Coping with a serious injury is challenging, but navigating the financial implications it can bring is a different matter altogether. In Victoria, systems are in place to help victims maximise their serious injury claim payouts and alleviate the monetary burden caused by such injuries.
To help you understand the steps you can take toward receiving compensation, we’ll cover the eligibility criteria and general compensation considerations for serious injury claims in Victoria.
Serious Injury Claims in Victoria: Eligibility Criteria
A serious injury is generally defined as below:
- A significant and enduring impairment or loss of a bodily function.
- A permanent and substantial disfigurement.
- A severe and enduring mental or behavioural disturbance or disorder.
- The loss of a foetus.
A serious injury can also refer to a permanent impairment of 30% or more and can arise from either a single substantial injury or a combination of injuries. In certain circumstances, to be eligible for compensation, you must obtain a serious injury certificate — a document that considers the injury’s long-term impact, as assessed by a medical professional.
While the Transport Accident Act of 1986 provides the eligibility framework for serious injuries sustained in a motor vehicle, the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 and the Accident Compensation Act 1985 both cover workplace injuries. Furthermore, the Wrongs Act 1958 primarily governs the eligibility criteria for serious injuries sustained in a public place, as well as by medical negligence. Our compensation lawyers will work with you to navigate the ins and outs of your claim’s eligibility requirements, assisting in gathering evidence, obtaining necessary documentation, conducting medical assessments and considering other relevant factors.
Understanding Compensation for Serious Injury Claims
A serious injury claim falls under the umbrella of personal injury law. Your personal injury lawyer will help you determine the compensation you may be entitled to depending on the nature of your injury. Yet, to give you a general understanding of what you may be owed, below we’ll cover the compensation logistics for different types of personal injury claims.
Compensation for Workplace Injuries
In Victoria, the process of seeking reparation for a workplace injury is commonly known as a ‘workers compensation’ or a ‘WorkCover’ claim. A WorkCover claim can be made irrespective of who’s at fault for the injury and is accessible for full time, part time and casual employees. Through a WorkCover claim, you may be eligible for the following:
- Weekly compensation: These payments cover the loss of earnings you experience while you’re unable to work or while working in a limited capacity.
- Reimbursement for medical expenses and related costs: This includes the payment of medical bills, hospital visits, travel expenses and rehabilitation services.
- Compensation for work injury damages: Also known as a ‘common law claim,’ this refers to a lump sum payout for the injury caused by the employer’s negligence, acknowledging both the economic and non economic loss resulting from your injuries.
- Dependency claims: In the event of the death of a loved one due to workplace negligence, a dependency claim provides compensation to the deceased person’s dependants.
You may also be eligible for a total and permanent disability (TPD) claim through your active superannuation fund policy, which can provide coverage for income protection, total permanent disability, death and trauma.
The amount of WorkCover compensation you’re eligible for is influenced by several factors, and your solicitor will guide you through the specific factors that impact compensation based on the nature of your injury. In the case of receiving weekly compensation, here’s what you may expect:
Weeks 0-13 of Your Injury
If you’re unable to resume work within the first 13 weeks following a work-related injury, you may be eligible for compensation. This compensation is calculated based on up to 95% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings (PIAWE), which is currently capped at $2590 per week. The compensation amount will be adjusted to account for your current earnings.
Weeks 14-130 of Your Injury
From week 14 to week 130, if you still can’t return to your pre-injury work, your entitlements may be modified. During this period, you may receive compensation of up to 80% of your PIAWE (capped at $2590 per week), with an adjustment made by subtracting 80% of your current earnings. Any overtime or shift allowances included in your PIAWE will cease to be considered after 52 weeks.
After 130 Weeks of Being Injured
After passing the 130-week milestone, you may qualify for further compensation if you can demonstrate an ongoing inability to work. In such cases, you could receive 80% of your pre-injury average weekly earnings, up to a statutory maximum of double the Victorian average weekly earnings ($2590 per week). These payments can continue up until you reach retirement age.
In terms of lump sum compensation, workers’ compensation claims provide different limits depending on the type of loss. For economic loss, the maximum payout is calculated as three times the average weekly earnings at the time of approval for damages. However, when it comes to non economic loss, workers’ compensation claims have a capped maximum. This maximum limit is determined annually, and it stood at $644,640.16 for the 2021-2022 financial year.
Compensation for Motor Vehicle Accident Injuries
The amount of compensation provided by TAC (Transport Accident Commission) is determined by various factors, including the severity of the injury, the individual’s age, employment history and lost earnings, among other variables.
In general, TAC provides coverage for:
- Medical expenses, covering ambulance, hospital, doctor, physiotherapy, medication, hydrotherapy, surgery and home assistance.
- Loss of income, providing 80% of pre-injury income (excluding first five days) or 100% for low-income earners, with a maximum weekly payment of $1,350.
A lump sum may be provided in the event of an extended injury that has been verified by a medical professional. If you have a permanent impairment rating of 11% or more, you’ll be eligible to receive approximately $7,880 (adjusted annually). An additional payment will be granted for each additional 1% of impairment beyond the initial 11%.
If you have a loved one who has passed away from a motor vehicle accident, TAC may be able to provide coverage for funeral expenses, counselling, related travel and accommodation and other support services.
Compensation for Public Liability Cases
While compensation from public liability claims differ case-by-case, individuals who have been injured in a public place can generally seek coverage for the following.
- Economic loss: This refers to any financial losses suffered as a result of the injury, such as loss of income and loss of earning capacity.
- Medical expenses: The injured person can claim compensation for the medical expenses incurred due to their injury, including hospital bills, doctor’s fees, rehabilitation costs, medication expenses, and any other necessary medical treatments.
- Past and future care: Compensation can also cover the costs of past and future care required as a direct result of the injury. This may include ongoing medical treatments, physical therapy, nursing care, and any other necessary assistance.
Injured individuals may also be eligible for lump sum compensation based on the severity of their injury. Factors that may be considered when assessing the severity of an injury include the extent of physical harm, the duration and impact of any resulting disabilities, and the overall impact on the individual’s quality of life. Under the Wrongs and Other Acts (Public Liability Insurance Reform Act 2002, the upper limits of compensation are separated between non economic losses, including pain and suffering ($660,973) and economic loss ($3,884.10 per week).
Compensation for Injuries Due to Medical Negligence
In the event of medical negligence, it’s possible to pursue compensation for both special damages and general damages. Special damages cover tangible financial losses incurred from the time of the injury, which may include medical and hospital expenses, rehabilitation costs, expenses for specialised equipment, travel and accommodation, loss of income and legal fees.
On the other hand, general damages address intangible losses that aren’t easily quantifiable. These encompass aspects such as pain and suffering; disfigurement; the loss of limbs, organs, or senses; the impact on future earning capacity; and the diminished enjoyment of life. The latter refers to how the injury has affected your overall quality of life, such as the inability to participate in work, sports, hobbies, relationships or other activities.
Public information on medical negligence payouts in Victoria isn’t readily accessible, yet the state adheres to compensation guidelines akin to those in NSW. The compensation granted can vary significantly, ranging from $50,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on each case’s unique circumstances.
Working With Specialised Serious Injury Lawyers
Working with specialised serious injury lawyers is important when seeking compensation for your injuries. Personal injury solicitors have extensive knowledge and experience in handling complex cases and can provide valuable guidance throughout the legal process. They will assess your individual circumstances, gather all necessary information, and build a strong case on your behalf.
At GMP Law, we specialise in personal injury claims — whether you were injured at your workplace, as a result of a motor vehicle accident, or due to another’s negligence, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. And, to help relieve some pressure, we operate under a no-win, no fee-basis, meaning you won’t have to worry about upfront costs or legal fees. Reach out to our team today.