Mandurah quadraplegic man shares his story in lead up to changes in catastrophic injury insurance


Shane Agnew and his wife Mel.
Mandurah quadraplegic man shares his story in lead up to changes in catastrophic injury insurance
Shane Agnew and his wife Mel.

MANDURAH 31-year-old Shane Agnew broke his neck in a motorcycle accident seven days after he turned 20.

Life as a quadriplegic might seem horrifying to some, but Shane said he had a great life. He is married, loves concerts, going out to dinner and plans on having children some day.

The one thing that could have helped after his accident though was access to money. Shane’s main income is a pension and his family had to hold a fundraiser to buy him a car.

To people who might be complaining about paying an extra $99 a year to support catastrophic injury insurance, Shane has this to say: “Never think it couldn’t happen to you”.

THE ACCIDENT….

Shane was five minutes from home at a friend’s house when he decided to drive home. After he got home, he decided to “be a hero” and go back there on his trail bike, which he now considers to be the biggest mistake of his life.

“As I geared up, my friend ran outside and took the spark plug cap off the spark plug so I couldn’t start my bike because he didn’t want me riding alone,” Shane wrote.

“He didn’t take it off enough, the bike started and I took off down the road towards my mate’s workshop. I decided to ride past it first and show off, as I rode past at around 80-90km/h.”

Shane ran into a bush.

A branch hit his helmet and pulled it off his head, which separated his skull from the top of his spine.

Luckily for Shane, a man who witnessed the accident started CPR and saved his life.

AFTER THE ACCIDENT….

Shane had no identification when he was admitted to Fremantle Hospital’s intensive care unit.

His friend became worried and began calling police and hospitals, which led to Shane being identified.

“I was unconscious for close to four weeks while my family and friends waited on the outcome,” Shane wrote.

“It was obvious I was going to be paralysed and be permanently ventilated but my mental state was the worry.

“It was three weeks before I started responding at all, first with my eyebrows, then my eyelids and eventually being able to mouth words, which is how I communicate now.”

If the scheme was in place before Shane’s accident, the money would allow him “to live an easier life without having to rely on the government support”.

“It is great for people who may be injured and unable to work,” he wrote.

Shane added that he never thought this would happen to him.

“I thought I was invincible,” he wrote.

You can read more about Shane at higherthansuperman.com or by searching Higher than Superman on Facebook.

Legislation a life-changer for injured

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 effective 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 laws apply 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 fire-fighting vehicles.

The gGovernment 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.”