Motor Vehicle Accident Case Study

PUBLISHED 02 Feb 2011
A look at how motor vehicle accident compensation is calculated by the Court
The recent decision of the New South Wales District Court in Saleh v The Nominal Defendant is a good illustration of how a Court will calculate monetary compensation for victims of a motor vehicle accident.
The written judgment in the proceedings was extensive, due to the refusal of the insurance company representing the Nominal Defendant to accept, that an unidentified motor vehicle caused the accident. The insurance company maintained that the victim of the accident had been speeding and driving negligently and that this was the cause of the accident!
The Court rejected the arguments of the insurance company and found that the victim of the motor vehicle accident, had been travelling within the speed limit in the middle lane of three southbound lanes when an unidentified vehicle appeared in the lane immediately to his right and without indication or warning, crossed the victim’s path of travel, causing a minor impact between the two vehicles. The victim than applied the footbrake and handbrake and swerved to the left to avoid a serious rear-end collision with the unidentified vehicle. As a result of this action the victim’s car skidded and spun out of control hitting a power pole and then a nearby fence.
The victim suffered multiple, physical injuries, as a result of the accident including a serious head injury with resultant traumatic brain damage.
Despite the vigorous arguments of the insurance company the Court held that:
(a)   The Plaintiff was injured as a consequence of the negligence of the driver of an unidentified motor vehicle;
(b) There was no contributory negligence on the part of the Plaintiff; and
(c)   Due search and inquiry has failed to identify the owner and driver of the unidentified motor vehicle.
The compensation awarded to the victim was broken down into the following components:
(a) Non-economic loss
(b) Past loss of earning capacity
(c) Future loss of earning capacity
(d) Past loss of superannuation
(e) Future loss of superannuation
(f) Past domestic care services
(g) Future domestic care services
(h) Future medical treatment
(i) Future paramedical treatment
(j) Future pharmaceutical costs
(k) Future transportation costs
(l) Past out-of-pocket expenses
(m) Funds management charges
(To be assessed)
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