13 Jul Dr James Bodel
Changes to NSW motor accident laws
Written by Dr James Bodel
Here are a few paragraphs about the New South Wales Compulsory Third Party changes in the legislation.
On 1 December 2017, NSW introduced a new scheme for the management of motor vehicle accidents. For the first six months injured people are entitled to a “statutory claim” for treatment and wages, if working, under this new scheme which has a no-fault component in that first six-month period.
The scheme also allows for the driver of a motor vehicle who is at fault to be covered for the costs of treatment and for wages for that six-month period (26 weeks).
This clearly therefore increases the number of claimants significantly for that six-month period and at the end of that period a determination has to be made under the legislation as to whether the injuries sustained are “soft tissue injuries (minor injuries)” or “non-minor injuries”. There is a very strict definition as to what constitutes a soft tissue minor injury and a non-minor injury.
Towards the end of that first six-month period the insurer makes a determination as to whether it is their view that the injured person falls into the minor or non-minor category and informs them accordingly. If deemed to be non-minor, or the at fault driver, all statutory benefits cease at the end of the 26-week period.
If the injured person who is not the at fault driver disputes that determination then application can be made to have that reviewed. There are internal review capabilities or referral to the Dispute Resolution Service at SIRA, for a determination by an approved assessor.
There are further dispute resolution mechanisms after that for further review.
My experience with this new scheme which is now two and a half years old, is that disputes of this type do occur over the minor/non-minor definition. Later in the timeline of the claim, those who are shown to have non-minor injuries, can make further limited common law claims as has always been the case with motor vehicle accidents. There are however more significant restrictions on those claims as I understand it and the benefits are somewhat reduced in comparison to the previous scheme.
The catastrophically injured are still well covered for ongoing treatment needs through the Lifetime Care and Support Agency which is part of the State Insurance Regulatory Authority.