Co-written by Sageevan Perera
On 1 February 2020, the new Motor Accident Injuries Act 2019 (ACT) (MAI Act) came into effect. The MAI Act significantly changes the rights and entitlements of individuals who are injured in motor accidents in the ACT from a common law, full compensation system for those injured as a result of no fault of their own to a limited defined benefit scheme that is based on no-fault.
Anyone injured in a motor accident in the ACT on or after 1 February 2020 can make an application for personal injury benefits. If someone dies from injuries sustained in an accident, an MAI insurer can pay for funeral expenses and death benefits to support dependants. It does not matter who was at fault in the accident.
Exclusions from some defined benefits apply to people that break the law, whose injuries are self-inflicted, or who are paid benefits under a workers compensation scheme.
You can make a personal injury application for:
- Treatment and care benefits including medical treatment (including mental health treatment and pharmaceutical treatment), dental treatment, rehabilitation, respite care, attendant care services, ambulance transportation, aids and appliances, prostheses, education and vocational training, home and transport modification, workplace and educational facility modifications, and care services, like nursing, home maintenance and personal assistance.
- Income replacement benefits for missed paid work as a result of your injuries or if you were unable to start work after the accident.
In order to apply for personal injury benefits, you will need to complete an application form and include a medical report from your doctor about your injuries. Personal injury benefits are payable on an ongoing basis.
A separate personal injury application needs to be made for each injured person, even if they were injured in the same accident. A parent or guardian should sign a form for a person under 18 years of age or person with a disability.
The personal injury application will then need to be sent to the MAI insurer of the vehicle most at fault in the accident. You can find the MAI insurer for a motor vehicle using the Access Canberra registration pages.
An application should be made within 13 weeks of the accident. If you make a late application, you will not receive all benefits back to the date of the accident and you will need to provide a clear explanation why you could not make the application within the 13 weeks. A late application can be made within 2 years from the date of the motor accident.
If you have an injury or injuries of a permanent nature as a result of your motor accident, you may be entitled to a quality of life benefit. You can apply to your MAI insurer for a Whole Person Impairment (WPI) assessment for this benefit from six months after your accident, once your injuries are stable and are considered permanent.
 Phil Schubert ‘Special report: The new Motor Accident Injuries Act 2019’ (2020) 255 Ethos: Official Publication of the Law Society of the Australian Capital Territory 12, 12.
 Motor Accident Injuries Act 2019 (ACT) s 178(1).
 Ibid s 169(1).
 Ibid s 169(2).
 Ibid s 110.
 Ibid s 89.
 Ibid s 58-59.
 Ibid s 59.
 Ibid s 132.