In Victoria, if you’re injured in a car accident, you can lodge a TAC claim. In the unfortunate event that a child is injured in a road accident they are also covered by the TAC scheme. In addition to the standard TAC entitlements coverage, there are some noteworthy differences in minors’ entitlements.
How long do children have to lodge a claim?
There are general time limits to lodge a TAC claim and to bring a claim for pain and suffering damages. These time limits are different if you were injured as a child. The governing legislation recognises that children may not be able to make claims immediately following an accident.
If you were under 18 at the time of the accident you have until your 21st birthday to lodge a TAC claim for compensation. This provides a minimum 3 year period to lodge a claim; longer than the general 3 years from date of accident for adult claimants.
If you were under 18 at the time of the accident and you have an accepted TAC claim for compensation, you have until you 24th birthday to commence a claim for pain and suffering damages referred to as common law damages; again, this is longer than the general 6 years from date of accident for an adult.
There are circumstances in which this time limit can be extended and you should seek legal advice as soon as possible if you think the time limit has passed or is approaching.
Adults are generally entitled to loss of earning benefits for 3 years from the date of injury. If you were a child at the time of the injury, this entitlement works differently depending on whether you were working at the time of the injury or not.
The important thing to remember is that there is an entitlement to lost income, including potential future income, even for injured children. When the entitlement starts and how it is calculated depends on many factors, so it is best to seek legal advice from an experienced practitioner to ensure you are maximising this entitlement.
Medical expenses and other support payments
If you are a child injured on the road, you will be entitled to reasonable and related medical expenses.
The TAC can pay for the cost of nursing or attendant care for a child where required. Where appropriate a family member can be paid to take on these duties, however prior approval is needed by the Transport Accident Commission.
In some circumstances the TAC can pay for the cost of travel and accommodation for the immediate family to visit an injured minor. The TAC can also provide funding for travel expenses associated with an injured child returning to school.
Lump sum entitlement
If you are permanently injured due to a motor vehicle accident you may be entitled to lump sum compensation.
If you were a child at the time of the accident and it can be demonstrated that you will be entitled to lump sum compensation you will also be entitled to an additional weekly payment from 18 months after the accident until your lump sum compensation is finalised or you turn 18; whichever is first.
Pain and suffering damages and economic loss
If you are permanently and seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident as a result of the negligence of another person, you may be entitled to pain and suffering damages and economic loss damages.
You will need an expert TAC lawyer to assist you with this type of claim. It can be difficult to calculate pain and suffering and economic loss across a lifetime if you have been injured at a young age. You will only can settle this claim once and it is important that the impact on the rest of your life is appropriately recognised.
Only an expert TAC lawyer can assist you to ensure you maximise all your entitlements and don’t just settle for the basics.
Management of settlement and money
If your TAC claim for pain and suffering damages and economic loss is settled prior to your 18th birthday there are a number of protections in place to safeguard your money.
Firstly, a competent adult will be required to be your litigation guardian. Secondly the settlement is subject to court approval where the lawyers involved must demonstrate to the court that the settlement is fair and reasonable. Finally, the money will be managed by the court until such time as you are able to manage the funds yourself.
If a child loses mental capacity due injuries sustained in a road accident, the court will likely manage the funds indefinitely.
If you were injured in an accident as a child or have any questions about potential entitlements of minors, you should contact a personal injury lawyer experienced in TAC claims.