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Legal matters with Turner Freeman Personal Injury Claims with Gaius Whiffin –24 April 2017

 

Monday, April 24th 2017 

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CS – Chris Smith/GW – Gaius Whiffin /C1,2,3, etc – Callers 

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Announcer     And now, Legal Matters with Turner Freeman Lawyers: great people; great results; great value.

CS       Yes, we usually do this on a Tuesday but with Anzac Day falling tomorrow, and with special edition for Anzac Day on the afternoon program, we thought we would bring our Turner Freeman Legal Matters segment forward today. Now the New South Wales government recently introduced changes to compulsory third party insurance. Now at the moment Sydney motorists pay the highest premiums in the entire nation and the overhaul of the system is expected to save drivers, so the government says about $120 a year. I think governments tend to exaggerate a tad to exhibit their intervention, I would have thought it’s a little less than $100 a year but we’ll see. The reform limits compensation awarded to injured drivers and many lawyers say the changes will only cause more damage. So how will this impact divers involved in accidents. If you’ve got a question on this area of the law, give us a call on the open line right now 131 873 because I’ve got an expert from Turner Freeman Lawyers in the studio ready to take your calls and answer your questions. Now I’ve also got a $100 Westfield voucher to give away which is what we do whenever we have the Legal Matters segment on air and the most relevant question of the day will earn for themselves a $100 Westfield voucher. Don’t forget Turner Freeman Lawyers provide a range of specialised legal services including compensation and negligence law, asbestos litigation, superannuation and disability claims, family and employment laws, will and estate and also property law. Their New South Wales offices are in the CBD, also Parramatta, Campbelltown, Newcastle, Penrith, Wollongong and Gloucester. If you’ve got a question on these changes, to CTP laws in New South Wales and how they affect you from here on in, give us a call on 131 873. Gaius Whiffin is an accredited specialist in personal injury law and is a partner at Turner Freeman’s Sydney office and he joins me in the studio right now. Gaius thank you very much for coming in

GW     Thanks Chris

CS       So we know that the government in New South Wales has been trying to move heaven and earth to try and get some reasonable cost and probably effectiveness in this system because we’ve got a system that’s been run completely out of control and we can’t afford to pay the payouts can we?

GW     Yeah that’s right Chris, I mean the government has been trying for a number of years to get a balance between the green slip prices going down, the premium prices going down, keeping some benefits, keeping as much benefits as they can for people that are injured in motor vehicle accidents and introduced into these more recent changes is an attempt to keep the insurance companies profits also down. So the government in these recent changes have probably put together the best possible solution at the moment that still saves a lot of injured persons, injured motorists compensation entitlements, certainly a lot more than previous attempts of the government had done in that regard.

CS       So how do you do that though? How do you push down the prices that we pay for a service or a facility? And at the same time allow people to claim compensation as much as they did before

GW     Well no they don’t, their compensation is different to what it is currently, I should just go back a second, these changes are quite significant changes, there’s a lot of regulations and so forth still to be proclaimed and they’re not likely to actually occur and be proclaimed probably until December at the earliest.

CS       December later this year?

GW     There’s so much to do but the bill has actually been passed so things are happening at the moment. But yes look, the rights, if you’re injured in a motor vehicle accident you will be worse off under these changes in a large number of cases-

CS       But you can’t have both?

GW     Exactly

CS       You can’t have cheaper prices for the service and a greater accessibility for compensation

GW     What these changes have done is if you only have a minor injury, probably a whiplash type injury, you’re not going to be entitled to access any more than a snatch tree anymore like a worker’s compensation benefit and you’re only going to entitle to access that for about two years. That’s really what it comes down to; you won’t be able to sue for negligence. Another change they’ve taken out the ability to claim for what they call fortuitous care, so if you’re looked after by your wife or your daughter or something while you’re injured, you can’t claim for the value of that person’s assistance

CS       Where as you can today?

GW     You can today. You can still claim for paid care. If you actually get someone in, you get a nurse in to assist you, you can claim for that and you’re entitled to ongoing medical costs and care and assistance cost on an ongoing basis, that doesn’t form part of your lump sum. It’s clear that if you do get over the minor injury threshold, you can still claim compensation damages then those payments are going to be reduced and you can’t claim as much

CS       Because the balancing act has got to be that those who have quite adversely been affected in terms of injury through accidents are properly looked after

GW     That’s right and while those people won’t get as much of a lump sum, they will have the right to claim ongoing care and treatment expenses basically for the rest of their lives

CS       Okay Brian, you’ve got a question, go right ahead, Gaius is listening

C1       Good afternoon, how are you?

GW     G’day

C1       I have a query about what is being done about these rorters that have been using these CTP green slips illegally. Is the insurance companies doing anything about that?

GW     I don’t think the insurers are themselves, certainly SIRA which is the state insurance regulatory authorities have been investigating that, there was someone I think charged the other day for running a rorting scheme-

C1       That’s correct yeah

GW     I think you’ll find there will be a lot more of that occurring in the near future. Look, it’s always happened and it’s always very difficult to police and there’s always rorting schemes that have occurred in the past. I still remember one that was twenty five years ago that was quite significant too. It does look like there’s certainly increased emphasis from the regulatory authority in terms of trying to catch these people now.

C1       May I ask a quick question? Are we going to look forward to our CTP green slips coming down?

GW     Well that is the aim and look, as I said it’s not just about reducing benefits and what the act refers to minor injuries. It’s also a matter of this act does attempt to deal with insurer profits and that’s a big part of the problem with the scheme in the past and certainly gives SIRA some authority over that and almost tries to claw back those profits.

C1       Do they have a no claim theory on these CTP green slips where you’ve never made a claim in your life in regards to CTP?

GW     No

C1        Is it proper to ask for a reduction in your-

GW     You mean a real effective system where the good people are rewarded and the carrot is dangled as it should be, Brian?

C1       Yeah

CS       No, the answer is no isn’t it Gaius?

GW     That’s right. The green slips are the same no matter whether you’ve had ten or one accident I guess

CS       And it doesn’t make sense. I know the point you’re trying to make Brian. Well said but unfortunately no one is there to gain out of this but just in terms of the $120 a year that drivers may save according to the government do you believe that is a fair estimate?

GW     Look, I haven’t seen those, the actual act where the calculations and so forth are. Look, if the premiums don’t go down significantly with this bill there is going to be lots more questions

CS       It will be deemed a failure won’t it?

GW     Certainly

CS       Brian, go right ahead Gaius is listening

C2       Chris thanks a lot, look just in regards to the whiplash industry and injuries, I was involved in a near fatal a month ago, three car collision with two were written off and I’m in the process of going through rehab now with physiotherapy and looking at claiming before it inhibits my, I’m an elderly person, before it inhibits my swimming and looking at some compensation for that but that was just a question that leads into the next one which was insurance. Now my vehicle went to the panel beaters, the assessor to whom I spoke was quite busk and I thought was quite rude and said ‘Oh yes your settlement is $6740 and we’ll be forwarding that out soon” I wasn’t satisfied with that because my vehicle was only eight years old, I had looked after it meticulously, I asked which was my write off I thought to send to another panel beater whom I dealt with over thirty years and he comes back to me and says to me “We can’t save the car we don’t think but it’s worth $8700 as a write off” now that was a variance between two accredited assessors from the insurance company of something like $2000. Doesn’t that go to the heart of corporate governance and compliance and some moral and legal responsibilities?

CS       Good question you get the $100 Brian, before Gaius even answers the question. Good question, the $100 Westfield voucher is yours. Gaius, go right ahead

C2       Oh thanks

GW     I mean you get that sort of problem all the time and the problem you have is that you may have a legal right to claim the higher amount but in most cases you’re going to have to take some legal proceedings for that to occur, the insurer says okay this is the value of your car, this is what we’re going to pay and you’re going to have to argue otherwise, bring evidence in what probably would be the small claims division to the local court

CS       You with us? No he’s gone, he’s gone, he needs to come back to us because he’s got the $100 Westfield voucher but anyway Josh very quickly, I’ve only got about forty five seconds, go ahead Josh

C3       How you going, mate?

GW     Good

C3       It’s just when I moved to Sydney five years ago, I was living in Queensland and I only had a little corolla about a $3000 car and it takes about $2000 for my car. I was just wondering why there is so much difference between Queensland and New South Wales for registration.

GW     Well, Queensland has a different scheme, totally different scheme to New South Wales, as do all the states in Australia indeed, even in the territories too and the premiums are different in each state and there are all sorts of reasons why that’s the case. These changes attempt to bring the New South Wales system back in line with some of the other states

CS       And it’s about time too, it’s about time, finally, we’ll see come December whether that works. Gaius Whiffin thank you very much  for your time

GW     Thank you Chris

 

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