provided for information purposes only, and we do not accept any liability for reliance upon the information contained in this article.  This information cannot be relied upon as legal advice.