Being injured in a motor vehicle accident is a very frightening experience, and what to do in the aftermath can be both daunting and confusing. Our plain English guide to claiming compensation after a motor vehicle accident in Tasmania provides detailed information on:
- eligibility to claim compensation after a road accident;
- the steps to take immediately after a motor vehicle accident;
- how to make an MAIB claim for compensation and benefits;
- what compensation and benefits are available;
- common law claims due to negligence of another person;
- death benefit claims;
- time limits that apply to your MAIB claim or common law claim;
- options if your claim is rejected; and
- options if the other driver cannot be found.
The motor vehicle compensation scheme in Tasmania is administered by the Motor Accidents Insurance Board ("MAIB"). The scheme provides compensation and benefits on a no-fault basis. These benefits are called "scheduled benefits".
The MAIB is governed by the Motor Accidents (Liability and Compensation) Act 1973 ('the Act').
What is a motor vehicle?
A motor vehicle is defined by the Vehicle and Traffic Act 1999, and it means any vehicle that is built to be propelled by a motor that forms part of the vehicle. A bicycle, for example, is not a motor vehicle. There are some exemptions to the rule under section 3 of the Act, but the important exceptions are:
- a motor vehicle that travels only on a railway, tramway or other fixed track;
- a pedal or power-assisted cycle with a motor; and
- a motor vehicle designed for off-road work in construction, maintenance or warehouse operation.
Importantly, you are not able to claim scheduled benefits after a motor vehicle accident if you were using a vehicle that does not require vehicle registration.
Who can claim motor vehicle accident compensation in Tasmania?
To be eligible for scheduled benefits through the MAIB, you need to be either:
- a Tasmanian resident;
- an interstate resident involved in a motor vehicle accident in Tasmania with a vehicle registered in Tasmania; or
- a non-resident involved in a motor vehicle accident in Tasmania with a vehicle registered interstate who requires daily care.
If the accident happened on private property, you are still eligible for benefits provided you satisfy one of the above criteria.
If the accident occurred due to the use of an unregistered trail bike, farm bike or beach buggy, there is a risk you are not eligible for benefits under s 24(e) of the Act.
If the accident occurred due to:
- motor vehicle racing;
- intentionally causing or attempting to cause personal injury to yourself or others;
- the commission of, or attempted commission of an offence of dishonesty or violence; or
- the use of an unregistered vehicle where the driver of the vehicle is claiming scheduled benefits,
you are likely precluded from claiming scheduled benefits.
If you have been convicted of a serious offence in relation to the motor vehicle accident, you also may be barred from claiming scheduled benefits.
If you wish to pursue personal injury compensation (a common law claim) in Tasmania, you need to prove that the injury occurred as a result of someone else's negligence. If, for example, you were in a single-vehicle accident, you would not be able to pursue personal injury compensation. Please refer below for further information on personal injury compensation.
First steps if injured in a motor vehicle accident in Tasmania
In the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, you are likely in shock and potentially suffering from serious injuries. The circumstances of the accident and the extent of your injuries can greatly vary the next steps you will need to take in order to receive support and compensation.
We suggest the following steps:
- Call 000 and ensure police and an ambulance are on their way. This should be done even when you feel your injuries are not life-threatening.
- If you are feeling able, obtain details from the other driver(s), including their licence number, vehicle registration, full name, and phone number.
- If you are feeling able, obtain details of any witnesses, including name and phone number.
- If you are able at the time, give a statement to police.
- Receive appropriate treatment for your injuries.
- Contact the police later for more information, including the Traffic Crash Report number and any details of police investigations.
- File a motor vehicle accident compensation claim with the Motor Accidents Insurance Board Tasmania ('MAIB').
It is important to make sure that the police are aware of the accident, even if this means notifying them of it after it has occurred. The MAIB require a Traffic Crash Report number in order to assess your eligibility to claim benefits.
The police can also assess if charges need to be laid against the other driver. This may be important if you are eligible for common law damages due to the negligence of another person.
To claim compensation and other benefits after a motor vehicle accident, you will need to complete the relevant prescribed forms. These can be located on the MAIB website. There is a range of forms, and it's important you complete all the forms relevant to your claim.
You can complete the forms online or download them and send to MAIB by post or email.
If you are taken to hospital after your accident, you may be provided with these forms and given assistance by hospital staff to complete them. If you do not complete the forms in hospital, you should make an appointment as soon as possible with your GP so you can discuss your injuries and receive assistance in providing the forms to the MAIB.
The sooner you file the forms, the faster you can have your treatment and wage loss paid for.
What compensation is available after a motor vehicle accident in Tasmania?
The MAIB provide benefits to compensate you in the case of a motor vehicle accident. These benefits are provided on a 'no liability' basis - meaning they will provide these benefits regardless of the cause of the accident.
Benefits available after a motor vehicle accident in Tasmania include:
- compensation for loss of income;
- medical expenses (including GP, hospital, ambulance, specialists, surgeons and allied health professionals);
- travel expenses in certain circumstances;
- domestic assistance in certain circumstances.
You may also be eligible for personal injury compensation (common law claim) if your injuries are as a result of someone else's negligence (see the section on common law claims below).
Personal injury compensation claims (common law claim) after a motor vehicle accident in Tasmania
It is always best to seek advice from a lawyer as to whether you have grounds for a personal injury claim due to the negligence of the other driver. This type of claim is in addition to the no-fault MAIB claim.
If you are able to pursue a personal injury claim (common law claim), you may be eligible for the following compensation:
- General damages (pain and suffering);
- Past economic loss (above and beyond what is covered by the MAIB);
- Future economic loss;
- Past out-of-pocket expenses and treatment (this area is usually minimal as the MAIB should be paying for most of these);
- Future out-of-pocket expenses and treatment; and
- Future care needs.
These claims are often complex. To ensure you protect your interests and receive ALL the compensation you deserve, it is crucial you speak with a motor vehicle accidents lawyer.
What if the other driver cannot be found?
If either of the following things occurs:
- The identity of the other motor vehicle cannot be established; or
- The driver of the other motor vehicle has died or, after reasonable inquiry and search, cannot be found,
you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
This is due to section 16 of the Act. Under this section, if any of the above occurs, you need to notify the MAIB within three (3) months or, with reasonable justification, nine (9) months.
Get help from a motor vehicle accidents lawyer
If you've been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Tasmania, you will be entitled to compensation by lodging an MAIB claim. You may also have an entitlement to personal injury compensation if someone else's negligence caused the accident and your injuries.
Hall Payne is highly experienced in motor vehicle accident claims. We offer a free first interview, and if your claim has merit, we will run it on a 'no win no fee' basis.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.