LLS Staff Seminar #1: When the Damages Run Dry: The Borderlines of Tort, Injury Compensation and Social Security

In the first La Trobe Law School Staff Seminar for 2016, Dr Genevieve Grant, Lecturer at Monash Law School will discuss her research on tort law, ‘double dipping’ and special circumstances review decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.


Tort law aims to compensate injured plaintiffs by placing them in the position they would have occupied if uninjured (as far as money can). In practice, lump sums often ‘run out’ or are prematurely dissipated. Where plaintiffs’ funds have been dissipated, social security plays a key role in providing support. Despite the importance of understanding the interface of the tort and social security systems, there has been little empirical investigation of the experiences of tort plaintiffs who seek early access to social security after their receipt of damages.

Genevieve will present findings of an empirical study of special circumstances review decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. To prevent ‘double dipping’, a compensated tort plaintiff will typically be subject to a social security preclusion period. Under the Social Security Act 1991 (Cth), the Department of Human Services and Centrelink may treat a compensation payment as not having been made, if appropriate in the special circumstances of the case. A finding of special circumstances can have the effect of reducing or waiving the preclusion period, thereby speeding up access to social security. These assessments can be appealed, paving the way for disputes at the border of social security and injury compensation. The disputes provide a rare window on the interface between these chief sources of financial support for people who sustain personal injury. Through content analysis of these decisions, this research sheds light on the characteristics and experiences of claimants who argue for early access to social security after they have received damages.


Dr Genevieve Grant is a Lecturer in the Law Faculty at Monash University, where she teaches litigation and dispute resolution, health law and legal ethics. Genevieve has a PhD in Law and Public Health, and a past history as an injury litigation lawyer. Her research is empirical and socio-legal and her interests include injury compensation and civil justice.


Date: Thursday 3 March 2016

Time: 12.45pm to 2pm

Venue: Martin Building, Level 3, Room 362A, La Trobe University, Bundoora

Cost: Free

RVSP: Please RSVP via Eventbrite by Tuesday 1 March 2016.

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