Sunday, November 09, 2008

Negligent Australian driver gets $2 million from the taxpayer for running off the road

Seatbelt wearing is compulsory in Australia and if he had been wearing it, he would probably have been much less seriously injured -- despite what the judge concluded

A former courier has been awarded a staggering $2.37 million compensation for injuries from a smash in which he was not wearing a seatbelt. A Supreme Court judge in Townsville awarded Steven Nyholt compensation after his car ran off the road in heavy rain when he was dazzled by the high-beam headlights of an oncoming car in 1993. In a written decision, Justice Kerry Cullinane said there was no evidence to suggest Nyholt's injuries would have been any less had he been wearing his Toyota Hi Ace van's "lap-sash" seatbelt.

"The (Nominal Defendant) has not satisfied me that it is more probable than not that had (Nyholt) been wearing a seatbelt, he would have sustained lesser injury," Justice Cullinane said.

Nyholt was left with "incomplete tetraplegia" and is confined to a wheelchair. The court was told Nyholt had collected bundles of The Australian newspaper from Townsville on April 6, 1993, and was delivering them to newsagencies on his trip north along the Bruce Highway towards Cairns. Nyholt made deliveries to Deeral, Fishery Falls, Gordonvale and Edmonton, but at some point did not buckle his seatbelt. "Mr Nyholt had been wearing a lap-sash seatbelt when he arrived at Gordonvale ... (and) undid it to exit the vehicle and did not resume wearing it," Justice Cullinane said. "He was not wearing a seatbelt when the accident occurred."

Nyholt lost control of his vehicle during a torrential downpour when the headlights from an oncoming car blinded him as he tried to negotiate a turn in the road. The ensuing crash saw Nyholt's van roll, throwing him from the vehicle.

In awarding Nyholt $2,375,000 in compensation, Justice Cullinane said he could not understand why the case had taken so long to settle. "The proceedings were instituted in 1995," he said. "No satisfactory explanation emerged as to the extraordinary delay in bringing the matter before the court some 15 and a half years after the relevant events."

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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