A recent ruling clarified compensation for victims of no-fault car accidents

Date: Dec 18, 2019

The Motor Accident Injuries Act 2017 (MAIA 2017) went into effect in New South Wales in 2017. This legislation completely rewrote the previous system, and created a new system that provides statutory benefits to an injured party in a motor vehicle accident no matter who was ruled to be at fault.

However, the MAIA has not undergone a judicial determination until 2019 in the Supreme Court case AAI Limited v. Singh [2019] NSWSC 1300. The case was able to reconcile a distinction between fault in causation of injury and determination of fault. In essence, the case ruled on whether deeming provisions contained in Parts 3 and 5 of the MAIA 2017 produce a different outcome for not-at-fault drivers who sustained non-minor injuries which would entitle them to statutory benefits after 26 weeks.

The facts of the case

The parties in the case included Mr. Guljindar Singh, who is a truck driver, and AAI Limited, the compulsory third-party insurer and plaintiff. Singh was operating a prime mover and its attached trailer. When making a turn at less than 10 kph on a street in Mascot, New South Wales, the prime mover tipped over. The container’s contents had not been properly secured, which caused the vehicle to roll. Singh was not involved in the trailer’s loading, which had been handled by employees of a logistics provider.

Following 26 weeks of paying statutory benefits to Singh, the AAI Limited disputed its liability to continue paying the benefits. Singh disputed this decisions, which initiated an internal review of the case. After AAI upheld this decision, Singh appealed to the Dispute Resolution Service, which issued a certificate stating the accident was not caused by the fault of Singh. AAI appealed the matter to the Supreme Court.

Upon judicial analysis, the court identified an inconsistency between Pts 3 and 5 in the MAIA 2017. Ultimately, the court ruled that since the driver was not at fault, the statutory benefits payable to the driver continue longer than the initial 26 weeks. This finding arises out of the fact that the MAIA only applies for finding fault liability with the accident as opposed to ruling that someone specific is at fault.

In the decision, the Supreme Court noted that Parliament needs to undertake a careful and detailed reconsideration of Pts 3 and 5 of the MAIA to avoid “a spate of litigation generated by the obscurities of these provisions.”

As we can see, car accident cases can be a complex labyrinth of statutes and case law. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, contact Gerald Malouf and Partners today.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.