If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and no one else is at fault, you can still receive compensation for your injuries if the accident comes within the definition of a ‘blameless accident’.
A blameless accident is defined as a motor accident which is not caused by the fault of the owner or driver of a motor vehicle, or the fault of any other person. A claimant injured in a blameless motor accident is entitled to recover damages against the owner or driver of the vehicle involved, subject to any reduction in damages for the claimant’s contributory negligence.
Typically such claims include situations where an animal has crossed a road or a tree has fallen across a road causing an accident. They also include the sudden medical incapacity of a driver for example from a heart attack or black out.
The most well known blameless accident case concerned a 14 year old girl who sustained a brain injury after she alighted from a school bus and darted straight across the road into the path of an oncoming vehicle. The girl’s mother initially brought a third party claim against the driver of the vehicle but it was later established that the driver was not at fault because he had slowed down after seeing the bus and did not have time to brake as the girl darted out in front of his car. In short, there was nothing he could have done to avoid the accident. The girl’s claim was subsequently amended to plead blameless accident.
The main issue in the proceedings was whether the motor accident was the fault of any other person including the girl herself. The Court of Apeal held that although the girl had been reckless in crossing the road in the manner she did, the accident could not be considered to be her fault alone. Her award of compensation was ultimately reduced by 50% for contributory negligence.
This case highlights the need for anyone who is injured in a motor vehicle accident to seek urgent legal advice from a specialised solicitor familiar with recent developments in this area of law.
If you have a question regarding a motor vehicle accident, call Peter Moore on 4324 7699.