Road users in NSW are eligible for motor accident compensation if they are involved in crashes where they are not to blame or only partly at fault. Drivers who are fully to blame for incidents are more likely to have their claim rejected.
This was the issue at the heart of a recent case heard at NSW District Court, with the plaintiff seeking damages for an accident in which he drove into another vehicle that was reversing out of a driveway.
The man, who was permanently disabled due to a fall at his workplace, was driving round a bend in the road and collided with the defendant's vehicle. However, the facts of the case were disputed, with the plaintiff's evidence challenged a number of times.
Whose fault was the accident?
The man claimed in court that the accident happened very quickly and he was unable to brake fast enough to avoid the crash. He described the incident as "very sudden" and said he was unable to turn right in time to prevent the collision.
However, this evidence contradicted a statement the plaintiff provided to the police in the days after the accident. Originally, he claimed he had seen the defendant's vehicle reversing and had slowed down in an effort to manoeuvre around it.
Furthermore, the claimant argued in court he had not seen the other car until he was one or two houses away from it, but in his statement to police he said four to five houses.
The plaintiff is originally from Turkey, and his lawyers claimed his grasp of English was to blame for misunderstandings in his conversation with the police.
Making a decision for motor vehicle compensation
Due to the plaintiff's permanent disability, he was not eligible for past and future income and superannuation losses due to the accident. Instead, he sought compensation for care and treatment costs totalling more than $300,000.
District Court Judge Judith Gibson rejected the plaintiff's claim on the basis that she did not believe liability fell on the defendant.
She questioned the plaintiff's evidence, adding that the most likely scenario was the man had tried to get past the stationary vehicle, misjudging the distance and causing the accident.
This case highlights the importance of understanding liability legislation when deciding whether or not to pursue a claim.
If you would like to discuss a car accident in which you have been involved, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.