Cindy: Government insurance schemes are a longstanding feature of the Victorian legal community. The schemes cover accidents at work and involving a motor vehicle. While there is a considerable amount of attention given to safety measures to avoid accidents little attention is given to educating those injured to understand the full scope of the benefits that are available to them once injured and so most persons injured never make any claim for those benefits. My guest today is Henry Carus and he’s going to talk with us about these unclaimed benefits. So, Henry, thanks for being here today.
Henry: It’s my pleasure, Cindy.
Cindy: Well, Henry, what kind of benefits are we talking about?
Henry: Look, the first thing people need to understand is that the Common Law in Australia and in Victoria has been changed so that what we used to be able to seek in terms of compensation for someone to get these kind of benefits is not available to you and instead the government schemes are required to give them to you and they cover almost all aspects although your life has been changed. For instance, it can cover things like you can’t take care of yourself at home, you can’t take care of your garden, you can’t take care of your home, you can’t walk your dog, you need certain equipment, you need to travel. All of these things that have changed by reason of your accident are covered under these insurance schemes as benefits provided under the legislation.
Cindy: Now, are the benefits the same for both work cover and TAC?
Henry: When one looks at the two legislations there is tremendous similarity. There’s a lot of cohesion in the thinking processes between one legislation and the other and that’s because they’re coming from the same government that has created both and is a bit of copying from one to the other. How they are actually applied and how long they can last for vary under each of the legislations and I have to say from experience how much people actually use them when they’re injured either at work or in a motor vehicle.
Cindy: Henry, how important are these benefits?
Henry: Look, they’re crucial to having some semblance of a normal life because up until the moment your serious injury occurred or your accident occurred you’re able to take care of everything. You can go clean your car, you can go walk your dog, you could take a shower, and suddenly all of that has changed and either you’re going to demand all of these services and all of these benefits from your family members as an extra burden on their lives or you’re going to have to get it from the government through these schemes. And the average person actually doesn’t understand that these benefits are an entitlement they’re actually something that they deserve to have in order to help them with their injury.
Cindy: So let me make sure I understand this. You’re saying that there are many benefits available to injured people and yet they are very often not getting them because they don’t know that they’re available. So there’s apparently an education and awareness problem here.
Henry: Look, it’s a sad combination of two factors. One, the various schemes are government driven so their primary focus is to reduce and minimize the extent of how often they have to pay for these benefits. So a lot of their advertising campaign out on the public is about safety measures, what they can do to avoid accidents, what they can do minimize the scope of an accident. The flip side of the coin is when you finally do get injured you’re not being told what these benefits are, you’re not being educated on what’s made available because that’s a cost to the system, that’s a cost to these schemes and the last thing they want is and I’d be blunt, a fully educated populous who’s going to demand a full extent of these benefits because that will really drain these schemes in providing these benefits. You really take them to task and that’s not where their energy is being put at the moment.
Cindy: Right. It sounds rather complex. Can the average injured person sort this all out on their own?
Henry: No. I am practicing this for 30 years I still struggle to understand some aspects of the legislation. I sit there in puzzlement sometimes about to what extent can I expand the scope of the benefits yet the average person 90% of them involved in these kind of accidents are left on their own to try to sort this out some of the schemes provide a whole layer of website information brochures and policies, half of them are either ineffective in giving the information or sometimes misleading in the extent of what these benefits are available. So, if you’re in this world of either a work accident or a motor vehicle accident, trying to do it your own is going to be really difficult.
Cindy: So what is your recommendation for that injured person? What should they do?
Henry: They’ve got nothing to lose in contacting a personal injury lawyer. Absolutely nothing. We work the vast majority of us on a no-win no-fee arrangement which means they don’t have to pay for our services unless we deliver to them some compensation down the road. So we engage in a tremendous amount of free legal advice. I take care of clients all the time who just come in, their matters are relatively simple, they need some advice, they need some information, we help them with their benefits, and they actually get on with their lives, they recover and they don’t get compensation and we don’t charge them for our services. Yet for that time period whether it’s 6 months or a year we’ve balanced the scale for them. We’ve given them the amount of information and the support so they can get the benefits they need. Now that arrangement may seem a bit odd but the goodwill we generate among the people that we deal with makes us really a very productive firm. We understand that our service is a service to an injured person.
Cindy: And how can they reach you, Henry?
Henry: We’ve got a website, hcalawyers.com.au. We’ve got a phone number, 900-1-1318. We’ve got 24 hour services essentially either by email or by leaving a message we will get back to you. All they need to do is just look for our firm, Henry Carus and Associates and they’ll find us.
Cindy: Very good information. Henry, thank you for being with us today.
Henry: My pleasure, Cindy. My pleasure.
Cindy: Until next time. This is Cindy Speaker for Victoria Law TV.