Negligent and dangerous driving are both strong causes for compensation in a motor vehicle accident case. However, determining damages can become hard when there is no driver at fault. This is what's known as a blameless accident. But are people involved in blameless motor accident cases eligible for compensation in NSW?
Examples of blameless accidents
There are many scenarios where a blameless accident may occur. Some of the most common examples include accidents caused by:
- An unexpected mechanical breakdown, such as brake failure.
- A driver suffering a sudden illness, such as a stroke.
- An unavoidable collision with an animal or object on the road.
Under NSW motor accident legislation, there are provisions in place that allow injured people to claim compensation when involved in blameless accidents.
Blameless accidents in legislation
Up until December 2017, people injured as a result of a blameless accident were covered under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 (NSW). Here, in most cases, drivers could not access compensation if they were the driver of the motor vehicle that caused the accident.
However, in December 2017, the NSW Government introduced the Motor Accidents Injuries Act 2017 (NSW). The legislation establishes a new scheme of compulsory third-party insurance and provision of benefits and support relating to the death of or injury to persons as a consequence of motor accidents.
If there is no person at fault for the accident, individuals can receive statutory benefits for the first six months. These may cover medical treatment, wage loss and funeral expenses. An application for statutory benefits must be made within three months of the accident. Failure to do so may result in a loss of entitlements.
Blameless accident in the courtroom
In a recent blameless accident case brought before the NSW District Court (Brooker v Allianz Australia Insurance Limited), judges had to decide whether the plaintiff was entitled to benefits. When driving along the freeway, the plaintiff's tyre unexpectedly blew out, causing the heavy-duty truck to veer into oncoming traffic. With no control of the vehicle, the plaintiff believed either himself or the other driver would be severely injured or killed. This caused significant psychiatric injury.
After suing the third party insurer of the vehicle under the blameless accident provisions, the plaintiff was awarded damages for the mental harm accrued after witnessing the other driver in such a great deal of peril.
If you're unsure where you stand in terms of blameless accidents, get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Partners. We'll work with you to ensure your claim meets updated provisions to increase chances of success.