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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Personal Injury: Facebook, Google, Defamation and You | BPC Law Blog

Very little of the average Sydneysider’s life isn’t on Facebook or Google. Most of the time, there’s no problem with this, but there are crucial times when you need to be extremely careful what people can find on the internet about you, including what you put out there. You’ve probably heard that when you’re applying for jobs you need to be careful about what’s on your Facebook page, but you might not know that what you post on Facebook can land you in deep water. Any lawyer will tell you that Facebook and Google can be your worst enemies as they can lead you to be sued for defamation and personal injury.

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You might remember late last year a case where an Australian man sued Google for defamation. The details of the case that were released to press revealed that the unnamed man had been shunned and treated differently as a result of his photo appearing alongside gangland figures like Toby Mokbel, as well as a Google search for his name bringing up results relating to an unsolved shooting in 2004.

Google argued hard that they had not published the photos, they were merely the conduit for those photos to be published. They claimed that because their search engine is based off algorithms that trawl the Internet, there’s no way that they could control what content appeared or where.

However, the court found themselves in favour of the unnamed man whose reputation had been ruined as a result of the Google search results, and he’d even been made to feel unwanted in his migrant community. Google was made to pay damages of $200,000 to the man. This compensation came after the same man won a similar case against Yahoo!, who had to pay the man $225,000 in damages. Despite the large sums of cash awarded to the man, he claims that the cases weren’t about money, but instead protecting his family, particularly his children, and his reputation.

Of course, if you do become involved in a defamation case, it’s highly unlikely that it will be on such a large scale. Every day there are smaller, but no less important, cases regarding defamation moving through courts around Australia. The average Australian is more likely to become involved in a defamation case related to content posted to Facebook or Twitter.

It can feel really good to send out a tweet or post on Facebook ripping into someone as an act of revenge. Maybe they broke up with you, insulted your mother, or trashed your car. Your anger then becomes the latest viral fad on the Internet. Posts like that can severely damage a person’s reputation, the people who know the subject of your tweet may begin to treat them differently, even teasing or bullying them. They might miss out on a promotion because it’s not the image the company wants associated with them. And with that a simple Facebook post, written in a moment of rage, can land you in court being sued for defamation.

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When you log back into Facebook or Twitter after a few days and you start to worry that maybe what you wrote really could be defamatory, there are a few things you can do to set the record straight. Firstly, remove the material, so delete the posts or tweets. Next, if the person you attacked claims they’ve been defamed you can, within 28 days, write a written letter of apology that includes an offer to publish a reasonable correction (i.e. “What I said was wrong”), and an offer to pay any expenses that person has encountered as a result of the material at the time of your offer (so they can’t keep asking you for money after the offer has been given). If you’re lucky, your offers will be accepted and the matter will end there. Otherwise you’ll be in court, but having apologised and attempted to make amends, you at least have some good standing.

Defamation is a serious matter as it can have serious consequences to the people involved, not just the victim, but also the defamer. Being found guilty of defamation can suggest to those around you that you lack emotional maturity, or you’re unable to solve a conflict in an adult manner.

Personal Injury: How Important is CCTV Footage When it Comes to Claims of Police Brutality? | BPC Law Blog

It can be hard to believe that claims of police brutality aren’t just works of fiction created by drunk young men stumbling about Sydney’s Kings Cross at night. But, from time to time, these allegations turn out to be true. It’s an awful feeling to discover that the hands of the people we place our safety, and ultimately our lives, could be so cruel, but it does happen. At times like these, it’s important to remember that CCTV cameras are everywhere these days, and any personal injury lawyer will tell you that CCTV footage is very hard evidence to discredit. So how does CCTV footage come into play in cases of police brutality?

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In March this year, questions of police brutality in Sydney emerged after footage of Jamie Jackson being arrested at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras worked its way around the media. These questions were discussed on the ABC’s Radio National Law Report program.

The footage shows a young man who is handcuffed being roughly forced to the ground. In the footage a police officer can be heard telling the filmer that they can’t film as it’s not allowed. For a start, that’s completely untrue. Secondly, it suggests that either the police officer is unsure of what he’s doing himself, or that he’s aware that he’s overstepped the mark in terms of just measures of restraint. But the Mardi Gras incident is not a stand-alone occurrence.

It’s a common thing around the world for people to use video evidence as a means of proving police brutality. If the footage is clear enough, and the context is right, it can be almost impossible to say that the incident didn’t happen the way it appeared to on film. And the police force is aware of it, some members of the police will even go so far as to distract members of the public who are filming incidents and turn their attention away from the potentially illegal misuse of force.

One disturbing case of this distraction technique to the extreme was that of Corey Barker. Barker spent a over year being wrongly accused of assaulting a police officer. The truth of the matter was that Barker had seen some police officers arresting someone, so he took out a mobile phone and began to film it. A police officer came from another direction and tackled Barker to the ground. He was taken to a police station where he was asked to unlock the phone so the police could find out if there was any footage of what had gone on. Barker refused to do so, and he was abused, punched and kicked.

In normal circumstances, Barker wouldn’t have had to front to court on charges of assault as the CCTV cameras in the police station would have clearly shown that he was the victim of assault, not the other way around. However, disturbingly, the footage from those CCTV cameras was tampered with, and it was a huge effort for both the defence team and the court to have the footage repaired. Of course, Barker was found to be telling the truth.

Worryingly, when in court, the police officers questioned all told the same story of Barker punching a member of the police force. They were very neat in the way that they all described the punch in the same way. When combined with the fact that someone or some people had removed the CCTV footage, there was a very obvious case of the police trying to cover up their wrongs.

 

In the end, the case against Barker was dismissed and the whole affair was referred to the Police Integrity Commission, thanks to the lengths these officers went to hide their guilt. Two officers narrowly avoided also being found in contempt of court.

It’s interesting to note that it was the CCTV footage that saved Barker from a charge of assaulting police, as the CCTV camera provides a very neutral context. It wasn’t being directed by anybody, so it wasn’t only capturing the images and sounds a particular person wanted to be seen. Perhaps if a person had filmed it, for instance a friend of Barker, they would have focused on the wounds they the police officers inflicted, or the pain coming across Barker’s face. Or if it’d been another officer filming, they would have only filmed Barker’s refusal to show the footage he’d recorded on his phone, and tried to suggest that Barker was the one refusing to cooperate and therefore the ‘bad guy’.

If you can take anything away from these two incidents and the questions they bring up, it’s that video evidence, particularly CCTV footage, is extremely hard to not only discredit but to remove from the court entirely. No matter what is argued, there’s still a video saying what really went on.