What is the TAC’s role in delivering benefits? Henry Carus of Henry Carus and Associates is here today and he’s going to answer that question and more.
So, Henry, thanks for being here today.
Henry: My pleasure, Cindy.
Cindy: Well, Henry, how does one make a claim to TAC?
Henry: The general way that most people do it is once they’ve been in an accident and injured they will contact the TAC and the easiest way is by telephone and the TAC will take the information down over the phone as to what has occurred. They’ll take basic information and then they will send the person that information by mail for them to fill in the remainder of the claim form, confirm the information that has been given, sign off, and return it to them. That’s the general way it’s done. Another way it is done quite commonly is that if you are quite seriously injured and unable to do it for yourself and in the hospital the hospital staff will do it for you and get you to sign off on the form as soon as you can but the benefits from the TAC will start to come right away as long as the hospital confirms it is a road accident.
Cindy: And when should someone make a claim to TAC?
Henry: The legislation is not so friendly on that. It says that you must make a claim within 1 year of your accident and then there is a provision for it that it can be extended up to 3 years if you have a reasonable excuse for your delay. If you don’t get it in within the 1 year or you don’t have an excuse for the 3-year-extension then you’re unable to make a claim ever again for that accident for the remainder of your life so I tell clients to get in as soon as possible and definitely within the 1 year if they can achieve that.
Cindy: Okay. What benefits should I be entitled to once my claim is accepted?
Henry: Well, TAC will send you a letter which will kind of give you a brochure and some pamphlets about the kind of information that you may need but some basic benefits that should come your way right away are one, covering your medical expenses like a hospital stay, your ambulance stay, and things of that nature, also income support will come to you quite quickly in terms of trying to map out what you’re earning before and what you’re entitled to under the legislation. There are a little bit of gaps about what they’ll cover but that should be coming your way so you’re not felt too much at risk and then there are other benefits that flow from the legislation which come about as you need them. For instance as you get discharged home from any hospital there’s care than can be provided at home, as you may need support to get back to work there may be support with that. If you are studying there may be support to help you get back to school or to university. There is a tremendous amount of extended benefits that are available and it’s all about knowing which benefits you can access that makes it quite different as to what TAC will do for you.
Cindy: And how long do these benefits last?
Henry: Well, in some respects they can last for the remainder of your life, the medical and related expenses for medical treatment will last for the remainder of your life. The income benefits probably have for most people up to 3 years of a time period. You can get more than 3 years but you have to be quite seriously injured, quite severely injured in fact and then there are other benefits like home help and stuff that can be extended for the rest of your life. So the legislation has some stops and some extensions and knowing which ones are which are kind of important for the person injured.
Cindy: Henry, what if I wish to contest the decision made by TAC?
Henry: Well, TAC is making decisions all the time as a government agency and the way the system works is that government agencies are subject to review. They’re subject to review as a government agency at VCAT which is the Victorian Civil and Administrator Tribunal which has the authority to review decisions made by TAC and TAC in their letters to you will indicate that there are a number of ways that you can review them. You can review them by an internal review or by an application to VCAT. Now, internal reviews may be helpful, my experience has been that they’re not so helpful, VCAT applications there is a strict time period for that, you must make that application within 1 year of the time the decision is made. If you fail to do so you lose that right. If you ask like some people do, well, maybe I’ll ask for a review and maybe that will retrigger my time, no, you must go back to the first decision. So lots of people don’t contest decisions early on when they should.
Cindy: And do I need a lawyer to help me with my claim?
Henry: My experience has been that lawyers are extremely helpful in understanding the legislation, in getting access to the benefits that you need, in contesting decisions that are inappropriate. Most of all I think a good TAC lawyer will educate you on what the system can deliver. It is meant to deliver a lot so my recommendation for almost every person that I know is get a lawyer because we can make a vast difference in what TAC may deliver for you for the rest of your life.
Cindy: Very helpful information. Henry, thank you so much for being with us today.
Henry: My pleasure, Cindy.
Cindy: Until next time. This is Cindy Speaker for Victoria Law TV.