Assessing the South Australian Motor Vehicle Scheme 5 Years after the Amendments
As a result of the well publicised amendments to the South Australian Civil Liability Act the Weatherill Government significantly reduced the entitlements to compensation for those injured in motor vehicle accidents in South Australia.
The amendments predated the sale of the Government run third party insurance fund (managed by Allianz CTP) to 4 private insurers effective from 1 July 2016.
Some 5 years on, the effects of the amendments are still being assessed by the major stakeholders, without yet a Court Judgement providing legal interpretation of the amendments to assist with providing legal advice.
As general rule however, it can be agreed that all those injured in motor vehicle accidents since the amendments now receive less compensation. This is a function of the specific amendments including most specifically the following:
- The introduction of an injury threshold for lump sum claims for pain and suffering and future economic loss, with claimants who are considered by the insurer not to have exceeded the thresholds being offered no compensation for pain and suffering and future economic loss.
- A points system for pain and suffering that represents a significant reduction in amounts under the previous scale.
- All claims for past and future economic loss being reduced by 20%, a considerable reduction certainly for young catastrophically injured claimants.
- Thresholds for claims for past voluntary services provided by family (being set at the same threshold for pain and suffering but with an addition requirement that the claimant establishes a care requirement provided by the immediate family of 6 hours a week for 6 months).
Despite these significant restrictions in respect of any lump sum compensation, the claimant is still entitled to 80% of their past economic loss, ongoing “reasonable” medical expenses related to the motor vehicle injury and, once the injuries are considered stable, an assessment for future medical expenses and commercial domestic assistance.
An agreement can be made with the insurer in respect of these potential lump sum benefits and the claims can be settled on the basis of releasing the insurer from any potential civil court action (commonly referred to as a settlement).
Whether the claimant is represented by lawyers or not, the insurer is likely to make offers of settlement so they can close their file. It is very important that a claimant seeks legal advice prior to agreeing to any settlement with the insurer as a term of the settlement will be that the claimant accepts a full and final payment. This means that if the injury continues to cause problems in the longer term they have no recourse to make a further claim for compensation.
An experience lawyer in the area should be able to properly advise a claimant on the costs and benefits of any settlement offer from the insurer. They can assess the current evidence and potentially arrange for further evidence or another medical opinion to support a more substantial claim that better represents the claimant’s loss. As a lawyer practicing in this area it is not unusual to take instructions for a claimant who has previously been made an offer of settlement by the insurer and subsequently settle the matter for many times more than the insurer’s previous offer.
Most lawyers working in this field will act for claimants on a contingent or “no win no fee” basis, deferring any fees until reaching an agreed settlement amount. Further subject to the amount of the settlement, the insurer can be obliged to pay a contribution towards the claimant’s costs.
We’re here to help!
If you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident we’re here to help guide you through the accident claims process. We have permanent offices in Adelaide, Port Augusta, Whyalla, Murray Bridge and Clare. We also service Roxby Downs on a regular basis.
We have been operating in South Australia since 1946 and have a proud history of ensuring everyone has fair access to the power of the law. That’s why we offer a free initial consultation for all motor vehicle accident claims and a no win, no fee commitment.
If you or a family member have been injured in a motor vehicle accident and would like to discuss an accident claim call Tim Downie on 8212 4567.