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Straddle Claims: Can you claim both WorkCover and TAC benefits?

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Please note that this post was written for Victorian audiences and the information within may not apply to other regions.

What is a Straddle Claim?

A straddle claim is when an individual’s eligibility for benefits overlaps both the WorkCover and TAC spheres.

Navigating the intricacies of both the WorkCover and TAC compensation schemes in Victoria can be daunting, especially when an accident might be seemingly covered by both legislations. 

Determining what type of claim to lodge requires consideration of the accident circumstances.

The relevant legislation’s:

  • WorkCover: covers compensation and benefits for work-related injuries or illness and is governed by the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (“WIRC Act”);
  • Transport Accident Commission (“TAC”): covers compensation and benefits for individuals who have been injured as a result of transport accidents in Victoria and is governed by the Transport Accident Act 1986.

When do Straddle Claims Occur?

A Straddle Claim occurs when a person is injured in a transport accident which happens during the course of their employment. This creates an overlap of benefits between the two compensation systems.

You can find some examples below

Straddle Claim Example 1:

Sarah works as a delivery driver for a courier company. One day, while she is driving her van to deliver a package, another vehicle runs a stop sign and collides with her, causing her significant injuries.

In the above example, Sarah has sustained injury as the result of a transport accident which occurred while she was performing work-related duties. Sarah’s employment as a deliver driver and her transport accident are straightforwardly connected.

In this scenario, Sarah would lodge a WorkCover claim against her employer and her statutory entitlements to medical expenses, weekly payments and an impairment benefit will be managed by the WorkCover Insurer.

Importantly, when it comes to recovering common law damages, Sarah will make a claim against the ‘at-fault’ party – in this case, the other driver. At this point, the TAC will step in and indemnify.

Straddle Claim Example 2:

Yusef works in an office as an accountant. Under his contract, he is allocated a one-hour lunch break which he takes from 1PM each day. Yusef’s office is located on Chapel Street and his favourite café is 600 metres away. One lunchtime, on his way to get a coffee, Yusef was crossing Commercial Road at the pedestrian lights when he was struck by a vehicle which ran the red light. Yusef sustains serious injuries as a result.

In this scenario, Yusef has sustained injury as the result of a transport accident which occurred whilst he was on an authorised work break. Such incidents are treated as Straddle Claims and are handled in a similar manner to Example 1 above. 

Straddle Claim Example 3:

The following example illustrates an important distinction

Xiang works as an Uber driver on weekends for some extra income. One Saturday night whilst completing a trip, Xiang is involved in a heavy collision involving a speeding driver and he suffers injuries as a result. Under Uber’s Terms & Conditions, drivers are not considered employees of the company, but are treated as contractors/sole traders. Importantly, they are not covered by any WorkCover umbrella insurance provided by Uber.

The above example has become more and more prevalent in the emerging rideshare economy.

Uber’s ability to opt out of providing drivers and deliver riders on their platform with WorkCover insurance is a matter of some contention.

In our experience, such claims will ultimately default to TAC for both statutory and common law entitlements.

What should I do next?

Straddle claims can be complicated.

For more information, book an appointment with Zaparas Lawyers for your free, no obligation consultation.  

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