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Melbourne woman wins legal fight to home help

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Media Release

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A Melbourne woman who suffered severe injuries after a car accident has won the first stage of a battle to have her home help services continually paid by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), in a clear instance of common sense prevailing, according to Slater and Gordon lawyers.

The TAC had been paying for Ms Kutz to receive home services assistance in the form of two hours of cleaning services per fortnight and two hours of gardening every three weeks. It stopped paying in March this year, claiming the Transport Accident Act allowed it to cut off support five years after an accident.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Janine Gregory was able to successfully argue in the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal that Ms Kutz should have her assistance continued after the five-year anniversary of her accident.

Sandra Kutz, now 53, had gone to hospital with a severe migraine back in 2005. Doctors assessed her, and she was given an intravenous drug she had never taken before. Ms Kutz was then discharged to go home.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Janine Gregory said that on the way home, Ms Kutz was involved in a single-vehicle traffic accident. Her car hit a tree, and she suffered serious injuries. Witnesses noted that prior to the accident, Ms Kutz seemed to be slumped over the steering wheel. Ms Kutz brought legal action against the hospital, alleging that it was negligent to administer her the medication, then send her home in her car.

Ms Gregory said Ms Kutz suffered serious injuries in this accident, including a fractured vertebra and an injury to her back.

“She still suffers persistent severe pain, stiffness and limitation of movement of the back, constant pain and limited movement of her left leg, disturbed sleep, headaches and impaired memory,” she said.

Ms Kutz lives alone and has great difficulty undertaking household tasks and gardening. Her elderly mother, aged 77, has had to step in to assist her with such tasks as vacuuming, changing the beds, putting the washing out and mowing the lawns.

“She’s a person who lives alone and has few options in terms of assistance. It’s an artificial distinction to cut off assistance after five years when Sandra’s injuries will last a lifetime,” Ms Gregory said.

“Applying the law as a strict five-year cut-off could negatively affect of a number of Victorians injured in motor vehicle accidents. Common sense should prevail when accident victims need support in their daily lives.”

Ms Kutz said the decision meant she would have a better quality of life at home.

“I couldn’t understand why the TAC cut off the help, as my condition hasn’t improved since the accident,” she said.

“I need help to do all the work around the house that other people take for granted, so this is a huge win for me.”

The TAC has appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Victoria