Unfortunately motor vehicle accidents happen too often. Most of the time they are caused by somebody’s negligence or fault. However, what happens if you are injured in a car accident because the driver has a heart attach or seizure? Can you as an innocent victim involved in a motor vehicle accident in NSW claim compensation where nobody is at fault?
The simple answer is “Yes”. The NSW motor accident scheme has evolved over the years to address this issue and has extended compensation to victims where motor vehicle accidents are found to be ‘blameless’.
The NSW scheme was originally a fault based scheme, which has over time been amended to include some limited no fault entitlements.
The Carr Government brought in the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 with the stated aim of reducing the legal costs incurred by victims of motor accidents and the administrative costs of insurers. The intention was to pass on a greater allocation of insurance premiums to victims while reducing CTP insurance for vehicle owners.
The scheme did go some way to achieving that goal. However where the scheme was less successful and where it stood in contrast with the no-fault schemes in Victoria and Tasmania, was in protecting victims involved in accidents in which no one was at fault.
This gaping failure was highlighted in December 2003 by a high profile motor vehicle accident. Two toddlers suffered horrible burns when a car crashed into their childcare centre on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The driver had suffered a seizure and was later found not at fault for the accident. Under the scheme as it was, the driver’s CTP insurer was not liable to pay compensation for the children’s injuries thereby exposing their families to bare the cost of their medical and rehabilitation expenses.
The accident and the subsequent 2005 court case attracted considerable publicity. In response, the government brought in an amendment enacted the following year, which provided some entitlements for children under the age 16 involved in so called no fault accidents.
Later that year the government brought in broader amendments covering victims of any age who are involved in what became known as a ‘blameless accidents’ enshrined in Part 1.2 of the Motor Accident Compensation Act 1999.
This legislation means that people who are injured in ‘blameless’ accidents are generally entitled to compensation from the CTP insurer of the vehicle that caused the accident. However the provisions do not cover all blameless accidents. The limitations of the scheme will be the subject of a further article.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation even if no one was at fault. For a free no obligation assessment of your claim, call our expert personal injury lawyers on 1800 25 1800 or contact us online.
Written by Alexander Morrison.
Alexander Morrison is a Solicitor in Victoria Roy’s Practice Group. Alex has a varied practice including motor vehicle claims and public liability claims that occur both within Australia and overseas.