|Description of this FunctionDescription of this Function|
Since proclamation of the Motor Car (Third Party Insurance) Act 1939 on 22 January 1941 owners of motor vehicles have been obliged to obtain accident insurance policies indemnifying them against any liability which may be incurred in respect of the death or injury of any person caused by or arising out of the use of such motor vehicle. The operation and administration of transport accident legislation which has evolved over time has been undertaken by a number of public and bodies. Below is a summary of the evolution of the statutory transport accident compensation system.
A victim of a motor accident had the right to sue a negligent party at common law for damages.
The role of the Government was limited to the Courts which heard such cases.
1941 to 1973
The Motor Car (Third Party Insurance) Act 1939 made it compulsory for the owner of a motor vehicle to obtain third party insurance. The State Motor Car Insurance Office was established under the Act to provide policies of third party insurance to protect motor vehicle owners from exploitation against insurance companies. The Insurance Office was also able to provide general motor car insurance. The regulation of motor accident insurance business was also provided for under the 1939 Act.
1973 to 1986
The Motor Accidents Act 1973 introduced a 'no fault' motor accident compensation scheme. The 'no fault' scheme, the first of its type in Australia, was a fundamental departure from the law of tort (common law) and was based on the notion that such are the complexities and numbers of accidents in society, many of which are not related to negligence or fault, that payment of some compensation should be a social liability paid for by motor vehicle owners collectively. This 'no fault' strand of personal injury compensation complemented the common law component under which persons able to establish the negligence of a third party could sue for damages under the compulsory third party system which had prevailed since 22 January 1941.
The Victorian Government's move to a "no fault" system of motor accident compensation was based on the recommendation of two committees, the first appointed to report on methods of reducing the time involved and the high costs of litigation procedures, and the second to draw up in draft detailed provisions for "no fault" benefits and administration. The Motor Accidents Act 1973, which embraced most of the second committee's recommendations, received Royal Assent in April 1973. Its administrative provisions began to operate from 12 February 1974.
Administration of the 'no fault' scheme was vested in the Motor Accidents Board established in September 1973 under the 1973 Act. The Board's role involved the processing of compensation claims, including assessing the eligibility of injured persons for compensation under the Act and the provision of rehabilitation services.
The provision of third party insurance continued to be the responsibility of the State Motor Car Insurance Office which from 1975 was succeeded by the State Insurance Office. The State Insurance Office was from 1973 one of the two insurers remaining in the business. R.A.C.V. Insurance Pty. Ltd. was subsequently unable to continue and the State Insurance Office became the sole insurer from 1 January 1977. From this date the Office assumed responsibility for the administration of all common law claims which previously had been administered by the Insurance Office and authorised insurers. The State Insurance Office also became the Incorporated Nominal Defendant as the sole insurer. The liabilities of the Incorporated Nominal Defendant were previously met by authorised compulsory third party insurers in proportion to their share of the premium income.
1987 to ct
During 1985/86 the Department of Management and Budget conducted a review of third party motor accident injury compensation. The review culminated in the proclamation of the Transport Accident Act 1986 on 23 December 1986.
A new transport injury compensation scheme was established under the Transport Accidents Act 1986 commencing 1 January 1987. The scheme covers injuries or death as a result of a transport accident including motor vehicle accidents or public transport accidents.
The Transport Accidents Act 1986 introduced substantial limitations on the right to issue proceedings against a negligent party at common law for damages. Common law proceedings can only be brought in cases of death or serious injury.
The Transport Accident Commission was established on 23 December 1986 as successor to the Motor Accidents Board. As well as being vested with responsibility for administering the new scheme the Commission assumed responsibility on 1 January 1987 for administration of the former compulsory third party scheme administered by both the Motor Accidents Board (for 'no fault') and the State Insurance Office (for common law). The Commission also assumed responsibility for administering claims against the Incorporated Nominal Defendant from the State Insurance Office.
The Transport Accident Commission was established under the above Act to:
manage the transport injury compensation scheme, extended to include victims of accidents involving trams and trains (formerly administered by the Metropolitan Transit and State Transport Authorities)
ensure that appropriate compensation is delivered as quickly as possible
ensure that accident prevention is emphasised and effective rehabilitation is achieved.
Originally the Commission was responsible to the Treasurer (VRG 23) but under an Administrative Arrangements Order of December 1987 responsibility was transferred to the Minister of Transport (VRG 49) on 1 January 1988. And from 1999 to the Minister for Workcover (VRG 141).
Motor Accidents Board, Annual Reports, 1984, 1985
Transport Accident Commission, Annual Report, 1987