Overseas tourists injured in NSW car accidents lose out under new laws
Every year, overseas tourists are injured in car accidents on NSW roads and return to their home countries, many in a serious condition. Before 1 December 2017, they were entitled to the same compensation as Australians. For accidents occurring on or after 1 December 2017, benefits paid to overseas tourists have reduced dramatically as Tom Goudkamp explains.
Many of you will have read of the family of four run down by an allegedly drunk, texting driver in Kellyville. One of the victims of this tragic accident is apparently fighting for her life in hospital, three other members of the family have been hospitalised.
All four people injured in this awful accident are from Hong Kong and were here in Sydney on holiday. For more information about this accident click here.
On 1 December 2017, the NSW government’s Motor Accident Injuries Act came into force. That Act provides a regime of statutory no-fault benefits for most people injured in a car accident as well as common law damages for only some people.
Statutory benefits include wage loss as well as treatment and care expenses.
If you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia and you are injured in a car accident in NSW after 1 December 2017, your reasonable and necessary treatment and care needs will be paid for by the insurer of the vehicle that caused your accident and you will be entitled to claim for lost wages or income as a result of your injuries. If you sustained a catastrophic injury (such as a head injury leading to permanent brain damage or a spinal cord injury leading to paraplegia or quadriplegia) the Lifetime Care and Support Scheme will pay for your treatment and care needs.
If you are not a citizen or permanent resident of Australia and you sustain a catastrophic injury in a motor car accident then, like your Australian counterparts, your treatment and care needs will be looked after by the Lifetime Care and Support scheme in Australia and back in your home country when you return.
However, if you are an overseas visitor and you have a major or minor injury (but something less than a catastrophic injury) you are entitled to statutory benefits while you are in Australia but the moment you leave the country, your statutory benefits stop. This means you are not entitled to wage of income loss benefits or payment for treatment you incur in your home country while you are recovering from the injuries you sustained in NSW. This is the same position whether you caused your own injuries by your own negligent driving or, like the family from Hong Kong you are totally innocent.
If you are able to maintain a common law action for damages, you can sue the third-party insurer for your loss of earnings and loss of earning capacity but the legislation prevents you from suing to recover payments you have made for medical or allied health treatment, medication, rehabilitation or care and assistance you need in your home country. You are also not able to sue the insurance company for the cost of future medical, allied health or care and assistance you may need into the future.
If you or anyone you know is injured has been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. For more information, and to arrange a free, no-obligation assessment of your claim, please call Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800, or alternatively make an online enquiry.
Written by Tom Goudkamp.