National Injury Insurance Scheme to Reform Personal Injury Cover

Whether you’ve heard about it or not, the coming National Injury Insurance Scheme could be just what what the insurance and compensation industry needs to change how personal injury cover works in Australia. In Sydney’s CBD alone there are nearly100,000 people working each day, so important and beneficial changes to personal injury cover laws have never been more crucial than before.

Personal Injury

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Suncorp has been quick to jump onto the bandwagon when it comes to declaring the importance that these reforms could offer everyday Australians. They suggest that by offering no-fault structures with defined benefits and an emphasis on rehabilitation, there’ll be an increased benefit to injured people, as well as reducing the cost volatility often associated with personal injury cover.

In the current scheme of personal injury cover, much of it is defined by at-fault systems that mean many injured people go uncompensated if there’s no one else involved. For instance, if a person were to have a car crash under the current system, if no other driver is involved or found at fault, then the injured person is deemed to be at-fault. Because the injured person is at-fault they won’t have any cover to help with the cost of treating injuries, which can be quite high when it comes to particularly violent car crashes.

It’s not only this idea of benefiting everyone that has Suncorp singing their praises for no-fault schemes. Some of the other big selling-points for no-fault systems including reducing delays that hamper rehabilitation processes as the person at-fault is determined, while also promoting choice when the responsible person’s insurer comes to deciding how to handle the claims of any and all the injured people involved. This last point is particularly relevant when it comes to encouraging Australia’s insurance industry to grow. In the example of the car crash, under a no-fault scheme each driver would be covered under their own insurer rather than relying on determining who was at fault and then the victim needing to go into discourse with an insurer that they’re unfamiliar with.

This opportunity of reform in the area of personal injury cover can also provide an excellent time to prevent schemes becoming financially unstable very quickly. The reform would see insurance schemes needing to find a balance of risk and community rating so that any cover is fair yet affordable and any uncertainty in regards to benefits and how they’ll be implemented will be reduced allowing people to recover more quickly and thoroughly. However,if insurers choose not to reform their policies in this sector it could lead to negative consequences like greatly increasing insurance premiums, less money going to injured people covered by such schemes and huge losses for insurance underwriters.

Of course there’s some hesitancy from insurance companies to reform their personal injury cover, particularly as a no-fault system would cost more than an at-fault system, but the reward of covering more people would actually result in long-term savings by reducing the amount of delays associated with claims, as well as cutting the amount of money spent when it comes to disputes as well-defined parameters are part and parcel of a no-fault system.

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Insurance Law News: Australia’s Insurance Sector “Low Risk” | BPC Law Blog

With summer still ahead of us and Sydney and NSW already having begun to feel the full brunt of nature’s vengeful side, it’s nice to know that Australia’s general insurance industry is deemed as low risk. But why in a country that has been ravaged by floods, fires, earthquakes and cyclones all in the last decade is the insurance industry so optimistic? Let an insurance lawyer explain:

Insurance Lawyer

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The news of Australia’s insurance sector being deemed low risk comes from Standard and Poor’s (better known as S&P) research and investigation. The big reason behind this classification is that insurers have, in recent years, begun to effectively manage exposure to risks like floods and earthquakes in their available insurance policies. After the 2011 Brisbane floods, many residents were shocked to find their insurance didn’t cover that level of flooding, or any at all, and demand from these customers has had a nation-wide impact on how insurers and the general public approach natural disasters and the like in insurance policies.

Insurance companies are in the business of making money, so when natural disasters cause billions of dollars worth of damage it can be hard to understand how insurers still manage to make a profit and keep their insurance policies worthwhile and effective. What it all boils down to is rate increases which have been able to cover these higher claims and insurance costs, as well as things like product deductibles and cover being revised to still be appropriate for what the customer needs, without negatively affecting the insurance company.

At this point in time there is a positive view in regards to the Australian general insurance sector, thanks partly to the industry’s return on equity staying above 10% for the last five years, and financial and credit analysts predicting it to stay that way for some time. There’s also been nominal premium growth of four to seven per cent anticipated for the rest of this financial year, though the general insurance growth prospects have been rated neutral by S&P. This is because the insurance industry’s gross written premium as part of GDP (gross domestic product) has only been roughly two and a half per cent over the last five years. But why is the equity return so strong?

It’s all to do with a strong underwriting performance to provide enough support for equity returns to grow. S&P have predicted that for this financial year the net underwriting combined ratio for the entire Australian general insurance sector will be stable at 90 to 95%. Alongside this strong underwriting performance, return on equity is further supported by strong and stable investment returns, effective cost control of lifted profits, and cuts to insurer costs including consolidations, offshoring and IT improvements. So what does this all mean for you as a customer?

With a strong insurance sector, particularly one that has been rated as low risk by such a global insurance giant as S&P, it’s the best time for you to look into entering or updating your insurance, particularly in regards to natural disasters, as Australia’s catastrophe insurance programs are some of the largest worldwide. You really never know when you just might need it.

E Street Band Saxophonist’s Family Says Death was Due to Medical Negligence | BPC Law Blog

Clarence Clemons was the saxophonist for E Street Band for nearly 30 years. However, in 2011, he died of a stroke. Nearly two years on, his death became a medical negligence case that made worldwide headlines, unlike the many cases that are presented before Sydney courts each year. But why did the family think a medical negligence lawsuit was in order?

Medical Negligence

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Before Clarence ‘The Big Man’ Clemons died he was being treated for a number of different medical problems. However, the real concern in this medical negligence case is the treatment of his carpal tunnel syndrome. Playing saxophone was what made Clemons who he was and had seen him tour the world with Bruce Springsteen, but carpal tunnel syndrome could very well have been the undoing of all that.

In the months leading up to Clemons stroke and death he had an operation to treat his carpal tunnel syndrome after he suddenly lost feeling in his index finger and thumb. Prior to that operation, Clemons had been taking blood-thinning medication, a common treatment for unhelpful blood clots that could’ve developed as a result of previous surgeries for things like joint replacements and spinal fusion that Clemons had undergone. When his doctor was preparing Clemons for the carpal tunnel syndrome operation, he was taken off this blood thinning medication but he was not prescribed anything to replace it.

His family believe that the doctors and clinics involved in Clemons carpal tunnel syndrome operation were negligent in their care for him as they didn’t prescribe an alternate blood thinning medication that would have in fact prevented Clemons from suffering a stroke, a direct result of a negative blood clot forming.

As you can see, anybody can be affected by medical negligence, and such a simple thing as forgetting or refusing to provide a replacement medication can lead to disastrous complications and consequences.

Medical Negligence Claims on the Rise for GPs | BPC Law Blog

When it comes to medical negligence, it’s not just surgeons in hospitals that are at risk of being taken to court. Over the past few years there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of patients who are filing medical negligence claims against their local GPs. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of GPs in the Sydney area, but only a handful find themselves face to face with a medical negligence lawyer, which raises the question of why are people filing for medical negligence against their GP?

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More than half of the medical negligence claims against GPs are due to wrong or missed diagnoses. We’ve all been to one doctor or another and felt that they haven’t really listened to what we’ve said about our symptoms, or they haven’t been as rigourous in their testing as they could be. Most people then choose to see another doctor to get a second opinion, but is this really the best thing you can do?

This is where claims of medical negligence come in. The NHS in the UK recently suggested that it would create a database accessible to patients that would record important data about their GPs and relevant practices. This database would allow patients to look up their local medical practice and GP and see what percentage of errors they make within a certain time period meaning they can find a quality GP. Realistically, it would be very easy for the media to abuse and manipulate the facts of this database, and it was shouted down by medical organisations.

At present the best way, all around the world, to make sure that a GP who provides poor care is properly handled is to file a medical negligence claim. This is why we’re seeing such a huge rise in medical negligence claims across the world. For the meantime the onus is on the patient to make sure that GP doesn’t continue to get away with poor service.

Crazy Compensation Claims from the Public Service Sector | BPC Law Blog

Not everybody who claims for compensation is as deserving, or even fits the parameters of that scheme of compensation, as others. In Sydney and around Australia, there have been plenty of bizarre compensation claims that would have seen even the most experienced compensation lawyer scratching their head in confusion. These are our top three:

Compensation Claims(image: Shutterstock)

1.      Penis Problems: In March 2010, an obese public servant was on a flight for work. He claimed that he was forced to sit in a small, cramped seat for five hours and these conditions led to his genitals and the surrounding area to swell. His initial bid for compensation was rejected, so he tried again with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. At this appeal he brought forth doctor’s notes that stated his penis had actually retracted into his fat folds, later developing into scrotal cellulitis, which can be life-threatening, and he suffered partial deafness as a result of taking antibiotics to treat it. The tribunal, however, felt that the flight didn’t contribute enough to the man developing the condition and dismissed the appeal.

Compensation Claims(image: Shutterstock)

2.      Toilet Anxiety: In September 2010, a woman spent 20 minutes on the toilet at work as a result of diarrhea. In her workplace, she could only be away for a maximum of ten minutes without an explanation, so she had to explain to a colleague about her downstairs difficulties. She became quite embarrassed and anxious over the matter. A little while later, her work was called into question and she became more anxious, as well as developing headaches and finding it difficult to sleep at night. However, the Tribunal dismissed her appeal.

Compensation Claims(image: Shutterstock)

3.      Free Fitness: A man claimed compensation for a workplace psychological injury that left him with a fear of people and strangers, though he’d found that working out at the gym helped. He was offered by Comcare a $750 gym membership, along with $480 worth of personal training support, although he tried to claim a full $16,000 which he’d spent on personal training. The Tribunal found that he’d overexaggerated his need for a personal trainer to help with his condition, meaning Comcare didn’t need to cover all his gym expenses.

Compensation Claims(image: Shutterstock)

Child Abuse Victims Stand Up for Legal Rights, Demand Compensation | BPC Law Blog

It’s been nearly a year since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and it seems that very little has come out of it. The victims of child abuse, both sexual and non-sexual, have seen very little in return for the high status the inquiry was given. Many victims, and plenty of lawyers as well, have weighed into the debate surrounding what needs to be done and called for equitable compensation for victims. Under any other compensation law in Sydney and around Australia these people would have been compensated, but today they’re still waiting.

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Earlier last month approximately a dozen victims and victims advocates protested outside the front of the Department of Human Services in Melbourne calling for a compensation scheme specifically for victims of child abuse. There’s an overwhelming sense that the general Australian public is unaware of what victims of child abuse have gone through and therefore the move for compensation isn’t getting as much support as it could.

The Royal Commission has received a substantial amount of media coverage, particularly in regards to cases of child abuse of up to fifty or more years ago. Since the announcement of the Royal Commission, connections have been made between the allegations of child abuse and what appears to be a long-time cycle of disenfranchisement with victims often suffering from poverty, poor physical or mental health or even all three.

Such a strong correlation between childhood abuse and life-long hardship only goes to show how desperately a scheme for compensation is needed. Years of childhood abuse can leave a person feeling worthless, detached and emotionally unstable. Such issues have a tendency to seep into the individual’s relationships, work life and social life. It is reported that instances of suicide, unemployment and drug abuse are higher amongst victims of clerical childhood sexual or physical assault.

Each individual victim has endured a specific kind of struggle. Some families have lost love ones, some victims have lost jobs and some have simply lost hope, compensation is about atoning for the sins of clerics in the past and acknowledging the damage that has been done to lives of their victims. Compensation for victims of clerical abuse, that is purposefully designed to achieve a better quality of life for those victims, is about the nation, the church and the government apologising to those that suffered and pledging that it will never happen again.

The Law of Healing: Retrospective Compensation for Bali’s Terror Victims | BPC Law Blog

If you happen to walk down any Sydney street, you might be able to spot the person injured at work, or the one whose operation was botched, but what about the victims of terror attacks? Just because you can’t see the injury, doesn’t make it any less real. It’s a cause that’s been championed for some time, by compensation groups, communities and even politicians, and as of just over a fortnight ago, there’s now retrospective compensation for victims of terrorist attacks.

Compensation(image: Shutterstock)

The government has announced compensation for all Australian victims of terrorist attacks, which will include all terrorist attacks going as far back as September 11.

Under the scheme, which started on October 21 this year, victims of terrorist attacks will be able to claim up to $75,000 in compensation.

You could argue that this scheme has come incredibly late, but for many victims it will be a welcome relief. Though the scheme can’t change what the trauma and hardship these victims have suffered,  it can at least go some way to support the lives of those who’ve been affected, for instance children who’ve been left without parents or those who’ve been severely disabled as a result of terror attacks.

Current estimates suggest that the compensation scheme will help around 300 individuals, as well as their families. In total, this’ll cost about $30 million, a drop in the ocean when you consider what these people have gone through and will continue to go through. Also, Mr Abbott has ensured victims and compensation groups that the latest scheme will not prevent these victims from receiving any pre-existing benefits that they’re entitled to.