Category: News

Having read a recent article “Vicious Cycle” in the Geelong Advertiser on 29 November 2018, Tom Burgoyne of our Geelong office had cause to reflect on an article that appeared on 26 June 2013, “Motorbike Crash Crisis”.  These are Tom’s thoughts:

As noted in the “Vicious Cycle” article there were said to have been 84 motorcyclists hospitalised in the last year as a result of transport accidents on roads in our region.  There were said to be 4 fatal transport accidents which took the lives of motorcyclists.  Looking back at the article from 2013 it was noted by the CEO of the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) at that time that “The statistics show the number of people needing more than 14 days hospitalisation after a crash is down by 45 per cent…so we know some improvements are being made”.  So, what has happened?

In my experience these accidents arise from a myriad of causes.  Victoria Police have noted speed, most particularly along our coastal roads as a factor for motorcyclists.  However, there are many safety-conscious motorcyclists who have sustained injury due to the inattention of drivers of 4-wheeled vehicles.

Safety and not blame is at the core of the TAC’s latest campaign “Driver Think Rider/Rider Think Driver” and I applaud this.  It strikes at the heart of the issue:  reciprocity of respect among road users is key.

Research from the Monash University Accident Research Centre is cited as revealing “a third of all motorcycle injury crashes occur on regional roads” .  With the inevitable rush of the festive season upon us, it is indeed time for patience and respect for all road users.  No family should suffer empty seats at their table.

The Treasury and Finance Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 passed the upper house of Victorian Parliament on 20 September 2018. Yesterday this Bill received Royal Assent becoming law today.

Although the Act has been dubbed Rory’s Law as our client, Rory Wilson, is the centerpiece of it, there are also further beneficial amendments for those who suffer injury in transport accidents as well as for their family members. The full title of the Act really does not do justice to the significance of it!  Here is a summary:

Cyclists:

The anomaly in the legislation has been rectified to ensure that cyclists will now be covered where they strike a stationary vehicle, improved from the previous position where they were only covered where they struck the door of a stationary vehicle, or if they were riding to or from work.

Immediate Family Members:

The definition of “member of the immediate family” will be extended to include Grandparents, allowing them to access financial assistance for family counselling, travel and accommodation expenses to be used where family members are severely or fatally injured in a transport accident. The monetary cap for immediate family members’ travel and accommodation expenses to visit a family member in hospital is set to be increased from $10,780 to $20,000. This extension and monetary increase will be mirrored in WorkCover law.

A further benefit of income assistance will be available to parents who need to take time away from work to visit an injured dependent child who is hospitalised after a transport accident (up to $10,000).

Dependency Benefits to Include Apprentices:

Previously a “dependent child” of a surviving partner of someone who was fatally injured was defined as one who is aged up to 16 or up to age 25 if they are a full-time student. This will now be extended to include full-time apprentices.

Removal of Mandatory 5-year Reviews of Loss of Earning Capacity Payments:

Where an injured person’s level of whole person impairment has been determined at 50% or more, they are entitled to receive ongoing Loss of Earning Capacity payments beyond the usual 3-year mark after an accident. The TAC would however mandatorily review this ongoing entitlement in 5 yearly cycles, putting the person’s entitlement at risk. This has been removed.

Administrator Fees:

Where a person lacks capacity to manage their own financial and legal affairs (a person “under a disability”), it is usual for a VCAT or Court-appointed professional Administrator to be involved. That Administrator is entitled to charge fees for administering the person’s estate. The TAC will now be required to fund these costs.

 

Tom Burgoyne of our Geelong office said “Rory has been a brave and determined client and it has been a privilege to act for him.  His courage in pursuing his rights has triggered great change and it has been most satisfying for me to have played a small role in a collaborative effort by the TAC, the Government and various stakeholders to see the rights of injured Victorians improved.”

We urge anyone who may be impacted by these amendments to seek legal advice without delay.

 

With an inspiring collaborative effort between the Victorian Government, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and various stakeholder groups, legislation was last night passed, introducing improved rights for cyclists in Victoria.

Our deserving client, local Drysdale resident Rory Wilson, has made legal history with his case the catalyst for various changes to the Transport Accident Act 1986.

Suffering severe injuries including paraplegia in a cycling accident on 9 July 2014 after colliding with a parked truck in Portarlington, the TAC denied Rory’s claim for compensation due to the then wording of the legislation in relation to cyclists. Rory and his legal team, headed by our very own Tom Burgoyne (pictured here with Rory yesterday), ran test case litigation in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal and the Supreme Court of Victoria.  The case served to highlight an anomaly in the law outlined in Tom’s article in the Law Institute Journal “Cyclists Beware” https://www.liv.asn.au/Staying-Informed/LIJ/LIJ/Jan-Feb-2018/Cyclists-beware and prompted inspiring lobbying efforts on behalf of Rory and cyclists in general.

The Treasury and Finance Legislation Amendment Act 2018 has as its centrepiece, amendments which ensure that a collision between a cyclist and a stationary vehicle will be covered by the TAC and not just in situations where a cyclist was riding to or from their place of employment.  This has been dubbed “Rory’s Law”.  Importantly, the change is retrospective to Rory’s date of accident on 9 July 2014 so he will now be covered for TAC compensation benefits including medical care. Other cyclists injured in similar situations on and from that date will also be covered.

Rory says: “I am extremely grateful and humbled with the change in the TAC legislation. I have been fortunate enough to have had a lot of local people in my corner supporting me all along. Amazingly, after fighting for 4 years this has happened in a way I never imagined possible”.

Tom Burgoyne states that “Rory and his wife Pauline have shown great resilience over the last 4 years. Rory’s law will now mean Rory, and other cyclists similarly injured, will get compensation relief to ease their burden.   Credit must be paid to the TAC for its handling of Rory’s litigation in a respectful manner as well as then not turning a blind eye to the anomaly it revealed, as well as to the Andrews Labor Government. There has been a real appetite shown to make change for the better. We are very proud this impetus has come from Geelong and the local community has really outdone itself with the support shown for Rory”. 

The team at Fortitude Legal congratulate you Rory for your bravery and determination in this fight.  It has been an honour to be a part of your journey.