Precedent set after blameless accident
A TRUCK driver who suc- cessfully argued for compensation under the “blameless accidents” provision of compulsory thirdparty insurance has set a major legal precedent for other NSW motorists injured in single-vehicle accidents.
Baulkham Hills truck driver Garry Connaughton was driving a heavy rigid vehicle on Mount Ousley Road, near Wollongong, when a tree fell on the cabin, trapping him for two hours.
A police report found that heavy winds caused a large tree to break away from its root system and fall across the road, where it came to rest across all three lanes.
Investigators confirmed that it had been a singlevehicle accident and nobody else was involved. Mr Connaughton suffered serious injuries, with the falling tree crushing the truck cabin, pinning him inside.
While compensation for motor vehicle accidents is generally restricted to people killed or injured due to the fault of a driver, NSW District Court Judge Sharron Norton found in Mr Connaughton’s favour against Pacific Rail Engineering Pty Ltd.
While the NSW Parliament made changes nearly 10 years ago to add a provision for “blameless accidents” to the act, broadening the scope of the NSW motor accidents scheme, Judge Norton noted that there had been “very few blameless accidents” since that time.
Judge Norton said she accepted the police evidence that Mr Connaughton had not caused the accident, saying it should be categorised as a blameless accident.
Because the driver was not at fault, Judge Norton found he was entitled to receive damages for his injuries, as well as having the defendant pay his legal costs.
Mr Connaughton’s case appears to have set a significant legal precedent for NSW motorists.