I was a passenger in a car accident and was injured
If you were a passenger and you suffered injury, you are entitled to lodge a TAC claim and be paid benefits just like anyone else that is injured in a motor vehicle accident.
Your entitlements are the same as if you were involved in an accident as a driver of a vehicle.
That is, you are entitled to the payment of weekly payments of compensation if you are not able to work or if your ability to work has been impacted.
You’re entitled to the payment of medical expenses if you need treatment for injury sustained in the accident.
You’re also entitled to pursue an impairment claim lump sum if you’ve suffered a permanent impairment as a consequence of the accident.
Finally, if there was negligence on behalf of the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling, or on behalf of another road user, you are able to pursue a common law claim for damages.
This is another lump sum claim in which you can be compensated for the pain and suffering that you have experienced as a consequence of the accident and the pain and suffering that you may experience into the future.
You can also be compensated for any loss of earnings that you’ve experienced and may experience in the future.
Who pays benefits if I was a passenger and the driver of the vehicle in which I was travelling was at fault?
If you were injured and the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling was at fault, the TAC is responsible for the payment of any benefits.
This includes payment of your no fault benefits (income payments, medical expenses, impairment benefit lump sum) and a common law claim for damages.
In relation to a common law claim for damages, out of the entitlements referred to above, this is the only entitlement in which you need to show that someone was at fault in order to claim.
So if you wish to pursue a common law claim for damages, you would need to show that the driver of the vehicle in which you were travelling was at fault in some way.
For example, if the driver of the vehicle drove off the road after missing a bend because they were texting – this would be considered negligent.
If you are successful in pursuing a common law claim against the negligent driver, any compensation amount payable to you would be paid for by the TAC and not the negligent driver.
The negligent driver would be named as the defendant in the matter if it proceeded to court, but they would not be required to compensate you in any way.
This is because the TAC indemnifies all drivers in Victoria when they pay for their car registration.
If the matter proceeds to court, then there is a possibility that the driver of the vehicle may be required to give evidence.
However keep in mind that this is not always the case.
For example, there are different court hearings that can occur during the life of a common law claim.
One such hearing is in relation to whether the injuries that you have suffered are serious or not.
In a court case in relation to this, negligence is not a key consideration and therefore the driver of the vehicle will not be required at court.
However, if there is a dispute regarding negligence, then it is possible that the at fault driver may end up in court.
This also applies if there is a dispute as to how negligent one party was versus the other. For example, one party may argue that they were 20% responsible and the other party was 80% responsible, whereas the other party will argue that they were both 50% responsible.
In cases such as this there is a possibility that the matter may end up in court.
Even if the matter does end up in court, the at fault driver is not required to pay any costs associated with representation.
This includes legal costs or court costs.
This is because, as mentioned above, the TAC indemnifies Victorian drivers in the event of accidents in which injuries are sustained.
Who pays benefits when someone else, other than the driver of the vehicle in which I was travelling, was at fault?
As above, the TAC would be responsible for the payment of any benefits in this instance.
The TAC would indemnify the at fault driver and pay any benefits that you are entitled to under the TAC scheme.
Both you and the driver would be able to pursue a common law damages claim against the negligent driver.
Can a passenger sue a not at fault driver for injuries?
No, in order to sue a driver for the injuries that you suffered, you need to show that driver was negligent in some way.
That could mean, for example, that that due to their in attention, they drifted off the road and that caused the accident.
Or they might have been speeding.
There are a number of possible reasons as to why someone may be considered to be negligent in a road accident.
But even if, as mentioned above, the driver was at fault, although you can sue them, the TAC will indemnify them and pay any benefits to you.
What if no one was responsible for my injuries?
Even if no one was responsible for your injuries – that is it was a genuine accident and no one else to blame, you are still able to pursue and have accepted a TAC claim.
An example of a case in which no one is responsible may be if you are a passenger in a car driving along the road at night and a kangaroo jumps out and the driver has to take evasive action and acts reasonably but is unable to avoid crashing the vehicle.
In this case the driver is not likely to be considered to be negligent.
Despite this, you are able to still pursue a TAC claim and have any medical expenses paid, as well as receive payment for any loss of income up to three years post accident (in certain cases beyond three years).
You’re also able to pursue an impairment benefit lump sum claim if you’ve suffered permanent impairment as a consequence of the accident.
You would however not be entitled to a common law damages claim.
What to do as a passenger in a car accident and injured?
If you are a passenger in a car accident and you’ve been injured, in order to initiate a TAC claim you need to contact the TAC.
A TAC claim can be lodged in one of three ways:
The first way to lodge a claim as a passenger is is by calling the TAC.
Tell the person that you speak to that you wish to lodge a new TAC claim.
They will then ask you some questions about what happened. They’ll want to know about what injuries you suffered, whether the accident was reported to police or whether they attended the scene.
They’ll also want you to provide the details of any other vehicles involved, and the details of any witnesses.
They will then send you out some material to sign and return to them.
The second way to lodge a claim is by filling out the TAC’s online claim lodgement form which can be found on their website.
Keep in mind that if you elect to lodge a claim online, you need to have all relevant material and information at hand.
The third way for a claim to be lodged is by the hospital if you attended one after the accident.
Some hospitals will automatically lodge a claim on your behalf. They however sometimes won’t tell you that they’ve done this.
Hospitals lodge claims to ensure that they get paid for the services that they provide.
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident as a passenger in a vehicle, then you’re entitled to the same entitlements as a driver of a vehicle.
You do not need to show that another party was at fault for the accident, say the driver of the vehicle or another road user, to have a TAC claim accepted.
If the TAC claim is accepted, you’re entitled to the payment of medical expenses and income payments.
You can also pursue an impairment lump sum.
If there was negligence on behalf of another party, whether that be negligence on behalf of the driver of the car in which you were travelling, or another road user, then you may also be entitled to a common law lump sum claim.