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Wallan train crash February 2020

On 20 February 2020, what was meant to be a quiet train journey from Sydney to Melbourne ended in horror as a train derailed near the Victorian town of Wallan, killing two people and injuring countless others.

While the precise cause of the accident will be thoroughly investigated, those affected by the crash will be looking for answers.

And while the impact of the crash for many of the victims and their families will be lasting, it is important that they get and act upon information that can help them to obtain the medical, financial and legal support that they need as soon as possible.

Here we provide some important legal information about the rights of people affected by the crash. This includes advice about what to do next to ensure that they are getting the medical and legal assistance which can help them through this very difficult time.

Information for injured passengers and family members

The reports of 2 deaths as a result of the crash comes as a shock in a nation where we come to expect safe, if not reliable, public transport.

Injuries may not be immediately apparent

While many of the passengers travelling on the derailed train have thankfully reported that they were uninjured, it is very common for injuries to become apparent once the initial shock of a crash subsides.

Under the Victorian TAC insurance scheme, anyone who is injured as a result of a train crash or its aftermath in Victoria, which can include psychological injuries as a result of hearing about the accident or the loss of a loved one, is entitled to:

  • Medical benefits;
  • wage support;
  • lump sum benefits; and
  • other compensation entitlements.

Families of the injured may be able to seek reimbursement of travel costs and other TAC benefits

The families of those injured and hospitalised as a result of the crash may be able to access reimbursement for the cost of travel or accommodation to visit their injured relatives.

Further, the families of anyone killed in the crash should be entitled to:

  • lump sum payments;
  • weekly income support for dependants; and
  • financial support for counselling and funeral costs.

TAC benefits are immediately available no matter who is eventually found to be at fault for the crash.

Time limits for compensation claims

Strict time limits apply to lodging a TAC claim – so it is important not to delay in taking steps to get help and support.

What to do now in relation to TAC compensation benefits

  1. Speak to your doctor, ensuring that you report any and all symptoms, and that they are noted in your record.
  2. Seek a referral for counselling help if you need to speak to someone about what you saw.
  3. Check on affected family members and ensure that they get the medical help and attention that they need.
  4. Call the TAC without delay and start the process of lodging a TAC claim in relation to your injuries.
  5. Contact us if you need a hand lodging your claim, free of charge.

Information for witnesses and good Samaritans

For those who witness an accident or act as good Samaritans, there can be a tendency to put yourself second and to focus on those people in the crash.

Sometimes this results in a delay in the impact of the accident becoming apparent for those who witness or assist in the crash or its aftermath.

Anyone who is psychologically injured as a result of witnessing a train accident or its aftermath in Victoria is entitled to:

  • Medical benefits;
  • wage support’
  • lump sum benefits; and
  • other compensation benefits under the TAC insurance scheme.

TAC benefits are immediately available no matter who is eventually found to be at fault for the crash.

Strict time limits apply to lodging a TAC claim – so it is important not to delay in taking steps to get help and support.

What to do now if you are a witness to an accident or good Samaritan

  1. Speak to your doctor about what you witnessed, ensuring that you report any and all symptoms, and that they are noted in your record.
  2. Make sure that you’re accessing the help you need – getting a referral from your doctor for psychological counselling.
  3. Call the TAC without delay and start the process of lodging a TAC claim in relation to your injuries.
  4. Contact us if you need a hand lodging your claim, free of charge.

Information for injured workers and their families

Those who were working at the time and are injured as a result of the crash or its aftermath will be entitled to the payment of medical treatment, wage support and potentially lump sum benefits under the Victorian Worker’s Compensation insurance scheme.

However, their employment will need to be sufficiently connected to Victoria and the circumstance of each worker’s employment would need to be examined to determine if the Victorian, NSW or another state’s Workers Compensation scheme applies.

The families of workers killed in the crash would be entitled to financial support for counselling and funeral costs, as well as lump sum payments and weekly income support for their surviving dependants.

Worker’s compensation benefits are payable no matter who is eventually found to be at fault for the crash.

What to do now in relation to workers compensation benefits

  1. Speak to your doctor, ensuring that you report any and all symptoms, and that they are noted in your record.
  2. Seek a referral for counselling help if you need to speak to someone about what you saw.
  3. Check on affected family members and ensure that they get the medical help and attention that they need.
  4. Speak to a lawyer before you lodge a worker’s compensation claim – the law in relation to workers injured on interstate journeys is complex, and your rights and entitlements can depend heavily on your individual circumstances.

This train crash is a tragedy for all involved. The most important thing is for those affected, and their families to look after their physical and mental health, and to ensure that they are getting the medical, financial and legal support that they need

To find out more about how the law applies to your specific circumstances, contact Polaris for a free legal consult and we’ll give you guidance about benefits and compensation for your losses and injuries.

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