Rory’s law: improving rights for cyclists on Victoria’s roads

Rory’s law: improving rights for cyclists in Victoria

Cyclists are particularly vulnerable on our roads, however in 2018, a Victorian farmer used his own tragic cycling accident to campaign for an important change in Victorian law which renders all cyclists injured in road accidents eligible for TAC benefits.

Rory’s tragedy: slipping through the legal cracks

Rory Wilson was out on a bike ride with friends in 2014 when he collided with the back of a parked furniture truck in wet and windy weather conditions. He suffered significant injuries and was left a paraplegic. In the days following the accident, he also suffered strokes which left him needing to learn and read again.

Devastatingly, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) denied Rory compensatory benefits. Under Victorian’s Transport Accident Act 1986, cyclists could only access TAC benefits if they hit a moving vehicle, a car door or a stationary vehicle on the way to or from work.

Rory appealed the TAC decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), as the accident did occur as he was riding home to his farm, which was also his place of employment. However VCAT affirmed TAC’s decision, ruling that Rory’s bike ride was entirely recreational, and it could not reconcile the travel and his place of employment to bring his accident under the legislation.

So, as Rory was not riding to or from work, his case slipped through the legislative cracks.

Rory appealed the VCAT decision to the Court of Appeal, however the Court of Appeal ruled that the ride must be for the purpose of completing employment and not purely recreational in nature.

In reaching his decision, Bell J stated:

 “Mr Wilson undertook work before and intended to undertake work after the ride at the place of employment where he both lived and worked – the farm. Contrary to the submissions made on his behalf, this does not bring the case within s 3(1A)(c). On the proper interpretation of this provision, the question is whether the ride was connected with the employment at the place. This criterion is not satisfied by a rider’s intention to undertake employment at the place after completing a ride that was not connected to that employment.”[1]

Rory’s dedication sees real change

Despite the disappointing result in the Court of Appeal, Rory and his dedicated team of supporters campaigned for the laws to be changed, and in September 2018, their hard work paid off when the Victorian Government amended the legislation.

What does this mean for cyclists?

Thanks to the passing of what is now known colloquially as “Rory’s Law”, the rights of cyclists have been significantly improved and this loophole finally closed. Previously, cyclists involved in accidents with stationary vehicles were only entitled to compensation if they were travelling to work. Now all cyclists injured in road accidents at any time are eligible for TAC benefits.

The amendment is retrospective, which includes Rory and any cyclist who has experienced a similar accident since 9 July 2014.

The change ensures that cyclists like Rory get the help they need and are not victims of a legal loophole.

Are you a cyclist that has been in an accident?

It is important that you lodge a claim strictly within 12 months from the date of your accident. If your claim is lodged outside the 12-month period, the TAC has a discretion to consider your claim if it is lodged within 3 years.

Please follow our guide on the TAC claims process.

As with any complicated process, TAC claims can seem overwhelming. When you are already managing the stress and discomfort of an injury, you do not need additional financial and bureaucratic stresses potentially impeding your rest and recovery. Always seek clear and helpful legal advice if you believe that you need it. Our team are always here to help on 1300 57 25 18.

 

If you want more information on the TAC visit: www.tac.vic.gov.au 

 

[1] Wilson v Transport Accident Commission [2017] VSC 209