On 16 February 2018 two senior constables based at the Campbelltown LAC were seriously injured in a car accident on Campbelltown Road near the suburb of Woodbine.
According to news coverage of the accident, a young driver was allegedly distracted by his mobile telephone when he crashed into a parked police vehicle at the site of a random breath test operation.
We understand that the driver of the vehicle is facing court in relation to the incident.
The police officers who were the innocent victims of this horrible accident will be entitled to compensation for their injuries.
However, due to recent changes to the law which came into effect on 1 December 2017, the police officer’s entitlements are very different to what they would have been previously.
The police officers are in the very common category of accident which occurs both in the course of the injured person’s employment, as well as a consequence of a motor vehicle accident.
Accordingly, the police officers are likely to have rights under both the workers compensation scheme and the new NSW CTP scheme.
In the past, this scenario would mean that the primary claim would be made against the CTP insurer of the vehicle, as any workers compensation payments received whilst the CTP claim is ongoing would need to be refunded to the workers compensation insurer once the claim settles (usually this is done by agreement between the two insurers so that the injured person is not affected). Having said this, it was often preferable under the old scheme for the person to make both claims, as the workers compensation insurer would generally make payments for lost income on an ongoing basis, whereas the CTP insurer would make payments for medical expenses but generally would not also make ongoing lost income payments.
However, under the new CTP scheme, if the police officers have concurrent workers compensation rights, they are now actually precluded from making a CTP claim. What this will ultimately mean for the rights of the two police officers (for example, if their workers compensation entitlements come to an end) is difficult to predict and may represent a challenging problem for side-by-side operation of the NSW CTP and workers compensation schemes going forward.
The police officers may also fall victim to the much less generous CTP and workers compensation schemes which have both been completely revamped in the past 5 or so years.
The most bizarre and perhaps unfair aspect of this accident concerns the at-fault driver himself.
Community standards and expectations are dismayed at the increasing prevalence of mobile phone use of people whilst driving vehicles, and it is an issue which the police force and the NSW Government are, understandably, cracking down on.
However, one of the most controversial changes introduced in the December 2017 law changes, is that now, the driver of the vehicle responsible for an accident is also entitled to compensation even if they are entirely to blame for the accident.
As with anything, there are exceptions, such as when the at fault driver is found to have committed a serious offence potentially punishable by greater than six months imprisonment. Also, an at fault driver (or indeed, anyone deemed mostly at fault) is only entitled to payment of medical expenses and lost income for a period of six months after the accident. after which entitlements cease.
This means that unless the driver of the vehicle who caused this horrific incident is found to have committed an offence punishable by greater than six months imprisonment, if he was injured in the accident he will also be entitled to compensation.
The new laws applying to motor accidents and workers compensation matters are complex, and you should speak to a solicitor if you have been involved in an accident. To arrange a free, no-obligation assessment of your claim, please contact Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 251 800, or alternatively make an online enquiry.