The Transport Accident Commission (“TAC”) is a Victorian Government owned body with a primary role in reducing road trauma and paying benefits and compensation to people injured in a car accident or other road accident. This includes TAC claims for road accidents such as:
- pedestrian accident claims;
- truck accidents;
- motorbike accidents;
- cyclist accidents;
- train crashes;
- farm vehicle accidents;
- bus or tram accidents; or
- other road crash involving a motor vehicle in Victoria.
In effect, the TAC is the insurer when you make a road crash claim and, as TAC lawyers, we’re on the other side to ensure claimants rights and entitlements are protected and that compensation and benefits are paid out fully and fairly.
How is the TAC funded?
The TAC is funded by road users who pay a transport accident charge (a type of insurance premium) when they register their vehicles. While other states and territories allow road users to choose their own Compulsory Third Party (or CTP) insurer, in Victoria the choice is made for you: all insurance for injury and death after a motor vehicle accident is covered by the TAC.
The TAC spends some of its funding on road safety campaigns and initiatives, and the bulk of its funds on benefits, supports and compensation to people affected by road trauma as a result of a motor vehicle accident in Victoria.
What is the role of the TAC?
Anyone who lived in Victoria in the 90s will vividly remember the graphic ads featuring car accidents and road trauma.
Those ads were designed and run by the TAC to shock drivers into driving more safely and to attempt to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by road crashes in Victoria.
While the road toll remains unacceptably high, the TAC shock and awe campaign was, by any measure, hugely successful, and the road toll today is less than one-third of what it was in 1989.
However, the role of the TAC is so much more than the scary adverts it became known for. Although it continues to play a huge role in road safety, it also has a critically important role in providing benefits and paying compensation for people injured and killed following car accidents and other motor vehicle accident trauma.
Just as it did when it put out the graphic road crash adverts in the 90s, the TAC continues to take a leading role in promoting road safety and reducing the road toll on Victorian Roads. It is not, however responsible for maintenance or repair of roads, or in relation to licencing and registration of drivers and vehicles.
The TAC is underpinned by the Transport Accident Act, which sets out how the TAC is structured and functions, but also makes laws in relation to the benefits, support and compensation that the TAC is required to pay after a motor vehicle accident.
These laws are designed to be “beneficial legislation”. This means that where there is doubt or ambiguity about the law, it should be resolved in favour of the injured person. This gives effect to the social purpose of the TAC benefit and compensation scheme.
Who is entitled to TAC compensation and benefits?
Anyone injured in a motor vehicle accident in Victoria (and in some circumstances outside Victoria) may be entitled to benefits and compensation under the TAC scheme.
Benefits can include:
- medical and rehabilitation expenses;
- care and home help;
- loss of income support; and
- lump sum compensation for permanent impairment, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and future lost income.
Some people assume the TAC scheme does not cover them unless they are in a car on a public road when they are in an accident. This is not the case. TAC benefits and compensation can be available to people who are:
- pedestrians or cyclists injured in an accident (or a near miss) involving a motor vehicle;
- witnesses to a motor vehicle crash;
- Injured on or by trams, trains, buses, trucks, tractors and, in some cases, farm bikes;
- Injured in accidents on private property;
- Grieving the loss of a loved one following a death in a motor vehicle accident;
- Cyclists injured by car-dooring incidents;
- People who are injured in an accident involving an unlicenced driver or an unregistered vehicle;
- Injured in an accident while travelling from interstate or overseas.
Are we in favour of the TAC?
The TAC plays a critical role in relation to road safety, and in providing a safety net and a system of compensation for people injured and killed in motor vehicle accidents in Victoria.
The TAC system is one which is the envy of many other states and territories, and other injury compensation schemes in Australia and abroad.
It is an insurance system designed to balance the rights and entitlements of injured people with financial stability and sustainability.
For a huge number of people injured or affected by road trauma, the TAC is a welcome support for them in terms of rehabilitation and wage support.
However, the TAC scheme and the way that it is run are not perfect.
The TAC makes decisions which we, as TAC lawyers, (and in some circumstances Courts and Tribunals) believe have incorrectly or unfairly prevented an injured person from securing fair and reasonable entitlements and compensation.
Like any other large government body, the TAC makes decisions which we disagree with, and which need to be challenged.
And like any other insurer, they make decisions to save money. Sometimes this comes at a cost to people who we believe deserve more than the TAC is prepared to offer to them.
In that way, while we respect the TAC as an organisation and believe that it is critically important, we believe that we have an important role to play in advocating for TAC claimants. It’s our job to ensure that their entitlements are protected, their compensation maximised, and to keep the TAC to its vision and legislative role in providing fair and reasonable support for people injured in road crashes.