Being involved in a transport accident can have a long-term effect on both your physical and psychological health. In extreme cases, this can lead to a permanent loss of function and movement, meaning the injured party is unable to go back to their usual job – or any job at all.
In such a case, this person is eligible to impairment benefits, as long as their impairment is assessed as being at 11% or more. This payment is made as a lump sum and is additional to ongoing benefits you receive from the TAC.
What is meant by the term “impairment”?
In legal terms, “impairment” is used to describe a permanent psychological or physical injury that occurs as a result of an accident. This could include:
- Damage to the brain
- A joint injury that affects movement
- Damage to the spinal cord
- Loss of limbs
- A permanent psychological condition, such as depression or post-traumatic stress
Other injuries that are not permanent, such as a broken leg or whiplash, would not render the injured person as eligible for this payment.
How is impairment assessed?
Your state can only be assessed by a medical professional once it is considered stable, i.e. not expected to get better or worse. If your condition can be improved or cured by surgery or medicine, you will also not be able to claim for impairment benefits.
During the assessment, you’ll undergo tests from a specialised medical expert known as an Independent Impairment Assessor. They’ll check your injuries according to specific guidelines and compare the results against what is normal. Based on this evaluation, the injury will be given a percentage rating.
Your rating is then passed to the TAC who will assess your case to determine whether you’re eligible for impairment benefits and if so, how much.
How much money will you receive?
The TAC has made public a table to show what they will pay for impairment benefits for accidents on or after 16th December 2004.
The table lays out how much benefit you are entitled to, based on your level of impairment. The TAC automatically indexes these benefits at the start of each financial year and may increase lump sums in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
The current table was updated on 1st July 2018 and clearly shows how much compensation a person is entitled to, ranging from 11% impairment rate to 100% impairment rate.
In other words, if your impairment level is assessed as being 10% or less, you won’t be entitled to a lump sum. If you are 100% impaired, you will receive $352,460 from the TAC.
Each injury is placed into a category, depending on its severity. Categories of impairment begin at category I, signalling no signs of injury. Category IV is 20-24% whole person impairment.
Things you need to know about your claim
u-Law can support you throughout the entire claims process to ensure you lodge your claim accurately and receive the correct compensation for your injuries. There are some things you need to know when applying for impairment benefits, including:
- You can only make the claim once. If your condition gets worse, you’re not permitted to make a further claim to try to increase your payments. That’s why it’s important to get it right first time and ensure your condition has stabilised before claiming.
- You may still be entitled to other compensation. If you’ve been medically assessed as having less than 11% whole person impairment, you won’t be entitled to a lump sum. However, this won’t affect your other weekly benefits and expense cover.
- Unlawful drivers may not be eligible. If you became permanently impaired and were driving under dangerous circumstances, you may not be eligible for impairment benefits. For example, if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol and didn’t have proper control of the vehicle.
How to claim for impairment benefits
Once your condition is stable or substantially stable, and cannot be improved by surgery or medicine, you can begin the application process. Either the TAC will contact you, or you can get in touch yourself to discuss your situation.
You’ll need to provide the medical documents provided by your doctor, so the TAC can determine if you have 11% or more impairment of whole person. If it’s decided that you are not eligible, you are able to request a review. Otherwise, if you are assessed as having at least 11% impairment and your injuries are stable, you may need to attend further medical exams.
Following this, you’ll be given an impairment % rating, which will then determine the lump sum amount you’ll receive.
u-Law is experienced in handling road traffic accident claims, so when you need a professional on your side to help you get the best outcome, call us on 1300 166 022.