Losing a loved one in a motor vehicle accident can be an incredibly difficult and traumatic time. In addition to the grief and loss of losing a loved one, there can be significant stress and uncertainty if you were a dependent of the deceased who was reliant on that person to provide financial support, childcare or household help.
In this article, we look at the potential TAC death benefits available for people who have lost a loved one as a result of a motor vehicle accident.
The role of the TAC after a motor vehicle accident
The Transport Accident Commission (“TAC”) is a Victorian Government owned body responsible for paying benefits and compensation to people who are killed or injured in a motor vehicle accident or other road accident.
You can learn more about the role and functions of the TAC in our earlier article, “What is the TAC?”.
Death benefits under the TAC scheme
The TAC can pay for a range of expenses and benefits to dependents following the death of a loved one in a transport accident, if certain criteria is met.
Funeral Expenses & Counselling Expenses
If a loved one dies in a transport accident, the TAC can:
- contribute up to $16,830* towards the cost of a funeral which can include burial, cremation and monument;
- pay up to $5,610* per family to cover the reasonable cost of travel and accommodation expenses within Australia for any immediate family members attending the funeral. Family members must live more than 100km from the place where the funeral, burial or cremation is held to receive this benefit; and
- pay for counselling services up to a maximum of $17,850* per family, after the death of a family member. This benefit is available to the spouse or partner, parents, children (including stepchildren), brothers and sisters, grandparents and grandchildren of the person who has died.
TAC death benefits for dependents – who is eligible?
If you were reliant on a loved one who has died in a transport accident for financial support, you may be able to make a claim for weekly payments, childcare and household help and/or a lump sum payment (“dependency benefits”) through a TAC claim.
Children who have lost their sole parent or surviving parent may also be entitled to dependency benefits.
You must demonstrate that you are a “dependant” in order to receive dependency benefits from the TAC.
There are two categories of “dependant” who are eligible to claim for these benefits:
- “Surviving partner” – means a partner of a person who has died as a result of a transport accident, irrespective of their sex, gender or marital status, and was a dependant of the deceased.
A dependent partner means a person who was:
- wholly, mainly or in part dependant on that person for financial support; or
- wholly dependent on the person for the care of the children of the partner or of the deceased.
A partner means the spouse or someone who was in a de-facto relationship with the deceased at the time of their death.
It is important to note that this may include situations where a spouse has separated from the deceased prior to their death but remained dependent on them to provide financial support and/or child care.
- “Dependent child” – means a child of the deceased who:
- is aged under 18 years of age; or
- is aged between 18 and 25 and is a full-time student or an apprentice; and
- would, but for the death, be wholly, mainly or in part dependent on the deceased for financial support; and
- does not include a child who has a spouse or domestic partner.
What TAC death benefits are available to a “surviving partner”?
- Lump sum payment – The TAC can pay a one-off lump sum benefit up to $200,140*. The amount paid will depend on the deceased’s age, family circumstances and other lump sum payments the surviving partner might have received.
- Income support – If the deceased was employed and providing financial support, the TAC can provide ongoing income support in the form of weekly payments to a surviving partner. The calculation of this benefit is determined by how much the deceased was working prior to the transport accident.
The TAC can pay up to 80% of the deceased’s earnings, up to a capped amount of $1,500* per week. Payments will cease 5-years after the date of death or if the surviving partner becomes entitled to the Age Pension. However, payments can continue beyond 5-years for as long as the surviving partner has dependent children (further details below).
- Childcare/household help – The TAC can contribute towards the costs of household tasks and childcare if they were the responsibility of the deceased.
What TAC death benefits are available to a “dependent child”?
TAC death benefits will not be available if a child’s surviving parent is first entitled to a benefit as a dependent spouse or de-facto partner.
- Death benefit lump sum – The TAC can pay a one-off lump sum benefit of up to $200,140* which is shared equally between any surviving children. If the dependent child is a minor, this benefit is held by the State Trustees until the child reaches 18 years of age.
- Income support to a parent/carer – The TAC can pay an ongoing benefit of $211* per week to the responsible adult/legal guardian for each dependent child, until the child reaches 18 years of age, or ceases to be a full-time student, whichever occurs first.
- Educational allowance – The TAC can pay an education allowance up to $3,190* per year to the responsible adult/legal guardian for each dependent child, until the child reaches 18 years of age, or ceases to be a full-time student, whichever occurs first.
It is important to note that for accidents which occurred on or after 6 July 2022, if both a child’s parents die in the same transport accident, the child is entitled to receive benefits in respect of each parent who died in the accident.
For example, if both a child’s parents died in the same accident (on or after 6 July 2022), they may be entitled to receive a lump sum benefit for the death of parent 1 and parent 2.
Nervous Shock Claims
If you have suffered a recognisable psychiatric illness from witnessing a family member die as a result of a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to make your own TAC claim for compensation (“nervous shock claim”). This might entitle you to benefits which can include:
- income support;
- medical expenses which are reasonably necessary for your treatment; and
- lump sum compensation, which could include a TAC impairment benefit and/or common law claim for damages.
You can learn more about nervous shock claims in our earlier article, ‘TAC Compensation After Witnessing an Accident – Nervous Shock’.
Get help from a TAC motor vehicle accidents lawyer
At Polaris, we are experts in helping family members access TAC entitlements following the loss of a loved one on Victorian roads.
For advice about your potential entitlements, please get in touch directly with Polaris Lawyers on 1300 383 825. It costs you nothing to find out where you stand.
* figures as of 1 July 2022 – indexed annually