INSURANCE REFORMS THREATEN THE SERIOUSLY INJURED

INSURANCE REFORMS THREATEN THE SERIOUSLY INJURED

VICTIMS of catastrophic injury due to negligence may have their claims cut short by the proposed National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIIS), argues the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

The ALA says the NIIS, which was initially proposed by the Commonwealth as a no-fault lifetime care scheme to assist those who have suffered brain, spinal-cord and severe burn injuries, threatens to increase the number of denied insurance claims for those suffering lesser, yet still significant, injuries.

According to the ALA, if the NIIS is to operate nationally the states must change their at-fault compensation laws to meet national benchmarks, which would allow damages sustained as a result of gross negligence to be treated as ‘no fault’.

ALA national president Andrew Stone says that where the government is able to fund expensive compensation for those who have aggrieved themselves, cuts are made from the claims of those suffering lesser injuries who are not at fault.

“When a no-fault catastrophic injury motor vehicle scheme was introduced in South Australia, benefits to most innocent accident victims had to be slashed to fund the claims of those who caused their own catastrophic injury,” says Stone.

“South Australia is the microcosm of what Australians can expect if the NIIS gets rolled out nationwide.

“This will include claims of lesser (but still significant) injury being denied, reduced access to income support and no justice for people who fall victim, through no fault of their own, to negligence that has caused catastrophic injury.”

Experts have determined that in South Australia more than 2000 claims have been denied compensation as a result of the NIIS-inspired third-party insurance scheme.

Another concern raised by the ALA is that the NIIS hasn’t been subject to the deserved level of public scrutiny.

“The NIIS has never received the level of public debate merited by such a wide-scale reform,” says Stone.

“It has simply slipped in alongside the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), without any discussion about what it will mean for injured people in Australia.”

Stone says the solution is to allow those at fault to continue receiving support from the NDIS, and let others retain the right to complete compensation as a result of sustaining no-fault catastrophic injury.

“For those at fault, it is reasonable that they be covered by the NDIS,” says Stone.

“This has been the case throughout the launch of the NDIS and ought to continue.

“Australians should not be paying premiums in order to receive sub-standard justice if they suffer injury.”

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