Gunshot Road Rage Victim Misses Shot at Compo
The RMB Compensation Divsion looks at two case of driver harassment, with different compensation outcomes for the victims.
So one day you're driving down the road, when another driver bumps your car and then fires their gun into your car. You get hit by several bullets and your day is ruined!
You wake later in hospital thinking you are lucky to be alive. But as the months go by you find you are out of work because of your injuries and financially your life is going down the gurgler. But hey, you're alive!
It sounds strange, but it happens, and did happen in 2008. In the matter of Leach v The Nominal Defendant the injured party brought a claim for injuries suffered as a result of being struck by the bullets which were fired from a moving car.
The plaintiff brought the case on the basis that Section 3A of the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 allows claims for injuries where (amongst other things) the injuries are sustained involving the use or operation of a motor vehicle during driving of a vehicle.
The plaintiff was unsuccessful in his initial court hearing. He then appealed to the NSW Court of Appeal submitting that the earlier judge (Justice Kearns) had erred in his decision.
In his judgement, Justice Kearns discussed a similar matter in the case of Nominal Defendant v Hawkins. In that case the driver of a vehicle was swerving and harassing a bike rider. The dangerous actions of the driver culminated in him throwing an object from the vehicle which struck the bike rider. The rider then hit a telegraph pole and was injured.
The rider successfully obtained compensation for his injuries.
The Court of Appeal distinguished the case of Hawkins from the matter of Leach on the basis that in Hawkins there was a close causal connection between the driving of the vehicle and the injuries sustained by the bike rider.
In the Leach case the court said the gunshot injuries sustained by the appellant were not the direct result of either the driving of the shooter’s vehicle or the collision between it and the vehicle in which the other driver was travelling.
Often with accidents involving motor vehicles, the ability to bring a successful claim will depend on a careful consideration of case law. Strict time limits also apply.