In TAC Talk: Road Crashes
TAC compensation after witnessing a road accident

Recently, the ACT Supreme Court found a witness to a car accident in a carpark was entitled to compensation from the driver of a car due to the psychological injuries she suffered. The woman was in a carpark when she heard a man yell out. She then saw one of his arms under the vehicle and his head was close to a wheel of the car. The witness was later diagnosed with PTSD.

Can I claim TAC benefits for psychological injury from witnessing an accident in Victoria?

Car accidents can be frightening, shocking, and damaging. In Victoria, if you’re injured in a road accident, you can lodge a TAC claim. Compensation is payable not just for physical injuries but also for psychological injuries; including where you have witnessed a transport accident.

Most car accidents in carparks in Victoria, where there are injuries, are covered by TAC compensation.

If you suffer a psychological injury in connection with a transport accident you may be entitled to make a claim. This actually extends beyond witnesses to those injured due to the aftermath of an accident; for example, learning about the death of a loved one.

Your TAC claim could entitle you to:

What about lump sum compensation from TAC?

Regardless of who caused the accident, in Victoria, if your psychological injuries are permanent and assessed as reaching a certain threshold, you may be entitled to a lump sum payment.

If you have severe ongoing psychological injuries and the accident was caused by the negligence of another party, you may be entitled to a more significant payment of common law damages.

In these situations, you may be entitled to:

  1. pain and suffering compensation (up to $558,760); and
  2. economic loss damages (up to $1,257,290).

Note: these amounts are current in June 2020 and are indexed annually.

While you need to demonstrate negligence on behalf of the driver (or other party), it is usually the TAC who indemnify the driver and who pay damages on the driver’s behalf.

What do I need to demonstrate to bring a common law claim for witnessing an accident?

Returning to our example from the ACT, if person in Victoria witnesses a transport accident and suffers a psychological injury, they will need to demonstrate several things to bring a claim for common law damages.

  1. They have suffered a severe psychological injury. This is a legal test which considers the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment needs and impact on daily activities including work, relationships, sleep, recreation, and domestic duties.
  2. They were owed a duty of care by the negligent party. Usually this will be easy to establish because drivers owe a duty of care to not cause injury to other road users.
  3. There has been a breach of the duty of care. The driver (or other party) has failed to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to the injured person. This will often be by failing to take proper care while driving.
  4. That the breach of the duty of care has caused the injury.

You should always get advice from a TAC expert if you are injured on the road or due to a motor vehicle.


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