The unfortunate case of Warrick Proudlove has highlighted the dangers of driving on Western Australia’s rural roads at night. More importantly, it has highlighted the significant financial burden that is placed on families when a family member suffers a catastrophic injury in a motor vehicle accident that falls outside WA’s Third Party Insurance Scheme.
In July 2011, Mr Proudlove suffered catastrophic injuries when the car he was a passenger of struck a horse near Mt Barker. Mr Proudlove has already received significant medical and rehabilitation treatment, and will require this treatment for the remainder of his life. As his family are unable to meet the costs of his treatment, they have attempted to sue the driver of the vehicle in negligence.
The trial judge found that the driver failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to brake, slow down or stop in response to the presence of the horse on the road. Notwithstanding this, the collision with the horse was found to be inevitable and unavoidable.
So what happens in these situations?
Presently, there is no safety net for families who are stuck in this position.
This case has thrown calls for a no fault third party insurance scheme for catastrophic injury claims into the spotlight. Interestingly, Queensland and Western Australia are the only states who do not have a no fault third party scheme.
The Insurance Commission of Western Australia appears to support the idea of a no fault third party insurance scheme in principle, and filed a green paper discussing the issue earlier this year.
For the scheme to be enacted, WA drivers would be required to pay an additional $109 per year for their car registration.
Would you be prepared to pay the additional amount to assist families stuck in this position?