ACT compulsory third party insurance claims: proposed government reform

For some time, the ACT government has indicated a preference to reform the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) system in the ACT. The CTP scheme, as it is currently structured, requires each registered motor vehicle to have compulsory insurance so that, if the vehicle is involved in an accident, and injury is caused, the CTP policy protects the driver and owner of the vehicle from claims that may arise from the accident. The scheme is only available if an injured party was not at fault. There are also limits to liability depending where the accident occurred.
Richard Faulks, Managing Director of Snedden Hall & Gallop and highly experienced compensation lawyer, discusses the existing CTP system, the government’s ACT CTP citizen jury and the rights of ACT accident victims.
The ACT system has provided proper compensation for people injured in these circumstances, in the sense that an injured party, who is not at fault, is able to receive payment for lost income or earning capacity, medical and other rehabilitation costs, compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, and in some circumstances, compensation for domestic and nursing assistance provided by family or friends.
Other jurisdictions in Australia have significantly restricted the entitlements of motor vehicle accident victims and in many cases, such victims receive no compensation for pain and suffering and limited entitlements in relation to other losses. The ACT Government has discussed equivalent changes here. Up until now, the Opposition (Liberal Party) and Greens in the ACT have opposed changes to the ACT scheme on the basis that there is no justification for modifying or restricting the rights of ACT road users in the way that the government has previously proposed.
The latest proposal from the ACT government is what they are calling a deliberative engagement with stakeholders to ascertain whether the scheme should be modified. This involves using an outside party to facilitate what is being called a “citizens’ jury” to explore what changes might be made to the system, but with the clear understanding that the government would not accept any changes that resulted in a greater cost to the system or an increase in premiums.
The ACT CTP citizen jury is proposed to exclude lawyers and current claimants, as well as some other classes of people. The concerning part about that is if the jury members have never been directly involved in claims and understand what accident victims have experienced, it may be difficult for them to appreciate the importance of the rights currently retained by ACT residents. With the government’s initial direction about the process, and the clear directive that no additional cost to the scheme would be accepted, the likely outcome is a restriction of benefits in order to either reduce premiums or to allow some expansion of the scheme to cover those injured when at fault or in circumstances where no fault can be proved, such as when colliding with a kangaroo.
What can you do? The government has set a very tight timetable for the appointment of the jury and the so called deliberative process. The 50-member jury will be chosen from those who respond to a random mailout in early September to 6,000 Canberra households. It is very important that all ACT citizens who have experienced motor vehicle accident injuries and possibly had claims in the past, take the opportunity to express to the government the desirability of retaining the current rights for those injured as a result of the fault of others. If you’re not on the jury but want to be involved, you can complete an online survey and provide feedback that will also be considered by the jury.
Snedden Hall & Gallop will be actively involved in advocating for the rights of ACT accident victims and would be happy to present your views on the matter if you would like us to do so. Alternatively, you can contact the ACT government directly to provide your views. If you need more information about the ACT CTP citizen jury, please feel free to contact us by phone on (02) 6285 8000 or by email. You can see details of our compensation representation here.