There has been an increase in hit and run accidents over the last 10 years in Victoria. In The Age newspaper on 2 April 2019, an article references a shocking hit-run incident in suburban Melbourne in February this year. A rise in the failure to stop and render assistance is a worrying trend, particularly with regard to victims and their families and their entitlements to motor accident compensation.
Rights and entitlements to TAC benefits and support
At Polaris, we’re concerned that misinformation in the community means that victims of road trauma miss out on support and benefits that can help them get back on their feet, particularly where the offender can’t be found or identified.
In Victoria, the TAC is required to pay for a range of benefits and compensation even where the driver of the other vehicle can’t be found or identified. This includes near misses, or circumstances where a cyclist is hit by a motor vehicle whose driver leaves the scene.
Whenever someone is impacted by road trauma there is a huge amount of uncertainty and worry. Everything gets tipped upside down; health, finances and security, including employment security. Victims of road trauma need to be aware that even when the offending driver flees the scene or is unidentified, they are likely to have protections and entitlements under CTP schemes for their medical benefits, loss of income and for a lump sum if they don’t fully recover.
Road accident victims repeatedly, and incorrectly, advised they don’t have a claim
We continue to speak to victims who have been told by a friend, a neighbour or a GP that they don’t have any entitlements or that they cannot lodge a TAC claim. The amount of misinformation about legal rights for road trauma victims is very concerning.
Although identifying the driver is not essential to making a claim, it is important that road trauma victims report the accident straight away to Police, and lodge a claim with the TAC without delay. Then the accident can be investigated by the appropriate authorities and the possibility that the victim is unable to prove that the accident occurred, can be avoided.
Sense of injustice has an impact on recovery
Despite victims of hit run trauma having legal protection under compulsory third-party insurance such as the TAC in Victoria, the sense of injustice, anger and confusion that the culprit fled the scene, impacts on the recovery of the victims.
Research tells us that the psychological impact of a sense of wrongdoing or injustice can have a very significant impact on a victim psychologically, but can also impede their physical recovery.
Criminal implications of failing to stop at the scene of an accident
Failing to stop at the scene of an accident and render assistance are criminal offences in all Australian States and Territories. In addition to criminal penalties for the offender, it can also lead to civil penalties under the Sentencing Act.
If you or a friend or family member has sustained injuries in a hit-run road accident and have not investigated TAC benefits, call Polaris for a confidential and free conversation about potential entitlements. You can get in touch directly with today’s writer, Nick Mann.