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TAC compensation anguish for grieving mum

Brett Roberts with daughter at an AFL match in 2013.

Brett Roberts with daughter at an AFL match in 2013.

Mrs Roberts had to break the news to his parents, her parents and their five children, and identify his body for the coroner.

She lost her soul mate, who filled her with love after her first partner took his own life. Mr and Mrs Roberts had a daughter of their own, and he became a father to her four older boys – the sons of her first partner.

“Brett was there to tell them how loved they were and how lucky he was to have them as his sons. Brett wanted to adopt the boys, but never got the chance to do this before his life was taken,” Mrs Roberts said.

“Brett was my soul mate, he loved me for me and was there by my side.”

The repercussions of his death have been immense. Without mortgage insurance, Mrs Roberts was unable to meet repayments and lost the family home. She says the ordeal left her unable to work.

Now a single parent with five children to support, Mrs Roberts put in what’s called a nervous shock claim with the TAC. It is a common compensation claim brought by those whose loved ones have been killed in a car crash through no fault of their own.

Payouts are usually more than $100,000.

A claimant must have suffered a serious injury to qualify, but in Mrs Roberts’ case, the TAC determined she didn’t meet the serious injury threshold.

Her lawyer Jeremy King, from Robinson Gill, said the TAC argued Mrs Roberts’ issues are pre-existing.

“Her husband Brett was everything to her,” Mr King said.

“If anything, her past makes it worse because she had been through so much and she had started to get her life together, she had her family together and had the love of her life and that was brutally ripped away,” Mr King said.

Amy Roberts, pictured with her husband Brett Roberts on their wedding day less than two years before he was killed in a car crash.

Amy Roberts, pictured with her husband Brett Roberts on their wedding day less than two years before he was killed in a car crash.

Mrs Roberts, who had worked as a forensic case manager for people coming out of prison, said she has turned to the courts so her children could be financially supported.

“I didn’t eat or sleep for weeks after the accident and I still struggle to this day. I live with constant sickness, anxiety, panic and fear that stops me from most days being able to even get out of bed,” she said.

Mr King urged the TAC to take a compassionate approach.

“The TAC are really good, most of the time, for people that are dealing with orthopedic injuries. They’re good at speeding them through the process,” he said.

“Amy’s injury is a different type of injury, but it’s no less serious.”

Her case is booked to go to the County Court in February next year.

The TAC wouldn’t comment on Mrs Roberts’ case, saying they don’t talk about individual claims for privacy reasons and the case is before the court.

A spokeswoman said if nervous shock is established as a serious injury that resulted from the death of a loved one in a transport accident that wasn’t their fault, common law damages (for example, pain, suffering and economic loss) can be claimed.

Mrs Roberts’ cousin pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and avoided jail in his sentencing in May this year, ordered to serve a four-year sentencing in the community and 300 hours of unpaid work.

The County Court heard he had consumed alcohol, but wasn’t over the limit. He lost control while driving about 70km/h in a 60km/h zone.

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