All about TAC injury stability
In order to pursue certain entitlements under a TAC claim, your injury or injuries that you suffered in the accident need to be stabilised.
This page will explore the issue of injury stabilisation.
What is injury stabilisation?
A simple way to explain injury stabilisation is that injury an has played out.
That is, it is not likely to improve or deteriorate significantly over time, either with or without treatment. It is not getting significantly better, or worse.
Essentially, the injury has plateaued in terms of recovery.
How long after the accident is an injury considered stable?
The TAC considers an injury to be stable, generally speaking, a minimum of twelve months post accident.
Sometimes stabilisation can occur quicker than this, other times it can take longer depending upon the nature of the injury and treatment required.
What aspects of a TAC claim require injury stability?
First things first, it’s important to be aware that your injuries do not need to be stable in order to lodge and have a TAC claim accepted.
After an accident, you should lodge a TAC claim as soon as possible.
Stability is not relevant in this regard and your claim will be determined regardless as to whether your injury or injuries have stabilised.
In order to claim medical expenses, again, your injuries do not need to be stabilised.
Likewise, you’re able to claim income benefits regardless as to whether your injuries have stabilised.
In order to pursue an impairment benefit lump sum claim, which you can read about here, your injuries need to be stable.
That is, all injuries that you suffered in the accident that you wish to claim under an impairment benefit must be stabilised.
This also includes any consequential injuries or conditions that you might wish to claim.
For example, say that you suffered a physical injury in the accident and this requires you to take a particular type of medication for an extended period of time.
This medication causes intestinal damage. This is a consequential injury/condition that you may also be able to claim as part of an impairment benefit and you would need to wait until this condition has stabilised if you wanted to include it in your impairment claim.
Common law damages
As with an impairment claim, in order to pursue a claim for common law damages your injuries need to be stabilised.
Why do injuries need to be stabilised?
For the purposes of an impairment claim in a common law claim, it’s important that injuries have stabilised because what you’re getting compensated for is permanent impairment and the ongoing impact the injury or injuries will have on you.
So with an impairment claim, all of your accident related injuries and conditions are assessed by doctors, who put percentage figures on them.
These percentage figures then get combined into one overall figure called you whole person impairment rating.
Your injuries need to be stable so the relevant doctors can perform these assessments.
With a common law claim, you are painting a before and after picture as to how you were before the injury and how you are now and into the future.
And for an ‘after’ picture to be accurate, your injury or injuries need to be stable.
Because, what you’re getting compensated for is the impact the injury or injuries have on your life.
Here’s a simple example:
Lets say that you suffered a shoulder injury in the accident.
And that as a result, you are no longer able to play tennis.
However, a surgeon opines that if you have surgery on the shoulder, you would likely regain almost all of your range of motion in your shoulder and your pain levels would be significantly reduced.
You elect to have the surgery and obtain a significant amount of improvement, to such an extent that you’re able to get back to playing tennis.
Your injury would be considered stable after you’d recovered from the surgery.
The accurate ‘after’ picture in terms of impact of the injury on your life would be the one after the surgery.
In what instances would an injury not be considered stable by the TAC?
When the injury is likely to improve or worsen, with or without treatment.
Or, if you intend to undergo treatment that might alter your injury, your injury would not be considered stable.
Using the example referred to above, let’s say that you have a shoulder injury that you suffered in the accident and you see a surgeon and the surgeon says that you should undergo an operation on the shoulder as soon as possible.
Even though 12 months or more might have passed since the accident, for the purposes of your impairment claim and common law claim, your injury would not be considered stable if you intend to undergo the surgery.
When a prognosis of the injury is unknown.
Sometimes a prognosis of an injury isn’t known and in this instance an injury could not be considered stable.
Further time will likely be needed and medical comment obtained to determine a prognosis.
Finally, an injury will not be considered stable when it occurred less than twelve months ago.
Who determines if my injury is stable?
Whether an injury is stable or not for the purposes of an impairment claim or common law claim depends on medical opinion.
This could include the opinion of your treatment doctor – which could be a GP or a specialist, or it could also be an opinion from a medical assessor that you’ve seen on behalf of the TAC or your lawyer (if you have one).
Before you are able to pursue an impairment claim and a common law claim, all injuries that you wish to claim need to be stable.
An injury is stable when it is not getting significantly better or worse. That is, it has plateaued in recovery.
The TAC consider an injury to be stable after a minimum of twelve months have passed since the accident.
Whether an injury is stable or not depends upon medical opinion.