The Role of Fault in a No-Fault Scheme

People injured in transport accidents are entitled to receive “no-fault benefits”. The available no-fault benefits fall into the following four categories:

  1. Hospital and medical coverage from the TAC – Section 60 of the Transport Accident Act 1986.
  2. Loss of Earnings (LOE) benefits which cover income lost during the first 18 months after the accident.
  3. Loss of Earning Capacity (LOEC) benefits which cover loss of income from the 18 month anniversary of the accident until the third anniversary of the accident.
  4. An impairment lump sum which is a lump sum payment for people with permanent impairment in association with their accident related injuries.


Despite the fact that these benefits are called “no-fault benefits” certain accident victims are either ineligible to receive these benefits or ineligible to receive the full benefit. This is due to the fact that certain benefits are either not payable or reduced on account of fault. Appearing below is a table that sets out the nature of the particular driving offence and/or convictions which impact on the entitlement to receive certain no-fault benefits. Where “yes” appears this means that the benefit remains payable but where “no” appears the claimant is not entitled to receive the particular benefit.

In relation to the various driving offences set out in the table above you will see that in most cases a conviction through the Courts is required before the offence impacts upon a no-fault entitlement. Because of this, the TAC is entitled to withhold payments of no-fault compensation, for a period of up to two years after the accident, until a charge is heard or withdrawn. This means that in cases where alcohol was involved, the TAC will not pay income support benefits until a conviction has been entered at which time the Court would certify the blood
alcohol reading. The certification of the blood alcohol reading would then trigger the discount to be applied to income support benefits.

Further, there are provisions which require the accident to have been caused by the alcohol consumed by the driver. For example, a drink driver might be stationary at a red light and get hit from the rear by another vehicle. In this example, even though the driver might have had a high blood alcohol reading, it could hardly be said that the presence of alcohol contributed to the occurrence of the accident. In such a case the discounts would not apply even if the driver were convicted of a drink driving offence. Every case is different and it is important to obtain expert advice from a lawyer who is a specialist in transport accident claims.