A woman has successfully won a public liability claim against a taxi driver after she fell from his moving vehicle and suffered several injuries, including a serious sprain to her left ankle.
The incident occurred after a dispute arose due to an unpaid fare. The plaintiff had attended a housewarming party in Coffs Harbour before booking a taxi to return home in the early hours of July 19 2015.
The woman fell asleep during the journey and awoke to find her fare was $84.75. She only had a $50 note and informed the driver she would either pay him the difference if he returned the following day or hand the money in at the taxi rank.
During the discussion, the woman had opened the back door to help her look inside her bag for more money. She had one foot outside the vehicle on the pavement in preparation to alight.
The driver phoned the police to resolve the situation and told the woman he would be taking her to the police station. According to the woman, she refused because the station was on the other side of Coffs Harbour and she had no way of returning home afterwards.
On attempting to leave the taxi, the plaintiff claimed the driver put his foot down on the accelerator and drove off, causing her to fall from the vehicle and hurt herself.
She alleged the taxi driver then performed a U-turn, drove back to her position, wound down the window and said: "You're an idiot. That's what you get."
The taxi driver passed away before the hearing, although he denied the plaintiff's version of events.
He claimed she had opened the door and jumped out of the taxi when it was already moving in an effort to avoid being driven to the police station.
However, the taxi company later destroyed CCTV footage from inside the vehicle that captured the evening's events.
District Court Judge Phillip Mahony favoured the plaintiff's version of events and ruled the driver was negligent.
While the plaintiff sought damages worth more than $250,000, Judge Mahony instead awarded $42,388 for out-of-pocket expenses, future treatment costs and loss of income.
Would you like to pursue a public liability claim? Contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to learn more about our no-win, no-fee services.