TRANSPORT Accident Commission chief executive Janet Dore has labelled legal criticism of changes to the Transport Accident Act as "misleading and unnecessarily alarming".
Ms Dore made the comments after the Bendigo Advertiser published an article on Friday quoting a local lawyer, John Stephenson.
Mr Stephenson said an amendment tabled in State Parliament last week would make it harder for people to claim damages for a mental injury resulting from a traffic accident.
He said it would also disadvantage country people the most, as they had less access to psychiatric and psychological services than city people.
In a letter Ms Dore said the TAC was "committed to supporting Victorians who were injured or had lost loved ones in a transport accident.
"These proposed legislative changes will increase some of the benefits available to regional Victorians, as well as ensure the scheme’s long-term viability to help all Victorians who need TAC support into the future," Ms Dore said.
"We’ve increased family counselling from $5,870 to $15,000 ensuring families have access to more support at such a difficult time.
"For the first time, we will have a modern definition of serious mental injury.
"This will ensure that mental injury claims are treated consistently and encourage people to access treatment early.
"This will not exclude Victorians with a mental injury from funded TAC support or from compensation. What it does do, is clarify the access to common law damages and make the law clearer.
"The proposed changes will simply bring mental injuries in line with physical injuries, in that only people with severe mental injuries can sue for damages.
"This will make the transport accident scheme fairer for all injured Victorians."
But Mr McPherson said mental injuries were already "in line" with physical injuries, as the law already provided that only people with 'severe mental injuries' could seek to recover damages.
"It is arrant nonsense, utterly unbefitting of TAC's CEO, to say that such a result will be achieved through the proposed changes," he said.
"Either Ms Dore does not understand the proposed reforms or she is wilfully misleading as to their nature."
Author's note: Friday's article quoting Mr McPherson should have read "damages" rather than "compensation" in paragraphs 2 and 5.