Recent Vanuatu motor vehicle accident compensation court case

Published 02 Aug 2016

While at Gerard Malouf and Partners we specialise in NSW and QLD motor vehicle accident claims some of our more experienced solicitors also have a wealth of experience in running claims for accidents in the Pacific Islands.

Karie v Toyota Tsusho (Vanuatu) 2014 is a recent Supreme Court of Vanuatu motor vehicle accident decision.

On 2 March 2007, the owner of the vehicle had 4 new tyres fitted to his vehicle. Later that evening the owner of the vehicle took the Plaintiff for a drive, suddenly the vehicle went out of control and went off the road causing injuries to both men.

Both the Plaintiff and the owner of the vehicle sued the defendant for negligently fitting the tyres to the vehicle with was the cause of the ensuing accident. While the owner of the vehicle settled his claim with the defendant the Plaintiff pushed on to have the matter heard in the Supreme Court of Vanuatu.

The Defendant admitted that they negligently fitted the tyres to the vehicle and therefore the only consideration before the court was the amount of compensation to be paid to the Plaintiff and if there was any discount to the amount for contributory negligence.

In this case the Plaintiff had entered the vehicle knowing that the driver was under the influence of alcohol. To further compound the issue the Plaintiff was also not wearing their seat belt.

In relation to the seat belt the Plaintiff claimed there was no seat belts fitted to the vehicle. The Court found over whelming evidence to suggest that this was incorrect and that the Plaintiff had an opportunity to put on a seat belt.

In relation to the intoxication, it was found that while the driver had drank alcohol earlier that day there was no evidence to suggest he was intoxicated at the time of the accident.

As a result the Court found that the Plaintiff contributed to their injuries by 20% for not wearing a seat belt.

Having found this the court turned its mind to the quantum of damages which the Plaintiff was owed.  In relation to the Plaintiff’s pain and suffering the court took into consideration the fact that the Plaintiff had lost his spleen. The Court considered the pain of the operation and the loss of conveniences of life both past and future which this loss created. The Court had to make and award that was comparable to other awards in Vanuatu. This effetely mean that such an award would be less the those that would be awarded in Australia for similar injuries.

The Court considered the Plaintiff need for care and assistance which would arise from future hospital visits as a result of the accident as well as medication expenses associated with these visits. 

The Plaintiff was working at the time of the accident. As a results of his injuries he lost significant time off work. The Plaintiff had this repaid to him.

Ultimately after the 20% discount for his contributory negligence the Plaintiff was awarded $23,000.00 Australian for his injuries. It should be noted however that Plaintiff was a Vanuatu local and damages were assessed based on his standard of living. Should you be injured damages would be assessed based on your current circumstances.

Injuries which occur overseas or in other jurisdictions are still compensable. At Gerard Malouf and Partners we have run cases in many pacific island including Vanuatu and Fiji.

If you have been injured overseas and believe that someone else is at fault please contact us for a free consultation.