A Hills truck driver has been awarded compensation in a recent case for injuries sustained in a “blameless” accident. The truck driver was driving when a tree fell on the cabin of his vehicle, trapping him for two hours. Investigators confirmed that no other vehicles were involved in the accident.
Compensation for motor vehicle accidents is generally restricted to people injured due to the fault of a driver. However, a NSW District Court Judge found in favour of the truck driver even though no other vehicle was involved in the accident. He recovered both damages and costs.
Nearly 10 years ago, the NSW Parliament included a provision for “blameless accidents” in the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999, to broaden the scope of the NSW motor accidents scheme. The insured driver argued he was entitled to damages under these provisions. However, the insurer argued those provisions did not apply to single-vehicle accidents but rather to circumstances where the victim could not establish fault of the other driver or owner.
Judge Norton held that the Plaintiff’s act of driving was no more than a background fact leading to the “mere occasion of the injury” rather than an involuntary act. Her decision may open up the blameless accident provisions to cover drivers in single-vehicle accidents where there is no third party involved.
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