A new appeals avenue through the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT), the retaining of benefits despite breaching certain traffic laws and certain people needing medical treatment after five years being eligible for a lump sum payment from their insurer are part of changes secured by the Greens to the Government’s proposed new compulsory third party insurance (CTP) scheme.
The Greens have negotiated the changes with the Government and believe they will deliver a much fairer scheme than the one originally proposed.
Greens spokesperson for Treasury Caroline Le Couteur said that while many personal injury lawyers still won’t like the new scheme, which will be reviewed after three years, the Greens believed the result was an overall win for Canberra’s travelling public.
The key changes negotiated by the Greens are:
- The scheme will be fairer for injured children and workers. Injured children still requiring treatment and injured adults still needing income benefits after five years will now be able to access common law despite having less than 10 per cent ‘Whole Person Impairment’ (WPI).
- The scheme will now provide options for injured people still requiring medical treatment after five years, who will be eligible for a lump sum payment from their insurer which
can also be arbitrated in ACAT. (This is for not-at-fault people with less than 10 per cent WPI).
- WPI assessments can now consider physical and psychological injuries together (if the psychological injuries arise as a result of the physical injuries). Previously victims would have
had to be assessed on either one or the other.
- Decisions about defined benefits decisions will be able to be appealed through ACAT, and a new division of ACAT will be established.
- People who are of retirement age but were still working at the time of their accident will be able to access defined benefit income replacement payments for up to two years.
- People injured in a motor vehicle while at work will now have up to 13 weeks to decide whether to receive benefits through the workers compensation scheme or CTP scheme.
- Changes to the bill will reduce the possibility of insurers rejecting claims because of late lodgement, and encourage insurers to disseminate information about the CTP process.
- Benefits will no longer be limited or removed for a range of people who were injured while committing certain traffic offences (even though this may have been completely unrelated to the accident), including: cyclists who were not wearing a helmet; drivers whose passenger wasn’t wearing a seatbelt; and situations where a blood test detected a driver’s past cannabis use but this didn’t necessarily impair the driver.
Ms Le Couteur said one of the biggest positives of the new scheme was covered drivers who were “at fault”.
“A person who is injured due to a momentary lapse of attention, or because they hit an animal, will be able to receive support and treatment for their injuries through the CTP scheme,” she said.
“Under the existing scheme, these people have no means to seek financial support for what can be serious injuries.
“The scheme will also see fewer claims going through a protracted legal process, and will see injured people getting faster access to the support and treatment they need.”
Ms Le Couteur said the proposed scheme, with the amendments, better implemented the essential features recommended by the Citizens Jury.
“This is a significant change to the ACT’s CTP laws, and we’re pleased to see that it will be reviewed after three years of operation, at which point we can make any further improvements required,” she said.
“I’d also like to thank the Government for working through this process closely with the Greens; they have agreed to make important changes to their legislation and we think this is now a vastly fairer scheme.”