Court Awards Over $500,000 in Damages to Plantiff Injured When Struck by Stolen Vehicle

Published 07 Dec 2012

We acted for a client who was injured in June 2009 when he parked his Australia Post van on Main Street in Newcastle in order to make a delivery. As he was in the process of making the delivery a thief jumped into his van and attempted to steal it. The Plaintiff having noticed the thief attempting to steal his van dropped his trolley and ran back to the van. The Plaintiff stood in front of the van in an effort to try to stop the thief from driving away however, the thief accelerated and swerved the van colliding into our client knocking him to the ground.

As a result of the collision, our client sustained an injury to his head. He was unconscious and was bleeding from the back of the head. He had general bruising and abrasions to the rest of his body, including his knee, his arms and suffered injuries to the neck and back predominantly.

Witnesses who were at the scene attended on our client and assisted him by providing first aid care until the ambulance arrived. When the ambulance arrived he was transported to John Hunter Hospital where he was admitted and treated for several days.

Our client instructed us to act on his behalf in about November 2009. we conducted preliminary investigations including obtaining the Police File, Witness Statements and an expert report on Liability from an Engineer. A claim form was completed and submitted against the defendant’s CTP Insurer, NRMA Insurance Australia Limited on the basis that the unidentified thief drove the vehicle in a reckless and careless manner without having regard to the safety of the Plaintiff on the road. NRMA Insurance Australia Limited denied the claim initially and this necessitated the commencement of proceedings in the District Court.

LIABILITY ISSUES

NRMA Insurance Australia Limited denied liability for the accident stating that our client should not have left his keys in the vehicle and should not have run towards the stolen van. The NRMA alleged contributory negligence on the basis that our client put himself in harms way and that he should not have left his keys in the van and that he should have locked it and secured it before making the delivery.

Contributory Negligence was disputed by us on behalf of our client on the basis that the unidentified thief drove the vehicle at him having clearing seeing the Plaintiff standing on the side of the van. His act of driving the vehicle was intentional and deliberate and as such, we argued that there should be no Contributory Negligence.   

CONCLUSION

The matter proceeded to Hearing in the District Court of New South Wales before a Judge. No offers were made by the NRMA Insurance and as such, the Judge had to determine the case on the facts and evidence that was before it.

After several days, the client and his family gave evidence about the accident and how it had changed the client’s life. The Judge accepted our client as being a witness of truth and awarded him a significant amount of damages to compensate him for treatment expenses, wage loss that he had suffered from the date of the accident to the present time, wage loss in the future, care that had been provided to him by his family and paid care in the future.

We achieved an excellent result for our client and he was happy with the outcome and our professional expert advice and service.

We are a highly specialised and focused firm with our firm being small enough to care intimately for our clients, but large enough to have solid financial, medical and expert resources our clients needs to match the big insurers we fight everyday.

This case is a clear example of a situation where the insurer was not prepared to negotiate and we had to focus our efforts and resources and time into running the case before a Judge and fighting the insurer in order to obtain a result and justice for our injured client.