Catastrophic injury insurance: new policy a game-changer for those injured on the road

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PEOPLE who suffer catastrophic injuries in a car accident will be entitled to care and support for the rest of their lives, thanks to new legislation in effect from July 1.

The funds to cover the program will come from increased vehicle registration costs.

WA’s Motor Vehicle (Catastrophic Injuries) Act means people who suffer spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries, multiple amputations, severe burns or permanent blindness will be looked after.

The Act represents a broadening of existing Third Party Insurance legislation, and means people who are hurt in an accident that is their fault, or where no fault can be determined, will receive compensation.

The law applies to about 1.8 million WA motorists, but compensation can be claimed by drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, pillion passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.

The maximum cost of the increase in registration will be $99 in the first year for each vehicle and motorcycle, with smaller increases for tractors, mopeds, vintage cars and farm firefighting vehicles.

The Government also made changes to the the Insurance Commission of Western Australia Act 1986 and the Motor Vehicle (Third Party Insurance) Act 1943 in order to enable the scheme.

The Insurance Commission will handle the claims and manage the Motor Vehicle (Catastrophic Injuries) Fund to make sure funds are paid out to those in need.

The scheme is not retrospective, meaning people injured prior to July 1, 2016 cannot claim.

Treasurer Mike Nahan said the plan was a game-changer.

“I am pleased this legislation has been passed with bipartisan support,” Dr Nahan said.

“This initiative will change the lives of everyone who is catastrophically injured in motor vehicle crashes who are unable to successfully claim under the existing Compulsory Third Party insurance scheme.”

Disability Services Minister Donna Faragher said the legislation would provide security not only for the injured parties, but their families as well.

“I commend the efforts of the Insurance Commission of Western Australia for the extensive consultation they have undertaken with the health and disability sector, motorists and the community in general,” Mrs Faragher said.

“I also commend their commitment to partnering with community organisations in the delivery of care and support services.”