In Australia, we often take for granted the high quality of public transport available to us. Trams, buses, trains – and sometimes ferries – are all at our disposal for convenient, affordable travel across cities and even states.
Just like all forms of transport, there are risks involved and, as the Australian population grows, so does the amount of people choosing to get to work, school and anywhere else on public transport.
While you may understand your entitlements when you’re injured in a private vehicle, public transport accidents often receive much less coverage. You could claim a significant amount of compensation if you’ve been injured by a train, tram or bus, but it’s important you understand the processes and guidelines involved.
What is a public transport injury?
A public transport injury can be defined as an injury sustained by or on public transport. This includes trains, light rails, ferries, buses and trams – and may also incorporate an accident occurring at a train station.
Commonly, this type of accident is caused by the driver or operator of a vehicle. Sudden braking, closing the door on a passenger and collisions are all typical causes. Whether this is the fault of the operator, a different driver or external conditions (such as bad weather), the injured party may still be eligible for compensation.
Types of public transport claims
Compensation claims following accidents relating to public transport fall under two distinct categories:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Accidents covered by public liability
The Motor Accident Act 1999 was established to ensure those injured by public transport would be eligible to claim for injuries and damages, as a result of the negligence of a driver or another party. Due to the fact that the injured party is rarely at fault in this kind of traffic accident (they have no control over the vessel they travel in), a no-fault scheme was introduced.
Remember that, in order for the TAC to accept liability for your losses, the vehicle has to be in-transit at the time of the accident. However, if the injury is caused by the opening or closing of a door, the TAC scheme automatically covers this.
The public liability sub-category allows the injured party to lodge a claim under The Civil Liability Act 2002. This would be the selected route for injuries sustained from a spillage at a train station, or a broken seat on a tram, for example.
What can you claim?
To lodge a claim, you must be able to prove that another party is at fault for your sustained injuries. In this case, that could refer to the driver of the train, tram, bus, etc. or another party out on the road.
Any form of traffic accident can negatively impact your health, lifestyle and ability to work. For that reason, you could be entitled to a lump sum covering any pain and suffering that occurred due to a result of a public transport accident.
On top of that, you can be compensated for all travel and medical expenses associated with the accident, as well as:
- The loss of income and expected future loss of income, if you are unable to work for a period lasting longer than five days
- The loss of entitlements to superannuation
- Expenses for care and assistance
When should you claim?
Don’t wait too long to lodge a claim, as this may work against you and result in you getting back less than you deserve. You must complete and lodge a Personal Injury Claim form within one year of the traffic accident, or of the date the injury first manifests itself. However, if you miss the lodgement deadline and you have a satisfactory reason for the delay, or your claim is lodged within 3 years of the accident, your claim may still be processed.
Record and keep hold of any details relating to the accident. You’ll also need to report the accident to the transport operator involved, whether this was Yarra Trams, Metro Trains or someone else.
Engage the services of a professional TAC lawyer for assistance with the form, as the questions are not always straightforward.
Seek legal advice as soon as possible
Don’t waste any time when it comes to finding out about your eligibility for compensation. Engaging a specialist TAC lawyer such as u-Law will help you throughout the claims process, to ensure you receive the maximum payment for injuries and financial losses you have undergone.