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If you have suffered severe injuries in a motor vehicle accident in South Australia, you may be entitled to receive assistance from the Lifetime Support Scheme ('the Scheme') or compensation under the Compulsory Third Party ('CTP') insurance.

What is the Lifetime Support Scheme?

The Lifetime Support Scheme provides reasonable and necessary treatment, care and support services. It covers the cost of items such as medical treatment, personal care, equipment and home modifications.

The Lifetime Support Scheme is available to people who, as a result of a motor vehicle accident, suffer severe spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, amputations, severe burns and permanent blindness. If you are eligible, you can receive assistance from the Lifetime Support Scheme, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

Claims for pain and suffering

The Lifetime Support Scheme does not provide compensation for pain and suffering or lost income. If your motor vehicle accident was caused either completely or in part by the negligence of another driver, you may be able to claim compensation from the compulsory third party (CTP) insurer, in addition to receiving assistance from the Lifetime Support Authority.

In order to make a claim for pain and suffering, your injuries will be assessed under the Injury Scale Value ('ISV'). If your injuries are assessed as being 11 points out of 100 or greater, you are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering. If your injuries are severe enough to put you on the Lifetime Support Scheme, it is likely that you will meet this threshold.

Claims for lost income

If you have lost income after being unable to work as a result of a motor vehicle accident, you are able to claim for past lost income, from the date of the accident until settlement of your claim, minus the first week’s loss. This is based on previous tax returns or by supplying a letter from your employer. The legislation allows for up to 80% of your lost income to be paid You are also entitled to claim any lost superannuation benefits that you would have received from your employer.

In order to claim lost income for the future (often called future economic loss), you need to have an ISV of at least eight points. Once again, if your injuries are serious enough for you to be on the Lifetime Support Scheme, you will most likely reach this threshold.

Future economic loss can be difficult to calculate as you have to predict what your income is likely to have been in the future and compare it with what your income is now likely to be in view of your injuries. As with claims for lost income, any future economic loss is only paid out to a maximum of 80% of the total figure under the legislation.

Interim participants v Lifetime participants

Another consideration is whether you will be an interim participant of the Scheme or a lifetime participant. If you are only an interim participant of the Scheme, once you are no longer a participant, your expenses will no longer be paid by the Lifetime Support Scheme. In these circumstances, you should claim future medical, equipment and care costs under the CTP scheme. You should not settle your CTP claim without first ascertaining whether you are a permanent participant of the scheme.

Seek advice

There are strict deadlines in place for making a CTP claim. All claims for compensation under the CTP system must either be finalised before the three year anniversary of the accident, or proceedings must be issued in court. There are different deadlines in relation to children.

It is therefore important to see a lawyer who specialises in personal injuries as soon as possible following the accident to ascertain whether you are eligible for a CTP claim or the Lifetime Support Scheme.

For more information about making a CTP claim, read our article ‘seven steps to making a claim after being injured in a car accident here.