Review of Motor Vehicle Accidents Compensation Schemes
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For motorists and pedestrians injured after 1 July 2013, through no fault of their own, their entitlements to common law damages have been significantly affected by legislative reforms. The use of the words “legislative reform” suggests a mutual benefit between the parties by enabling reform. Since the introduction of the Lifetime Support Scheme taking affect for catastrophically injured workers from 1 July 2014, there has been little benefit to the majority of injured motorists and pedestrians.
As a trade-off for legislative reform, Parliament agreed that the amendments that made up the legislative reform would be subject to review. The required review commenced February 2017. On 12th February 2019 the Review of the Operation of the Motor Vehicle Accidents (Lifetime Support Scheme) Act 2013 was tabled before the Legislative Counsel. The Committee conducting the Review received submissions from interested parties and heard evidence between August 2017 and November 2017 (some 15 months prior to the report being tabled).
Why did it take so long for the report to be completed and tabled before Parliament? In our experience from dealing with injured motorised from all walks of life, the legislative reforms have done little to appropriately compensate injured motorists to place them in the same position (as best damages can award) than if the accident had not occurred. Rather the reforms have significantly reduced new claims by introducing statutory thresholds and statutory reductions particularly for pain and suffering, gratuitous services and economic loss. In many instances, no damages result from injuries.
The law has been made increasingly complex by the legislative reforms, such that few ordinary motorists and pedestrians can now understand their rights and entitlements following an accident.
Indeed despite the legislative reforms taking effect from 1 July 2013, it is a plain fact that there has not yet been one decided case dealing with the legislative reforms, despite other litigation in respect to other personal injury civil remedies in South Australian courts. These significant legislative reforms now need to urgently have test cases placed before the courts to give clarity to those most affected. It is no good to suggest that these legislative reforms provide certainty, when there is yet no legal clarity defined by court decisions or precedent.
Sadly, the Review led to the Committee concluding that little could be gained by past experience as to how effectively the legislation was operating. The outcome of the Review did not address the need to pay proper compensation for injured motorists, save those with catastrophic injuries.
Each time we pay our registration and insurance, are we paying our registration and insurance for Compulsory Third Party insurance for the protection of injured motorists and pedestrians or are we paying toward Treasury and other government reserves or the profitability of the insurers, leaving injured parties physically and psychologically broken?