Does TAC cover bicycle accidents?
In Victoria, if you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident involving a motor vehicle accident, you may be able to lodge a TAC claim and obtain compensation.
If you’re a cyclist, you are covered by the TAC in the following circumstances;
- If you are hit by a motor vehicle while riding your bike (this includes being hit by cars, trams, buses, trains).
- If you suffer injury as a result of swerving to avoid a car.
- If you collide with a stationary vehicle.
- If you are injured as a result of a car opening its door.
- If you are injured as a result of debris on the road due to the driving of another vehicle.
How do I lodge a TAC claim if I was hit by a car while riding my bike?
There are three general ways of claim can be made with the TAC.
Call the TAC
The first way to lodge a claim – and the way that we recommend – is to call the TAC directly on 1300 654 329 between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm.
Tell the operator on the phone that you’ve been involved in an accident and that you wish to lodge a new claim.
The operator will then ask you several questions about your details, how the injury happened, whether there was police involvement, what medical treatment you’ve received etc.
The TAC will then send you out some material to complete. This material will include several forms to sign and an authority document which you need to complete if you have a legal representative.
Before you get on the phone to the TAC it’s a good idea to have all the information at hand that may be relevant.
This means if the matter was reported to police you should have the relevant details if possible. If police attended the scene you should provide the TAC with any relevant information relating to who attended.
If there are any witnesses to the accident then you should have their details.
You should also have the registration number of any vehicles involved.
You should have clear in your mind how the accident happened so you can clearly explain it to the TAC when asked.
Details of any doctors that you’ve seen should also be provided to the TAC, as should information relating to any hospitals that you attended.
If the accident involved public transport, e.g. a train, bus or tram then you should be in a position to provide the TAC with the name of the public transport operator, the name of the public transport driver (if known) and details of the accident including any vehicle number, location, route of travel, date and time of travel.
If you’ve had or are likely to have some time off work, then you need to provide the TAC with employment/income details so you can be compensated.
If you are not able to provide the TAC with some information, that’s okay you can still call them up and they can lodge a claim for you and you are always able to provide them with further information down the track.
In my opinion, it’s better to lodge a TAC claim sooner rather than later to ensure that you can claim any benefits that you are entitled to the help you get back on your feet after an accident.
Online claim lodgement
The second way to lodge a TAC claim is to use the TAC‘s online lodgement form. This allows injured people to lodge TAC claims online.
You will need all of the information referred to above in order to lodge the claim online.
Please note that if you do not have all of the information then lodging an online claim will be difficult because the claim won’t allow you to proceed unless you have certain information.
For this reason I tell my clients to contact the TAC directly on the phone because it is just easier and if you have any questions or need assistance the person from the TAC can You some guidance.
Hospital can lodge a TAC claim for you
The final way that a TAC claim can be lodged is if you attended a hospital, sometimes the hospital will lodge a claim on your behalf.
They do this because they want to ensure that they get paid for the services that they provide to you.
Many times, you will not be told that a TAC claim has been lodged by the hospital on your behalf.
In order to find out whether a claim has been lodged, you should contact the hospital and ask them or alternatively you can telephone the TAC and ask them whether they have a record of a claim being lodged on your behalf.
How do I prove that the car driver was at fault?
Determining who is at fault for a car accident can be problematic sometimes.
The key thing is the evidence.
What does the evidence say?
For example, are there witnesses who saw the accident or the aftermath – and if so what did they say?
Did the driver of the vehicle admit fault after the accident? Did the driver the vehicle say sorry?
Many times after an accident involving a cyclist, police will attend the scene. The police will generally provide a report and in that report they will usually note who they believed was at fault for the accident. This police accident report will be very important during the life of your TAC claim.
Ultimately, if there is a dispute as to who was responsible for the accident, this may need to be worked out as your matter goes along and you may need the assistance of a lawyer.
In these types of cases, if no agreement can be reached as to fault, it is possible that you could end up in court. Keep in mind however that the odds are in your favour that if you push your TAC claim you will not end up in court as most cases do not get to court.
Also keep in mind that fault is only relevant in relation to one component of a TAC claim – a common law lump sum claim.
In order to claim medical expenses, weekly payments and an impairment lump sum following a cycling accident, you do not need to show fault on behalf of someone else.
What if I was at fault for the accident in some way?
This is a complex question in some respects.
As mentioned above, Victoria has what’s called a no fault compensation scheme.
This means that even if you were 100% at fault for the accident, you are still entitled to lodge a TAC claim and have some benefits paid.
The benefits that you would be entitled to pursue are weekly payments of compensation if your income is impacted because of the injury or injuries that you sustained in the accident.
You’re able to have your reasonable medical expenses paid.
You’re also able to pursue a lump sum claim for permanent impairment called a claim for impairment benefits.
If you were at fault however you are not able to pursue a common law claim for damages.
In order to succeed in a common-law claim for damages you need to show that someone else’s negligence caused your injury.
What if the driver that hit me cannot be identified?
If the driver that hit you cannot be identified, then that will not impact on you lodging a TAC claim.
Don’t let anyone tell you that if you cannot identify the driver, that you cannot lodge a claim.
You should ensure to lodge a claim with the TAC as soon as possible and you should also report the accident to police so they can investigate the matter and perhaps identify the driver.
How long do I have to lodge the TAC claim after being involved in a bicycle accident?
You have 12 months to lodge a claim from the date of your accident,
Or 12 months from when an injury from your accident becomes evident.
In some cases, the TAC will consider a claim that is made outside the 12 month period if reasonable grounds exist for the delay in making a claim and if the claim is made within three years of the accident or the date when the injury first manifests itself.
What is my TAC claim is rejected?
If the TAC rejects your claim, then you can ask them initially to do an informal review.
This involves someone within the TAC (who didn’t make the original decision) reviewing the matter and then making a decision on the claim again.
The second option is to lodge a dispute or application which is something that is normally done with a lawyer. This is the option that we recommend.
If the matter doesn’t resolve by either of the above avenues, then you can pursue the decision to reject your TAC claim to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
If you elect to go down the VCAT route then you should have a lawyer that can assist you with this.
Keep in mind that you have 12 months from the date of the decision to reject your claim in order to pursue the matter to VCAT.
Will the TAC cover damage to my bike?
Unfortunately, the TAC will not pay for the cost of repair or replacement of your bike.
You must contact the at fault driver of the vehicle and ask them for payment.
Initially, we’d suggest you do so informally, but in writing making sure to keep a record of their response.
If payment for repair or replacement is not forthcoming, then you should consider sending them a letter of demand either written by yourself or having a lawyer do so.
You should ask the at fault driver to forward your correspondence to their insurance company if they have one.
If payment is then not made to you, you have the option of pursuing the matter further to court but you need to keep in mind that it can costly exercise to do so.
So if your bike is worth $500, keep in mind that it will cost you roughly that amount just to issue proceedings in court. However, if your bike is worth $5000 then it may be worth doing so.
If I’ve been hit by a car while riding my bike, what does the TAC cover me for?
Payment of medical and like expenses
These are any reasonable medical and like expenses that relate to the treatment of any injuries that you sustained in the accident.
This might include GP attendances, physiotherapy, medication, specialist appointments, surgery, and any travel expenses relating to attendances for treatment.
Payment of loss of earnings benefits
If you can’t work at all because of your accident and the injuries that you sustained, or there is reduction in your ability to work, than the TAC will pay you income benefits for up to 3 years post accident.
In some cases they will pay beyond three years but this is in only a very limited number of cases.
An impairment benefit lump sum claim
This is a lump sum claim where it is open to pursue if as a consequence of the accident you are left with some form of permanent impairment.
You do not need to prove that someone else was at fault in order to pursue this claim.
It is it enough that you suffered an injury or injuries in an accident.
Even if you were at fault for the accident, the law says that you can pursue an impairment claim (but not in all cases of fault).
In order to pursue an impairment claim you need to complete an impairment claim form.
You need to provide the TAC with medical information in support of your claim, which will include reports from your doctor’s and any health practitioners that have seen you.
If you have a lawyer, they will likely have organised for you to see medico legal doctors who will have assessed your injuries and put percentage figures on your injuries. They will grade them.
If you do not have a lawyer then it’s likely that you will not have seen medicolegal doctors and the TAC will then organise appointments for you to be assessed so your injuries can be graded.
These percentage figures are very important.
The percentage figures will get combined into one overall figure which then matches up with a compensation amount.
In order to succeed in this claim you need to be assessed as having a greater than 10% whole person impairment rating.
Before proceeding with the claim all injuries that you are claiming that relate to the cycling accident need to be stable, in that they are not getting any better not getting any worse.
This is because you are getting assessed and compensated for permanent impairment and the law needs to know what that permanent impairment actually is before you can be compensated.
Common law lump sum claim
This is another lump sum claim however it is different to an impairment claim.
With an impairment claim, you do not need to show that someone else was a fault in order to succeed in the claim.
Whereas with a common-law claim for damages, you do.
That is, you need to show that as a consequence of someone else’s negligence, you suffered injury.
Broadly speaking there are two things that must be proven to succeed in a common-law claim for damages.
The first as mentioned above is it someone else was negligent and that as a consequence of their negligence you suffered injury.
The second thing is that you have a serious injury.
This means that as a consequence of the accident, and injury that you suffered can be classed as a serious injury.
This is a legal term but a good way to determine whether you have a serious injury is to think about how you were before the injury and think about how you are now.
The bigger the difference between then and now, the more likely you are to have a serious injury.
When considering whether you have a serious injury, things such as the impact on your life, activities of daily living, sleep, ability to work, ability to engage in activities such as sports and recreation activities – all of these things considered.
The bigger the impact on your life, the more likely you are to have a serious injury and to satisfy the test.
If you are classed as having a serious injury and if negligence exists, then you will likely succeed in a common law claim for damages relating to your cycling accident.
You can be compensated for pain and suffering alone, which is the pain and suffering that you have gone through and will go through as a consequence of the accident. You can also be compensated for pain and suffering and economic loss.
Economic loss aims to compensate you for any loss of earnings that you have suffered as a consequence of the accident and will likely suffer into the future.
Keep in mind however that you will not be compensated dollar for dollar if you are entitled to be compensated for loss of earnings.
Instead there are formulas that are involved when calculating the appropriate loss of earnings.
The law does the best that it can take into account that you may not have worked until retirement age for example or unfortunately you may not have lived until retirement age so these things need to be taken into account.
If you want to read more about what the TAC covers, you can do so here.
If you’re wondering whether the TAC covers bicycle accidents – the good news is that in many instances they do.
If you’ve been involved in a bicycle accident in Victoria and the accident involved a vehicle – which includes cars, trams, busses and trains – it is likely that you’ll be covered by the TAC system.
This also extends to swerving being involved in an accident trying to avoid a car, being hit by an opening car door, or being involved in an accident due to debris being on the road.
Fault is not required to lodge a TAC claim and have it accepted following a cycling accident.
You do not need to show fault on behalf of another party to claim medical expenses, income payments or an impairment lump sum. You do however need to show fault if you are to succeed in a common law damages claim.
If you have been involved in a cycling accident, you should lodge a TAC claim as soon as possible after the accident.