Lifetime support for own-fault accident victims hits lower-end claims, say lawyers

The 2013 changes to South Australian third party insurance allowed motorists to claim lifetime support for serious injuries in accidents that were their own fault.
Image courtesy ABC News

Law Society of South Australia and injury-claim lawyers have continued to complain about what they say is unfairness in changes to laws relating to accident insurance claims in 2013.

The significant changes in 2013 were the Motor Vehicle Accidents (Lifetime Support Scheme) Act and amendments to the Civil Liability Act 1936. The lifetime support scheme introduced treatment, care and support of those catastrophically injured in motor vehicle accidents that were their own fault. This represented 40% of victims who were previously unable to claim under compulsory third party insurance for treatment and care for lifelong disabilities.

As a result of introducing the costly new Lifetime Support Authority, the state government brought in changes to the lower end of the scheme affecting those with more minor injuries from a vehicle accident. At this lower end, drivers had to score more than 11 out of 100 points on an injury-severity scale to get compensation over and above loss of income and medical bills or “pain and suffering” payments.

The government said it made the changes to make car insurance more affordable and that the scheme had saved the average motorist $140 in car registration fees. Lawyers argued that those savings had all but disappeared and, in the meantime, car crash victims who have suffered broken limbs, a loss of vision, or even some brain damage, were being refused pain-and-suffering compensation because they scored less than 8/100 under the changes to the compulsory third-party insurance scheme.

Lawyers also suggested the 2013 changes anticipated the sale of South Australia’s compulsory third party insurance system to private companies.

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