If you live in Victoria and have suffered injuries or losses that are the result of another’s negligence, intentional harm or an accident, you may be able to seek compensation through various avenues, depending on the nature of your injury. Multiple avenues may exist for the one incident and that’s one reason why it is important to seek advice that is specific to your situation.

We’ve put together this guide to help you better understand the ins and outs of making a claim in Victoria. If you have specific questions, please, reach out to our team, and we’ll be happy to help.

There are different types of compensation schemes, run through state-governed bodies such as the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) and WorkCover. Medical negligence claims and public liability cases are often covered by insurance policies (such as public liability or professional indemnity coverage) attached to the person or organisation responsible for the incident. 

Additionally, victims of crime may be able to access Victims of Crime compensation, and institutional abuse and historical injustices may be able to seek redress or compensation through legal channels such as the Redress scheme, or directly against an individual or organisation. 

To further complicate things, people who have experienced a personal injury in Victoria may also be able to make a claim through civil litigation  (resolving a matter in court), based on common law (which we’ll touch on further along in this article), statutes or other sources of law.  


To Start With, What Is A ‘Personal Injury’ claim? 

A personal injury, in the context of a legal compensation claim, refers to any physical or psychological harm suffered by an individual – damage to a person’s mind, body or emotions.  

This can enable an individual to claim basic entitlements, including medical expenses, income support or smaller lump sum payments or if you have suffered injury due to someone else’s negligence or fault, an individual may make a claim through civil litigation seeking damages including for pain and suffering and economic loss.

Compensation Lawyers - Workplace Injury

What Types Of Personal Injuries Are Eligible For Compensation In Victoria?

There are a number of different types of personal injury claims, including:

  •  Transport accident claims;
  •  Worker’s Compensation and Comcare claims;
  • Public liability claims;
  • Medical Malpractice claims;
  •  Asbestosis, Silicosis and Dust Disease claims;
  • Crimes Compensation (including VOCAT and Sentencing Act) claims;
  • Civil Aviation claims;
  •  Superannuation Income Protection (IP) and Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) claims.

Each type of claim is handled differently, which we’ll cover in more detail below, with some further links for more in-depth information.


Transport Accident claims

 If you are injured as a result of a car accident or as a pedestrian, you may be able to make a claim for your injuries, most often through the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), which is a state-level organisation that manages road-related injuries. 

The TAC has a ‘No Fault’ scheme which enables an injured party to claim various benefits, including income support, medical and like expenses and even a lump sum payment, even if the accident was your own fault. It is also possible to bring a ‘Common Law’ if the accident was caused (at least in part) by reason of the negligence or fault of another.

Damage to motor vehicles or personal property is not an area of personal injury law, this is generally covered by insurers, or taking direct legal action for costs against the person who caused the damage.

Work Related Injuries & Illnesses 

Workers who suffer injury or illness in the course of their employment may be eligible for benefits by making a WorkCover claim. WorkCover also has a ‘No Fault’ scheme providing injured workers with access to income support, medical and like expenses and a lump sum payment for permanent injuries suffered.

For serious and permanent injuries, it is also possible to bring an action in ‘Common Law’ for damages if the accident was caused by the negligence or fault of the employer or another party.

 As of March 31st, 2024,  WorkCover has introduced the Scheme Modernisation Act and is changing some of the laws, which you can read more about here.  (28/05 – Keira to update the link when WorCover article is written)

Injuries in a Public Place – Public Liability claims

Property owners, councils and occupiers of residential, government owned and commercial properties have a responsibility to keep their premises safe. If someone is injured due to dangerous conditions on someone else’s property, such as slip and fall accidents, they may be eligible to seek compensation. These claims can result in compensation for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, loss of income, and pain and suffering.

Public liability refers to the legal responsibility of individuals, businesses, or government entities to compensate others for injuries or property damage that occur on their premises or as a result of their activities, generally through a public liability insurance policy.

Medical Malpractice

If a healthcare professional such as a doctor, dentist, nurse or surgeon, fails to provide an appropriate standard of care, resulting in injury or harm to someone in their care, the patient may have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. This can apply to medical conditions that are misdiagnosed, incorrect medication types or dosages being administered or procedures that are not done correctly, as well as some types of birth trauma or injury.

Asbestos, Mesothelioma, Silicosis & Related Lung Diseases

Exposure to substances such as asbestos, silica and dust can lead to severe health issues such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, silicosis and asbestosis. Victims may pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, even if the exposure happened a long time ago. These claims can also potentially be fast-tracked, due to the aggressive nature of some of these conditions.

Institutional and historical abuse claims

Victims of historical and/or institutional abuse can make a civil claim for damages because of the abuse (whether it be sexual, physical, emotional, financial or neglectful abuse) perpetrated by the institution or offender.

Institutional abuse can occur in a vast number of settings including but not limited to schools, foster care, daycare, churches, sporting clubs or social organisations such as scouts.

A National Redress Scheme has been established by the Australian Government to provide compensation to those that experienced institutional child sexual abuse.

If you’re a survivor, it is important to seek expert legal advice and understand your rights if you do choose to seek compensation.

Aviation claims

Damages can be claimed for injuries caused by accidents caused in-flight, onboard an aircraft, embarking or disembarking an aircraft, from the insurance company of the airline or aircraft carrier. It is also possible for additional insurance cover through private travel insurances.

Crimes compensation claims

If someone intentionally causes harm or injures another person, or their property, the victim may seek compensation through legal action. Victims can pursue compensation for their injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This is commonly done through the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal, but can also be pursued by suing the offender directly.

Dependency claims – for the loss of a loved one

In the tragic event that a loved one is killed, various avenues of compensation exist to recover financial support for the loved one’s dependants.

WorkCover and the TAC enable the dependants of a deceased person to claim for financial support including a weekly pension, funeral expenses and lump sum compensation, if the death occurred in the course of employment or a transport accident.

If a loved one is killed, by reason of the negligence of another, it is also possible to make a claim for past and future loss of financial dependency and services in Common Law.

Work Injury

What is Negligence?

Negligence refers to breach of a ‘duty of care’, that is owed to another. This concept of a ‘duty of care’ is the legal obligation to exercise reasonable care not to cause foreseeable harm to another person or their property.

The concept of negligence is a key aspect of a number of different compensation schemes including TAC, WorkCover, Medical Negligence and/or Public Liability claims. In some situations, it is clear that a breach of a duty of care has occurred however in other situations, this may be less clear and difficult to establish. This concept is explained in greater depth here (update with link when article about duty of care written).


How Do I Know If My Personal Injury Will Be Eligible For Compensation?

In recent years, compensation payments in Victoria have varied widely depending on the nature and severity of the injury, as well as the circumstances surrounding the incident. Landmark cases and appeal outcomes have influenced the legal landscape, setting precedents for future claims and shaping the way compensation is awarded.

Some matters are very straightforward. Falling over due to an unsafe building structure and breaking your arm that is captured on CCTV, will generally be pretty easy to prove, as will showing the level of pain experienced, and who is responsible, as well as the extent of the injury. Other matters in which there is little or no evidence, or when witnesses disagree, can be much harder to prove and therefore claim for – but people do make successful claims in these circumstances.

Personal injury claims can be difficult to successfully make without the expertise of experienced legal professionals who understand the intricacies of Common Law, public liability, and other relevant legal principles.

The time and stress factors involved with managing your own case can be significant, and without understanding the law, claims can be delayed, denied or resolved with a compensation amount far below what was possible. 

By seeking solid legal advice and representation, individuals can ensure their rights are protected and have a far better chance of receiving fair compensation for their injuries and losses.

What Sort Of Payout Amount Can I Expect?

In Victoria, personal injury claims can arise from various circumstances, ranging from motor accidents to medical negligence and workplace injuries. Understanding the compensation payment ranges for these claims is difficult for individuals seeking justice and financial support, without the support of expert legal advice.

It is difficult to estimate the range of compensation that any individual claim may achieve at the outset. However, the legislation prescribes caps as to the amount of compensation available.

Below, we have listed the monetary caps and thresholds for Common Law claims in Victoria as of 1 July 2023:

Transport accident common law claims:

Minimum threshold – $63,880.00

Pain and suffering – statutory maximum $639,200.00

Economic loss – statutory maximum $1,438,310.00

Workers’ compensation common law claims

Pain and suffering – minimum threshold $70,320.00 and maximum $713,780.00

Economic loss – minimum threshold $72,820.00 and maximum $1,639,480.00

Public liability and Medical Negligence claims:

Pain and suffering – statutory maximum $713,780.00

Economic loss – maximum weekly amount $3,991.80

Notable Case Law

McGiffin v Fosterville Gold Mine Pty Ltd [2022] VSC 665

In this case, a 25 year old worker suffered significant right upper limb injuries developing complex regional pain syndrome and a psychiatric condition in a workplace incident where he was struck on the head and right shoulder by machinery operated by a co-worker. The Victorian Supreme Court found that the worker’s employer had been negligent and awarded the Plaintiff over $1.9 million in compensation (specifically $450,000.00 for pain and suffering damages and $1.5 million for economic loss).

Biggs v O’Connor [2021]

In this tragic case, the Defendant was driving his motorcycle with Mr Biggs as a pillion passenger. The Defendant lost control and unfortunately Mr Biggs was killed.

Mr Biggs’ widow sued the Defendant for her nervous shock and psychiatric injuries arising out of the accident and death of her husband.  

Prior to the accident, Mr Biggs, the Defendant and two other friends had been playing golf before consuming some alcoholic beverages at the golf club’s bar. The Defendant alleged that he was not liable to pay compensation to the Plaintiff on the basis that Mr Biggs had voluntarily assumed the risk of an accident occurring, given he ought to have been aware that the Defendant was intoxicated.

The Court examined evidence including CCTV footage from the golf club and heard from other golfers that day and concluded that Mr Biggs was unlikely to have been aware of exactly how much alcohol the Defendant had consumed and further, the Defendant did not appear objectively intoxicated. Accordingly, the Defendant’s Defence failed and the Court awarded Mrs Biggs $275,000.00 for pain and suffering damages and $380,000.00 for economic loss.

West v Rosenlis [2021] VSC 41

In this case, Mr West and Mr Rosenlis spent a day jet skiing on Lake Nagambie. At one point, entering the Goulburne River with a 5 knot speed zone. Mr West slowed his jet ski, complying with the speed decrease and drifted slowly to the left. Mr Rosenlis did not comply with this speed decrease and collided directly with Mr West and his jet ski. Mr West suffered significant injuries as a result.

Mr Rosenlis was charged and pleaded guilty to driving his jet ski in a dangerous manner causing injury.

National Compensation Lawyers assisted Mr West with a claim against Mr Rosenlis directly. The Court found Mr Rosenlis negligent in the driving of his jet ski and ordered he pay Mr West the sum of $350,000.00 in compensation.

Notable Appeal Outcome

Comensoli v O’Connor [2023] VSCA 131

The Plaintiff in this matter commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of Victoria for injuries suffered by reason of historical abuse occurring between 1968 – 1970, by an assistant priest. His Honour Justic Keogh found the Archdiocese vicariously liable for the abuse perpetrated and awarded the Plaintiff $525,000.00 for pain an suffering, $15,000.00 for future treatment expenses and $1,500,000.00 for economic loss.

The Defendant appealed the decision on the basis that the award for pain and suffering was manifestly excessive. The Court of Appeal refused the appeal and confirmed the decision of Keogh J citing the “destructive impact of child sexual abuse”.

Kozarov v State of Victoria

In this case, the Plaintiff was a solicitor who suffered significant psychiatric injuries in the course of her employment in the course of her employment with the OPP. Specifically, suffering vicarious trauma when exposed to disturbing child abuse material.

At first instance, the Plaintiff’s case proceeded in the Supreme Court and was awarded $435,000.00 in damages. That decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal. Ultimately the plaintiff made an application to appeal to the High Court and was successful.

The High Court observed that the Plaintiff’s role was an inherent and obvious danger to her mental health and that her employer owed a duty of care to proactively reduce their risk of psychiatric injury.