Overseas travel to attend medical examinations in Australia policy

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POLICY

The TAC can consider paying the reasonable travel expenses incurred outside of Australia for a client to attend a medical examination or impairment assessment that is used to assess their no-fault entitlements under the Transport Accident Act 1986 (The Act). This includes any examination arranged by the TAC, jointly or by the person who is injured or their legal representative.

BACKGROUND

Part 3 of the Act limits the payment of travelling expenses to travel within Australia.  However, the TAC will consider the payment of reasonable cost of international travel under sections 13(1) and 27(3)(d) when a face-to-face examination with a Victorian medical examiner is the most appropriate course of action.   

GUIDELINES

What is the Impairment process for client's living overseas?

The client or their legal representative must provide the TAC with updated medical information from the treating doctor/s regarding the injuries sustained in the accident and any relevant pre-existing injuries. This information should be sufficiently detailed to firstly enable the TAC to assess whether the client is stable and whether they are likely to be entitled to an impairment benefit. This information must be provided to the TAC prior to booking any Joint Medical Exams (JME).

Providing the client is stable and likely to be entitled to an impairment benefit, the TAC is required to engage with the client or their legal representative regarding the most appropriate way to assess impairment. Options include the following:

  1. Obtaining desktop assessments based on treating information
  2. The TAC can use sufficiently detailed updated medical information from the client's treating doctor/s to arrange desktop impairment assessments with the appropriate accredited doctors in Victoria. This can also be done jointly with the client's legal representative via the JME process.

  3. Arranging examinations in the client's country of residence then obtaining desktop assessments based on treating information
  4. The TAC can arrange examinations in the client's country of residence (or nearest to) then use the reports to obtain desktop impairment assessments with the appropriate accredited doctors in Victoria. This can also be done jointly with the client's legal representative via the JME process.

What if a client's legal representative wants to request a JME for a client living overseas?

The client's legal representative is required to advise the TAC that they would like to arrange JME's for their client. The legal representative is encouraged to advise the TAC prior booking the JME's with the reasons for the client travelling to Australia for assessment and why it is the most appropriate course of action.

As the JME process was brought in to have a positive impact on client experience, the TAC is required to explore more appropriate alternatives than bringing the client to Australia for JME's. This will ensure the client is minimally impacted by the assessment process. The TAC will seek agreement with the client's legal representative to obtain desktop assessments or arrange examinations in the client's country of residence (or nearest to) then obtain desktop assessments.

When desktop assessments are agreed to    

The client's legal representative can request JME's from all relevant accredited doctors within Victoria to conduct desktop assessments. This will allow an assessment of the client's impairment level and enable the negotiation of an outcome with minimal disruption to the client.

When can the TAC approve a JME for a client living overseas?  

If there is not a more appropriate alternative (i.e. desktop assessments or exams in the client's country of residence) than bringing the client to Australia for examinations, the TAC will communicate this to the client's legal representative and advise that they can submit a JME request. The TAC considers the reasonable cost for overseas air travel to be one regular economy return airfare for the injured client. Any request for more than one regular economy return airfare will require TAC approval.

What happens if the TAC receives a JME request for a client living overseas and the client's legal representative does not advise the TAC?

The TAC will request more information from the client's legal representative, including information from the client's treating doctor/s to ascertain whether the client is stable and likely to be entitled to an impairment benefit. Providing both these conditions have been met, the TAC will engage with the client's legal representative regarding the most appropriate way to assess impairment which may include obtaining desktop assessments or arranging examinations in the client's country of residence.  

What happens if the TAC approves a JME request and later finds out the client lives overseas?

The JME approval should be placed on hold and a more appropriate alternative explored with the client's legal representative. If a more appropriate alternative is found, the JME request will be denied. If a more appropriate alternative is not found, the JME request can be approved by the TAC.

Medical examinations for non-impairment purposes

Although this policy predominantly relates to JME requests for impairment assessments, it is also applicable for clients with regards to obtaining updated medical information from the client's treating doctor/s overseas in order to arrange desktop assessments within Victoria. If this is not appropriate, examinations could be arranged in the client's country of residence (or nearest to) with the reports being used to obtain desktop assessments within Victoria. If there is not a more appropriate alternative than bringing the client to Australia for examinations, the TAC can consider approving the examinations and associated travel expenses. The TAC considers the reasonable cost for overseas air travel to be one regular economy return airfare. Any request for more than one regular economy return airfare will require TAC approval.