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Bourke Street: Compensating those affected


People across the country were shocked by the devastation caused by the Bourke Street tragedy of January 20, 2017.  Six people died and 31 more were hospitalised following a stolen car’s rampage through Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall.

For many of the victims, the suffering didn’t stop in the aftermath of the tragedy and the question arose as to how they could be adequately compensated.

This piece looks back on how the victims of Bourke Street have sought, and continue to seek compensation and the restitution available in such an event.

The aftermath

Victims of the incident didn’t just suffer physically. Countless were left with severe psychological injuries including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. These psychological injuries aren’t always initially evident and it may be months before victims become aware of their impact.

Compensation was available to assist victims who were injured in the Bourke Street tragedy. Yet due to the unique timing, location and nature of the incident, determining compensation payouts wasn’t a simple process.

Two forms of compensation

Shines' Stuart Le Grand explained that victims of the Bourke Street tragedy fell into one of two available compensation schemes:

1)      Transport Accident Commission (TAC), covering injuries sustained from the vehicle itself.

2)      WorkSafe, covering those who were on a work lunch break at the time of injury.

Compensation may have included a financial award for lost wages, medical expenses and rehabilitation costs. Some victims may also have been entitled to a lump sum for permanent injuries. For further information, see Stuart’s comments on ABC News.

Motor vehicle accident claim

For those who were injured while simply visiting the mall at the time of the incident, a Motor Vehicle Accident claim may have been available through the TAC.

The TAC is a ‘no-fault’ scheme, meaning compensation may be available regardless of who caused the accident. It covers pedestrians injured in motor vehicle accident as well as those in the motor vehicle(s).

TAC compensation claims must be made within 12 months of when the accident occurred or when the injuries first surfaced. There are some exceptions to this, but most have to be made within this window.

Workers’ compensation

For those who sustained injury during their work hours, including their lunch break, compensation may have been available through WorkSafe’s workers’ compensation scheme.

Similar to the TAC, WorkSafe claims also have time limits that apply. The most important of these is that you informed your employer of your injuries within 30 days of the accident.

Written by Shine Lawyers on March 9, 2017. Last modified: August 31, 2018.

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