Wendy Eccles with her family, Amy and Emma. 111215AS12 picture: AARON SAWALLA PURNIM woman has been denied compensation from the Transport Accident Commission in a Victorian-first test case to have the cost of modifying a caravan for wheelchair access covered.
Nanjing Night Net

Wendy Eccles, who was severely injured in a 1993 accident, last year issued proceedings in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), requesting the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) help with costs of modifying a standard caravan with a lift mechanism, which would allow her to enjoy holidays with her husband and three children.

The family purchased a caravan with special modifications catering to Mrs Eccles’ needs as a quadriplegic, costing about $60,000 more than a standard caravan, but the TAC has refused to contribute towards the difference.

Gary Foster of Madden’s Lawyers argued the caravan and its features should be considered an aid, but the tribunal last week found the caravan was an “unsustainable interpretation” of a rehabilitation service and aid.

Despite the result, Mrs Eccles yesterday told The Standard she did not regret the experience.

“You’ve got to try these things,” she said.

“We could take it to the Supreme Court now, but unless you’re fairly certain you’re going to win the expenses are probably not worth it.

“We weren’t surprised with the VCAT ruling but it’s still disappointing. You just have to explore every avenue if there’s even a small chance.

“Everybody’s interpretation of the act and law are different, but at the end of the day a decision was made.

“We feel morally they should do this, but legally they don’t have to.”

Mr Foster said the decision involved a “very narrow interpretation of the provisions of the Transport Act”.

“It’s an example of where sometimes the law and justice don’t meet up,” he said.

However, Mrs Eccles said it was important for people in a similar situation to pursue compensation if they felt entitled.

“It’d be nice to lobby someone who can look at the act and what TAC already do. We’ve had a good experience with TAC and they certainly fund a lot of equipment for me, but it’s frustrating because we do know at least one person has had a level of funding for something similar, and that doesn’t set a precedent.”

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