Thursday, 20 September 2018
Law Society urges Canberrans to speak out against reduction in CTP benefits
The President of the ACT Law Society, Sarah Avery, today urged all Canberrans to raise their voices against the unfair changes to the ACT’s compulsory third party (CTP) insurance scheme proposed by the Barr Government.
The Legislative Assembly today voted to refer the Government’s proposed scheme, the Motor Accident Injuries Bill 2018, to the Justice and Community Safety Committee for review.
The Society rejects many aspects of the Government’s proposal. If implemented, the new scheme will degrade the ACT’s CTP insurance scheme, leaving innocently injured road accident victims and their families in financial hardship and emotional distress.
Road users, including not only motor vehicle drivers and passengers, but also bicycle riders, motor cycle riders and pedestrians, should be deeply concerned about the changes being proposed.
The impacts include:
- about 90% of Canberra road users injured through no fault of their own will lose their right to fair compensation;
- the current fair level of compensation provided to innocent road accident victims will be traded away to pay benefits to the driver who caused the accident;
- injured people without the assistance of specialist advice will be expected to settle disputes about their medical treatment and their capacity to work directly with well-resourced insurers;
- insurance companies will have an expanded role in determining when and if compensation to injured people is paid;
- the scheme does not compel insurers to guarantee early treatment and care for injured people; and
- insurance companies will have far greater control over when and how much they pay out to accident victims, and they will be able to make even larger profits.
The changes mean that several long-standing principles of natural justice and procedural fairness will no longer apply to innocent road accident victims.
The changes will see many injured people and their families suffer ongoing financial hardship as they are pushed into the social welfare system.
The Society strongly opposes the arbitrary reduction of compensation payable to innocent road accident victims in order to pay for benefits to at-fault drivers. The imposition of a 10% Whole Person Impairment (WPI) threshold will ensure that the vast majority of victims will no longer be able to access adequate compensation.
The new scheme will rely on insurers to provide a range of information and advice to injured people. As recent experience in NSW and the current Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has shown, information distributed by insurers is often inaccurate and legally incorrect.
The Society fully supports measures to ensure injured people receive early treatment and care. Currently, access to early medical treatment is often delayed by overly-bureaucratic administrative requirements. Insurers will decide what treatment an injured person receives, when they receive treatment, and when wages will be cut. Nothing in the proposed scheme will compel the cooperation of insurers in facilitating access to treatment.
It is astounding that in this climate the Barr Government is willing to place so much trust in corporate responsibility on behalf of injured people.
The ACT scheme is one of the fairest and most stable CTP schemes in the country. It is vital that the community send a strong message to the Barr Government that they do not want their rights to be eroded so shamefully.
For further information contact:
Ms Sarah Avery, President, ACT Law Society, T 02 6274 0300