Can you reopen a TAC claim after settlement? (Vic)
Firstly, let’s figure out exactly what we’re talking about.
When talking about a settlement, we could be talking about an agreement reached with that TAC in relation to medical and like expenses or weekly payments.
We could also be talking about an impairment benefit payment or a common law settlement.
Medical and like expenses
Sometimes that TAC will make a decision to reduce or stop your entitlement to either medical and like expenses, or weekly payments.
When this happens the usual course of action is that you challenge that TAC decision through your lawyer and a set process is followed to try and resolve the issue.
There can be a number of different ways to resolve these disputes. There can be what we might call ‘open-ended settlements’ which could be as an example, that that TAC pay for a further five physiotherapy sessions and then review the entitlement to physiotherapy again.
A settlement that isn’t open ended we could call a ‘final settlement’.
As an example of a final settlement, this could be where a further 10 physiotherapy sessions are paid for by that TAC but this is done on the basis that they will not pay for any further physiotherapy after that time.
When an agreement is reached with TAC, they will require you to sign a release document.
This is a written agreement between the parties that sets out the terms of the settlement.
One of the terms of settlement will be whether the decision is final or not (see above regarding open-ended settlements and final settlements).
It is very unlikely that if you reached a final settlement where a limited number of treatments where to be provided that you would be able to reopen the issue with that TAC.
It could be possible that in some very limited circumstances that TAC may consider reopening your entitlement.
As an example, let’s say the injury site became infected and you then required further surgery, given the significant change in circumstances that TAC may give consideration to providing you with further physiotherapy.
Impairment benefit lump sum
The same principles apply as above.
When you go through the impairment lump sum process you will generally at the conclusion of the matter, before payment is made to you, sign a release document that finalises your entitlement to an impairment benefit.
You do have the option of not signing a release, this will however increase costs that you will pay to your lawyers as they will receive a lower amount of costs from the TAC.
If no release is signed and a new injury is found at a later time then it is possible that you may be able to apply for and in some cases increase your impairment benefit amount.
If a release was signed then your entitlement to any further impairment lump sum is finalised and it is very unlikely that you would ever be able to claim any further impairment lump sum.
The settlement of your impairment benefit does however have no impact on your entitlement to medical and like expenses, weekly payments or a common law claim.
This means that your claim is not finalised and you do not need to reopen the claim.
Common law claims
A common law claim is generally the final piece of a TAC matter.
If there is fault on behalf of another party and if your injuries are bad enough, you may be able to bring a claim for common law damages.
In any common law settlement, the TAC will require you to sign a release.
Once the release is signed that will finalise forever your entitlement to common law damages.
There are extremely limited circumstances in which a common law settlement could be reopened by the injured person.
This does not include the discovery of further injuries by you at a later time, or worsening of injuries that were included in the settlement.
A common law settlement does not affect your entitlement to medical and like expenses.
It may affect your entitlement to weekly payments depending upon whether your common law settlement included a payment for economic loss, or was limited to pain and suffering only.