Compo Claims for Blameless Accidents
In the past, injured people seeking damages for the harm and loss suffered as a result of a motor vehicle accident had to be able to prove that the accident was somebody else's fault.
However, the tragic event in 2003 which saw the then two- year-old Sophie Delezio catastrophically injured when she was trapped under a burning car which had crashed into the child care centre she was attending forced changes to the law.
The crash driver had had an uncontrollable seizure, and changes were made so that victims could be compensated for their injuries and losses in circumstances where no one was to blame for the accident.
These are referred to as "blameless accidents".
On one reading of it, the law appeared to say that the blameless accident provisions did not apply to an injured driver involved in a single vehicle accident where that driver caused the accident by performing an action or by failing to act.
However, it is not always clear what a blameless accident is. For example, is it a blameless accident when a kangaroo collides with a motorcyclist?
The NSW Supreme Court has considered such facts, in the case of a Mr Melenewycz, who was riding his motorcycle on an unsealed country road when a kangaroo jumped into him and caused him relatively significant injuries.
His evidence was that by the time he saw the kangaroo, he did not have sufficient time to react and avoid the collision.
One of the issues in Mr Melenewycz's case was whether or not the fact that he had observed the kangaroo as he approached it meant that the blameless accident provisions did not apply to him and therefore he was not entitled to damages.
Ultimately, Mr Melenewycz won his case on the basis that no act or omission by him as the rider was the cause of the accident and therefore the accident was "blameless".
The Court found that seeing a kangaroo on the side of the road without reacting to it was not the cause of the accident.
The Court's decision further expands the blameless accident provisions to drivers in single motor vehicle accidents who perceive a risk but do not have the opportunity to react to it.
If you, your family or friends wish to enquire about a similar circumstance, please email us via our "Ask Us a Question" feature or call 1800 681 211 to speak to one of our specialist compensation lawyers.