An accident resulting in the loss of earnings or support for an individual may entitle that person or group of people to claim for compensation against the responsible party.
Accidents can happen at any time or place, causing injuries and even death. The painful result left behind by these incidents is spouses and dependents suddenly being left without away to afford their standard of living. Each state and territory in Australia has different laws on compensation of claims, with each state having its own third party compensation policies. The most common claims for loss of support and earnings are from accidents on the road. There is a time limit of approximately 12 months for claiming compensation, after which you will no longer be eligible.
If you have suffered the loss of the principal earner in your family, or have been severely injured in accident such that you cannot perform your job (temporarily or permanently), then it is recommended that you consult a solicitor to assist you in claiming for compensation. Tragic accidents can disrupt your life, turning everything upside down. You don’t need the extra stress of trying to navigate the legal channels of claiming alone. The majority of law firms in Australia offer a free first consultation on claims and if successful, you lawyer will facilitate the rest of the claim administration on your behalf, leaving you the time and space you need to focus on recovering and getting your life back on track.
An example of loss of earnings is:
If you are injured in a car accidents and have to take leave off work for 6 months and you lose clients or perhaps your job.
An example of loss of support:
The father and sole breadwinner of a family is killed in a car accident. His dependents, two daughters and a wife are left without a source of income.
Who can claim?
- People who have lost their jobs or income due to an accident resulting from the negligence of another.
This will require proof of your previous income.
- People who have lost their principal breadwinner.
This will require proof of relation by birth or marriage. In relation to transport accidents, for example, the Statute Law Amendment (Relationships) Act 2001 recognises that all couples, (irrespective of gender) who have committed themselves to a genuine domestic relationship can be considered when assessing compensation entitlements under the TAA 1986.
How is Loss of Earnings Benefits Determined?
If you are entitled to loss of earnings benefits, you will receive them as bi-weekly payments. The value of earnings lost is covers 18 months after the accident or manifestation of the injuries resulting from the accident. The amount of the LOE benefit is based on a calculation of a client's 'pre-accident weekly earnings' (PAWE).
What can you claim for?
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses of the deceased or injured
- Loss of income/financial support
- Psychological distress
- Material damages. E.g. if your husband died in a car accident and his car, which was also your only source of transport, had to be written off.
What information you will need to claim:
- Details of the accident, photos of the damages, injuries, license plates etc.
- Details of the circumstances of the accident; date, time of day, weather, was the deceased/injured drinking etc.
- Details of other parties involved in the accident
- Details of the police who attended the scene, if any did
- Evidence of employment and income of the injured or deceased party.
- A medical report from a doctor detailing that the injuries and/or death resulted directly from the accident.
- Evidence of the injured/deceased party’s banking history
Most states and territories have third party insurance that operates on a ‘no fault’ scheme, which means that regardless of whether the accident was your fault or not, you will still be eligible for compensation.
What to expect?
- The claims process is complicated and lengthy with each claim being processed based on its individual merits; it can take 6 to 18 months to receive compensation for you claim.
- You can expect to receive at least some coverage for medical and funeral expenses from the local government’s third party compensation scheme.
- Some ‘loss of earning/support benefit’ schemes allow you take out a loan to help cover the financial burden until your claim has been processed successfully.
Will re-marrying reduce my claim?
If you have lost your partner, and sole breadwinner in an accident, and have subsequently begun a relationship with a new partner, do not worry. Due to the high likelihood of re-marriage after being widowed, the High Court of Australia holds that the reduction in compensation due to re-marriage be no more than 5 %.
What else could reduce my claim’s merit?
- If you were inebriated at the time of the accident
- If you were behaving inappropriately or irresponsibly, neglecting your duty of care to others (such as other drivers or passengers)
- If you were using or applying a product in a way that was contrary to its purpose and the instructions (if present)
- If you were distracted at the time of the accident, e.g. talking on your phone, texting while driving.
Below is a list of the relevant authorities regarding road accidents in Australia:
- New South Wales - Motor Accidents Authority
- Northern Territory - Territory Insurance Office
- Queensland - Motor Accident Insurance Commission
- South Australia - Motor Accident Commission (Allianz)
- Tasmania - Motor Accidents Insurance Board
- Western Australia - Insurance Commission of Western Australia