The maximum amount of damages for a non-economic loss that Victorians can claim from their insurer may be set to rise thanks to government proposed changes.
The Victorian government has outlined changes to the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) that could see the amount of damages available for a claim rise to $571, 000. This would put the general damages inline with the state WorkCover figure and both amounts would be indexed in the same way.
The proposed changes are still in their formative stages and, with the upcoming state elections, could be shelved.
Noa Zur, a senior associate at law-firm Wotton +Kearney, called the proposed changes “modest” as they fail to cover the full range of changes proposed by the industry.
“The main thing is they are modest changes.
“It would be a case-by-case scenario of course but there is scope there for a higher damages amount for claimants.”
Zur outlined the current procedure in Victoria which allows plaintiffs to continue with court proceedings without a certificate of assessment that outlines the cost amount that plaintiffs seek from insurers. The proposed changes will help clarify when a proceeding can be stayed due to lack of information, which could lead to savings for the insurance industry.
“This change that they are proposing would allow the court to stay a proceeding, so from an insurance point of view it means less cost because if you stay the proceeding you’re not going through all the procedural steps, going to mediation and doing all of these things that rack up cost when you don’t know how much the claim is worth.
“It will let the defendants know what they’re dealing with and until they know what they’re dealing with, the proceeding will be stayed and remains abeyance until the certification is provided.”