5AA Radio: New motor accident compensation laws in South Australia

TGB’s Barney Gask talks live on 5AA radio about South Australia’s new motor accident compensation scheme, and what it means for people injured on South Australian roads.

1/7/13: Listen through the player above or click here


(Byner: Some weeks ago we started telling you a very interesting story about the CTP insurance scheme and the Minister that was carrying this in the parliament was telling us that consumers will notice a drop in the cost of living because car registration costs will drop, but he also said that – and this was Jack Snelling – that these pain and suffering claims like $10,000 for whiplash were totally outrageous. But all through these times the Government never let on that there was over $100m in a fund which belonged to those people who thought that when they paid their car registration … that that money would be put into a fund to look after those people who are victims. Of course what happened we know, Treasury got hold of it and then they’ve decided to spend it on road funding … that’s history but now we’ve got the new CTP scheme up and running and … Barney Gask, he’s a lawyer, he says that South Australians injured in road accidents from today will face a new compensation scheme that is more complex with significantly reduced entitlements. Now, we knew that the entitlements were going to go by the wayside to a large extent but the complexity … you’d think that governments and simplicity would almost run together in parallel but they don’t … Barney, what is your issue about the CTP scheme as it stands now?)… I think the comment you made during that intro then is the main point, which is we’re in interesting times now. Basically someone … who had an accident yesterday instead of today is likely to be much better off and that’s a real concern for victims. (Byner: … pain and suffering is mainly why isn’t it?)That’s right … I’ll give you a quick rundown of the law as it stood yesterday … if a person was involved in a collision yesterday, as long as the collision wasn’t their fault and there was quite a minor or low threshold, which was as long as they had their normal enjoyment of life impaired for more than seven days they then had an entitlement to pain and suffering and to loss of income both past and future and for their medical expenses … so the extent of that compensation was based pretty much on medical evidence. It was a relatively simple system and in our view worked very well. What somebody who is involved in a collision now has to deal with … as of today is that the Government through legislation has introduced thresholds which apply to an entitlement to pain and suffering and to future loss of earning capacity and those thresholds are based on new scales that have been introduced. I think … it’s the Injury Scale Value … and what we know now based on that legislation is that those thresholds are very high. (Byner: Alright, so that means that unless you are profoundly injured you’re not going to get much at all. So what happens to pain and suffering now?) Essentially … in terms of this Injury Scale Value, unless you get to 11 points on that scale you have no entitlement to pain and suffering … what we know from that … it is alarming if people had a look at the Injury Scale Vale and looked at what fell inside that nought to 11 points, it is very concerning the type of injuries people are going to have to deal with and for which they’re not going to receive anything for pain and suffering. (Byner: Okay, but they’ll still get their medical compensation and so on won’t they?) They will; they’ll get medical expenses paid, they’ll get their past loss of income but that’s another concern … because it’s a bit similar to the WorkCover system in that they’ll get their past loss of income but at 80%. So somebody who’s earning $1,000 a week will lose $200 a week automatically from the moment they have their collision due to these new laws. Now, I think there’d be a lot of people out there on that sort of income who are paying mortgages and other expenses and the loss of $200 a week would be a major concern for them. (Byner: What about the benefits to the motorists in terms of what they’ll pay less in terms of rego?)… my understanding is that there’s a saving … of around $100 a year. My understanding is there’s then a reduction in that to something around the $60 a year next year … where that goes from the year after that I think remains to be seen. I wouldn’t be surprised if … what people are paying for regos aren’t dissimilar to what they’re paying now in a few years time but that remains to be seen. (Byner: … if … anyone listening today … gets into an accident where there is a bodily injury what should they do to make sure that they get what they deserve and what they should get? … ) The system previously was quite simple as well in terms of notification but the legislation has introduced ways by which the accident and the claim needs to be notified. So there’s new forms that need to be completed … these changes are complex and they are complicated; they are complicated for lawyers let alone somebody who doesn’t understand the law … (Byner: When the legal profession approached the Government about this … you must have registered the complexity of this, to which they replied what?) The executive raised that on a number of occasions. We had a system before that worked that wasn’t complex; we already had a nought to 60 scale for pain and suffering and those involved in collisions before yesterday would have some familiarity with that … it was a system that worked … through the negotiations with Government I understand that it was raised quite consistently that they were introducing a much more complex system that wasn’t required and my understanding is it was based on a Queensland system. I think that was put to them but they weren’t prepared to change it. (Byner: So if you get into an accident … you’ll have comprehensive insurance hopefully but then of course the CTP is separate to that so what’s your advice in a nutshell?) Leon … it’s essential that people get some advice … it might not be that they need representation necessarily but I think anyone who has an accident from today … get some legal advice. It might not be that you need to have representation but at least to get some direction about what forms need to be completed and where things are heading. I think it’s pretty crucial.  (Caller Tommy: … if a person is injured in an automobile accident and he makes a claim and this goes to this government department and they make a settlement to this individual, does that sort of automatically cut out – that’s full and final settlement for any claim he might now or in the hereafter regarding the results of that accident or is some manner or other possibly the driver of the vehicle still has got a problem?) Look, for every driver on the road if they register their vehicle is covered by the compulsory third party insurance. So the responsible driver simply notifies the insurer of the claim and … Allianz is the current claims manager. Allianz then deal with the claim … but if your question is if you bring a claim as of today and you receive compensation, if they then pay you some money at some stage in the future to finalise the claim that is it, you can’t come back. (Byner: Okay … thank you for joining us.)

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TGB is South Australia’s largest personal injury law firm. For a free initial interview about your matter, contact Barney on (08) 8212 1077.