Unable to work after a car accident – what are the options?
Unfortunately, a consequence of many car accidents is that a persons ability to work is impacted.
If the accident in which you were involved in is covered by the TAC then you may be entitled to assistance if you are not able to work or if your ability to work has been impacted.
This page will explore that further.
If as a consequence of the accident you are not able to work at all or you are not able to work to the extent that you were prior to the accident, then you may be entitled to the payment of income benefits from the TAC.
We have written about TAC income benefits in detail here should you wish to read more.
In a nutshell however, you can claim loss of earnings from the TAC for up to 3 years after the accident.
The maximum amount that TAC can pay per week for income benefits is $1430 gross.
If you are not able to work at all due to the accident, the TAC is required to pay 80% of the average of your pre-accident earnings taken over 12 months before the accident.
If you don’t have 12 months of earnings prior to the accident, then its of the average of what period you do have.
If you’re able to do some work but not work to the extent that you are working pre-injury, the TAC will pay 85% of the difference between what you are earning and your income prior to the accident.
If you have a dependent or more than one dependent, then the figures that you will be paid are increased somewhat.
TAC will pay income benefits for up to 3 years after the accident or three years from when an injury first manifests itself after the accident.
People are entitled to be paid income payments from the TAC beyond the three year mark if they have been assessed as having a 50% or greater whole person impairment rating.
This assessment of whole person impairment is usually performed in relation to an impairment lump sum claim.
If you’re not able to work or if your ability to work has been impacted following an accident it’s highly likely that you will need medical treatment.
Keep in mind that the TAC will likely be responsible for paying for your medical expenses.
You can read all about the TAC and medical expenses here.
If you’re not able to work or if your ability to work is impacted following the motor vehicle accident, one option open to you is to take sick leave.
Our advice in general however is not to use your sick leave if you’ve been involved in a motor vehicle accident.
You should rely on the TAC to assist you in terms of income.
You should keep your sick leave for those occasions when you have an illness or injury that is not related to your employment and is not related to a motor vehicle accident.
You should utilise TAC benefits.
Whether you realise it or not, every year that you pay your vehicle registration you’ve been paying for TAC insurance. It actually makes up a significant part of your yearly vehicle registration cost.
And for this reason, it’s our advice to people that contact us for legal advice that wherever possible they should claim TAC benefits if they’ve been involved in an accident because that’s what the insurance is for.
If however you have a significant amount of sick leave accrued that you want to access following a motor vehicle accident, then that’s fine you can do that.
Sick leave will not in most cases be paid when a person leaves a job either by way of resignation or termination so if you wish to use up sick leave simply because you think it’s going to be wasted anyway and you don’t want the perceived hassle of a TAC claim, then sick leave may be something you could consider.
However as mentioned above a TAC claim is what we would recommend and by not lodging a TAC claim and using sick leave, you will not be entitled to have your medical expenses paid or potentially obtain lump sum compensation for any injuries suffered.
Another option open to you if you are unable to work or your ability to work has been impacted following an accident on the road is to access your income protection.
Income protection is a type of insurance that is designed to pay you an income on a regular basis if you’re not able to work because you’ve suffered an injury or illness.
One reason to consider taking income protection is, like TAC insurance, you’ve paid for income protection because you’ve either taken out a standalone policy or because you have it connected to your superannuation policy.
Either way you’ll be paying a regular payment for income protection coverage so one argument is that you may as well use it.
This can be a good option if you are self employed and don’t want to lodge a TAC claim for whatever reason. You obviously do not have sick leave or any other employment entitlements to access.
However, there may be a waiting period before income payments commence depending upon what your particular policy says.
It could for example be a couple of months of waiting before you actually get paid.
And when you do get paid, you may only be paid a percentage of your income. For example, it could be 70% to 85% of your normal income.
Another consideration with income protection is that if you require an extended period of time off work, income protection coverage may cease while you still require financial help.
A final consideration with using income protection is that, like accessing sick leave, you will not have your medical expenses paid and nor will you be entitled to pursue lump sum compensation like you would if you lodged a TAC claim.
A TPD claim is a total and permanent disability claim which, like income protection, is an insurance component that may be attached to your superannuation.
It is, like income protection, insurance coverage that you’ve been paying for.
If you are not able to work and this is likely to continue, then it is open to you to pursue a TPD claim.
You can pursue a TPD claim regardless as to whether you lodge a TAC claim or not.
If however you need income as soon as possible after a motor vehicle accident because your ability to work has been impacted, don’t rely on a TPD claim for this.
Generally speaking a TPD claim is not something that gets processed quickly and can take many months before a decision is made by the fund.
Common law lump sum claim
If you would like to lodge a TAC claim after an accident, it is possible that you may also have an entitlement to a common law lump sum claim.
You can read about common-law claims here.
If you are successful in claiming compensation under a common law claim there are two categories of compensation that you can be compensated for.
The first is pain and suffering.
The second is loss of earnings.
If your ability to work has been impacted by an accident, whether that means you can’t work at all or you can’t work to the extent that you were working pre accident, then this can be taken into account in a loss of earnings claim under a common law claim.
What you are being compensated for is the difference between what you likely could’ve earned if you had not been injured in the accident and what you can reasonably be expected to earn, projecting to retirement age.
If your ability to work has been impacted following an accident on the road, there are a few options open to you.
The option that we recommend in almost all cases is to lodge a TAC claim. The TAC claim will provide you with some assistance in terms of income benefits and will also enable you to get your reasonable medical expenses paid.
You may also be entitled to pursue a common law lump sum claim and be compensated for loss of earnings. This is the loss of earnings that you’ve experienced since the accident and may experience into the future.
However, if you don’t want to lodge a TAC claim there are other options open to you.
You could elect to take sick leave, or access other employment entitlements.
You could pursue a claim for income protection or total and permanent disablement.
These options are open to you, however we reiterate that in almost all cases if you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident you should lodge a TAC claim because it will give you the most assistance out of all of the available options.
Also, you have been paying TAC insurance every time that you have paid your yearly vehicle registration fee so you may as well use the insurance.