Prece­dent set af­ter blame­less ac­ci­dent

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - NATHAN EDWARDSS BONELLO As­so­ciate, Turner Free­man

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.

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