As you may remember I have already written about this Act. Despite numerous discussions, pressure from various groups and meetings with representatives of the Transport Accident Commission there were no changes to the bill.
On November 14 2013 the Victorian Government passed the Transport Accident Amendment Bill 2013. The relevant sections for psychiatrists are the following;
TRANSPORT ACCIDENT AMENDMENT ACT 2013
Amendments relating to reimbursement of medical reports
(1) After section 60(2E) of the Principal Act insert —
“(2F) For the purposes of subsection (2)(a), the Commission is not liable to pay as compensation the reasonable costs of medical services that are the provision of a document obtained for medico-legal purposes, or related to medico-legal purposes unless the document—
(a) is requested jointly by the Commission and the person who is injured; and
(b) is provided jointly to the Commission and the person who is injured; and
(c) is provided by a registered health practitioner within the meaning of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.
(a) for the purposes of determining the degree of impairment under section 46A, 47(7) or 47(7A);
(b) for the purposes of Part 6 or Division 1 of Part 10;
(c) responding to a decision of the Commission under Parts 3 and 4 or in contemplation of such a decision;
(d) for the purposes of an application under section 77 for a review of a decision, or in contemplation of such an application.
Amendment of section 93 (common law damages claims for mental injury due to injury or death of tortfeasor)
After section 93(2) of the Principal Act insert —
“(2A) A person who is injured as a result of a transport accident may not recover damages from a person indemnified by the Commission under section 94(1) or from the Commission in respect of a vehicle to which section 96 applies if—
(a) the injury is nervous shock or other mental injury; and
(b) the person was not directly involved in the accident and did not witness the transport accident; and
(c) the mental injury or nervous shock was suffered as a result of the injury or death of another person who was directly involved in the transport accident; and
(d) the transport accident was caused—
(i) in the course of the other person referred to in paragraph (c) committing, or intending to commit suicide; or
(ii) solely or predominantly by the negligence of the other person referred to in paragraph (c).”.
Amendments relating to serious injury applications
After section 93(17) of the Principal Act insert —
“(17A) For the purposes of paragraph (c) of the definition of “serious injury”, a person has a severe long-term mental or severe long-term behavioural disturbance or disorder if that person, for a continuous period of at least 3 years—
(a) has a recognised mental illness or disorder (other than abnormal illness behaviour) as a result of a transport accident; and
(b) displays symptoms and consequent disability that have not responded, or have substantially failed to respond, to known effective clinical treatments provided by a registered mental health professional who is registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practice (other than as a student); and
(c) has severely impaired function with symptoms causing clinically significant distress and severe impairment in relationships and social and vocational functioning.”.
I have already commented on the concerns myself and others have had about these amendments. I have highlighted the major absurdity
a registered mental health professional who is registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law to practice
There ain’t no such person! There is no category for ‘registered mental health professional’ in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law and no-one can register in this category with AHPRA. We told them but they did not listen, or care.
The following has been “borrowed” from the Slater and Gordon website.
New Transport Accident Commission laws to restrict common law claims, particularly for severe psychiatric injuries
On November 14 the Victorian Government passed the Transport Accident Amendment Bill 2013. The legislation is the latest in a series of actions taken by the TAC over the last 2 years that make it harder for seriously injured Victorian’s to make a common law claim when they have been seriously injured.
The main changes to TAC compensation laws are as follows;
As soon as this legislation became public, organisations representing social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, health and other allied health professionals, emergency services workers, community organisations and the Law Institute of Victoria wrote to the Government calling for consultations to address a range of concerns about the proposed changes. The Government decided to proceed with the Bill without addressing these concerns.
The Bill is unlikely to significantly affect you if your common law claim (serious injury application) was commenced before 16 October 2013. If you have any questions about these proposed changes and how it may impact on your case it is best to speak with one of our expert lawyers.