Queensland’s strict motor vehicle accident compensation scheme means that the family members are shouldering a high level of care and responsibility when someone is injured in an accident, according to national law firm Slater and Gordon.
Slater and Gordon lawyer Ian Brown said Queensland’s poor compensation scheme meant that the responsibility for caring for the injured often fell onto family members, either the husband or wife, or children of the person who was injured.
“Many are left to juggle full time jobs and their carer responsibilities,” Mr Brown said.
“These family members and relatives are truly the unsung heroes in the community. The person who has been injured in the accident is not the only one forced to adapt to a new life; their partner and other family members are also forced to adjust.”
“The current system means that there’s a lot of ongoing hardship and family struggles because the level of compensation that people receive through the system in Queensland is rarely enough to provide for the level of assistance that is required.”
Mr Brown said changes needed to be made to the law so that there was a greater level of flexibility around the level of care available to injured Queenslanders.
“To be entitled to compensation for home help provided by family members and friends you must require care for at least six hours per week and for at least six months after the accident.
“The entitlement does not allow for any flexibility and it’s extremely limiting.
“It is unfair because it is does not allow for a claim to be based on an individual victim’s needs.
“Some people require a high level of assistance after an accident - but not for a full six months – and are therefore denied financial assistance because they don’t meet the strict criteria.
“Similarly, the current system does not help people who need care for more than six hours a week for six months after their accident.”
“The gap created by the system in Queensland means that families either have to struggle to meet the costs of paying for professional care or they have to take on those responsibilities themselves which may mean reducing work hours or leaving paid employment completely.”
“People pay their compulsory third party insurance so it’s only right that when they are in an accident that insurance companies pay up and people are duly compensated. The Queensland Government must increase its support to Queenslanders over insurance companies.”
In April this year, Slater and Gordon launched a campaign to increase funding after revealing that severely injured motor vehicle accident victims in Queensland were receiving substantially less than those injured interstate.
In Queensland the maximum level of compensation for pain and suffering is capped at $250,000, while it is $408,000 in New South Wales and $450,000 in Victoria. Slater and Gordon lawyers have since lobbied the Attorney General, Cameron Dick, for changes to the current system.
As part of the campaign Slater and Gordon launched a facebook group to support severely injured Queenslanders, allowing members of the public to show their support.