Tram Injuries In Melbourne: What You Need To Know About Claiming Compensation

Melbourne residents have enjoyed public tram services since 1884, when a horse-led tram line opened in Fairfield. Since then, the network has grown, and there are now more than 250 kilometres of tram lines in the city. Unfortunately, people who travel on public trams sometimes suffer injuries, which can lead to serious consequences. Learn more about the steps you may need to take following a tram injury, and find out how you can claim compensation.

Frequency of injuries

Public transport injuries (including tram-related incidents) are relatively common in Victoria. Over a six-year period, 1,300 people in Victoria suffered an injury on a public bus or tram. On the tram network, falls cause more injuries than any other type of accident, and passengers often fall to the floor when the tram lurches or stops suddenly. Some passengers have even suffered injuries when the automatic doors on the trams crush them.

Many tram injuries occur through driver error. With pressure to meet rigorous timetables and deal with heavy traffic in the city, tram drivers often fail to notice their passengers and may slam on the brakes without warning. While most trams have signs warning people to hold on, it's still easy to lose your footing if the driver has to perform an emergency stop.

Claiming compensation

There are several options available to members of the public who suffer an injury on Victorian public transport.

The Transport Accident Scheme (TAS) is a publicly funded statutory scheme that offers support and compensation to people who suffer injuries on public transport. The TAS works on a no-fault basis, which means there is no need for you to prove who caused the injury. Claims under the TAS can help pay the cost of medical expenses, income support for up to three years (longer in special cases) and lump sum compensation for serious injuries.

The WorkCover scheme is another publicly funded scheme that offers compensation to people injured at work. The scheme is similar to the TAS and offers benefit on a no-fault basis. If you use public transport to get to work, you can normally claim compensation under WorkCover.

With both these schemes, claims must meet certain criteria. For example, you can generally only claim compensation under the Transport Accident Scheme if you file a claim within one year of an accident. What's more, the Transport Accident Commission places limits on the benefits you can claim for. As such, if you suffer a serious injury, these schemes may not give you the coverage you need. In these cases, you may need to take independent legal action.

Common law claims

If you cannot claim compensation under the WorkCover or Transport Accident Schemes (or if the value of your claim exceeds those schemes' limits), you may need to file a common law claim. In Victoria, the Wrongs Act governs claims for damages that arise from personal injuries due to somebody else's negligence. Crucially, unlike WorkCover and the Transport Accident Scheme, you will need to prove that somebody else caused your injury.

Third parties that could cause an injury on a tram include:

  • The tram driver, whose actions may have directly led to your injury.
  • The public transport provider. For example, you may fall over due to a broken safety rail.
  • A car driver, who causes an accident with a tram that results in your injury.

To file a common law claim, you will need the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. He or she will need to collect detailed evidence that proves that a third-party caused your injury.

You will also need robust medical evidence to prove the extent of your injury. Claims under the Wrongs Act can award monetary compensation, but the amount you receive will depend on the extent of your injuries. The Wrongs Act will consider different types of injury, including prenatal injury, psychological injury and acceleration or recurrence of an underlying injury or disease. A trained lawyer can help you understand how these definitions can apply to your case.

Injuries on trams in Melbourne are relatively common, and serious incidents can cause long-term damage. If you suffer an injury while using a tram, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for more advice.