Whether rent constitutes an expense incurred for the purposes of cl 1 (1) of theMotor Accidents (Liabilities and Compensation) Regulations (Tas) 2010
On 28 February 2015 the appellant was injured in a motor vehicle accident. She suffered serious injuries to the brain, spine, chest and abdomen. She usually resided at Bushy Park, and but for the accident she would have continued to reside there however, her doctor advised her to relocate to Hobart. This advice was based on two considerations. Firstly, the appellant needed almost daily medical treatment in Hobart until mid-2016 and secondly, her Bushy Park home was not suited to accommodating her in light of her injuries.
The only appropriate way for the appellant to live in Hobart was to rent a house. She did so and claimed the rental costs as a medical benefit pursuant to the Motor Accidents (Liabilities and Compensation) Regulations (Tas) 2010 (the Regulations). The Motor Accident’s Insurance Board rejected the claim, and the appellant referred the refusal to the Motor Accidents Compensation Tribunal.
The Decision at Trial
The Tribunal held that although in the circumstances of this case, rent had been reasonably and necessarily incurred to enable the treatment to be undertaken, it did not fall within the ambit of the Regulations as defined in cl 1(1), and was therefore not a medical expense. The appellant lodged an appeal.
The Decision on Appeal
The Supreme Court of Tasmania held that the issue was whether the treatment in Hobart was required by the appellant as a result of her injuries, and if so whether the rental of a property was an expense reasonably and necessarily incurred for the provision of that treatment. Although rent is not typically an expense incurred by an injured person, in some cases depending on the circumstances it will be. In this case, rent was a medical benefit because it was reasonably and necessarily incurred for the provision of medical treatment.
The court noted that interpretation was consistent with the beneficial purpose of the legislation and it was therefore proper to give a broad interpretation of the provision.
The appeal was allowed on the basis that the rent paid by the appellant was an expense incurred for the provision of the treatment required by her and therefore a medical benefit within cl 1(1) of the Regulations.
The Regulations operate such that the expenses incurred by an injured person payable as medical benefits need not be directly related to the delivery, supply or service of the treatment required. If medical treatment is needed, and expenses are reasonably and necessarily incurred in order to receive that necessary treatment, those expenses are recoverable under cl 1 (1) of the Regulations.
Bricknell v Motor Accidents Insurance Board  TASSC 40