Car running a red light in Randwick causes virtual head on collision with limousine driver

Published 05 Jul 2017

In the early hours of the day, Mr RM was driving his hire car through Randwick, returning home. As he approached an intersection, the lights changed to a green arrow. As he proceeded to turn right a car travelling in the opposite direction ran the red light. The two vehicle struck each other in a virtual head on collision. The vehicles were both written off.

Mr RM was fortunate that his vehicle had airbags. Police arrived at the scene, and the offending driver initially started to accuse RM to be the person at fault. It was fortunate that his car had a dash camera, and witnesses to the incident remained. The police were able to get to the truth of the incident. If it was not for the dash camera, liability could have been a real “he said, she said” situation.

RM was fortunate in that despite suffering from some initial whiplash symptoms, he was able to recover well. Apart from a few early days of rest, he was able to bounce back quickly and return to driving on a full time basis. This however was not without difficulties. As a hire car driver he had to lift heavy luggage from time to time, and sit and drive for long periods. There was also little time for him to receive treatment. In all, his treatment was conservative. His injuries were not so serious to entitle him to damages for his injuries and pain and suffering, or domestic assistance and care. Apart from a brief period, there was also little by way of economic loss. Based on these instructions RM’s loss would be virtually nil, and under that changes in the motor accidents legislation would be captured as such, a minor claim.

There was however indication that this accident had caused him anxiety and depression. The treatment was consistent for a period of 6 months, and there once every three months. The assertion made was that RM had now suffered a psychological condition that leaves him fearful and anxious in certain traffic conditions, which is very difficult for a hire car driver. Further, it was a real possibility that his ability to remain a professional driver would be compromised. Despite our advice to adopt a wait and see position as to whether he would cease his work as a professional driver, RM’s instructions were to resolve his claim as soon as possible.

In accordance with RM’s instructions we drew submissions showing RM’s future potential loss, and the risk to the insurer. The submissions show the ingenuity and experience of Gerard Malouf and Partners. RM received $31,400 in settlement, where $1,400 would be paid back to Medicare. The balance of the settlement monies were derived through a series of buffers and submissions.