The Victorian Government released the final recommendations of the Wrongs Act Inquiry in September 2014, together with its response.
That response supported reforms to the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) (Act) to:
- adjust the psychiatric impairment threshold for general damages to injuries assessed at 10% or more;
- apply the 3x average weekly earnings cap on economic loss to the difference between pre- and post-injury earnings;
- allow a deduction for a deceased person’s personal expenses from their earnings for the purposes of claims for loss of expectation of financial support before applying the economic loss cap;
- provide a limited entitlement for damages for the loss of capacity to care for others;
- increase the cap on general damages so that it aligns with the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 (Vic);
- require that claimants for general damages serve the information required by the Act in a prescribed form; and
- amend the Act to provide that damages for mental harm caused by an aircraft are only recoverable on a strict liability basis if accompanied by personal injury or property damage.
Just prior to the caretaker period for the upcoming state election, the Department of Justice released a public Exposure Draft of the Wrongs Amendment Bill 2014 (Bill) and invited written submissions from the public on its proposals.
The Bill contains provisions implementing reforms 1 to 5. It includes some additional significant reforms including:
- the 3x average weekly earnings cap is expressed to apply to the earnings of the deceased in dependency claims;1
- a new method of annual indexation of the cap on noneconomic loss beginning 1 July 2015; and
- power to a court to stay a proceeding in respect of a claim for non-economic loss damages where the claimant has not served a certificate of assessment.
The Department of Justice is also considering some administrative changes to try to streamline the Medical Panel process in consultation with Medical Panels Victoria.
A change of government in the coming election could see other proposals to reform the Act, but either way, we are unlikely to see any amendments until well into 2015.