Have you ever wondered what happens when the accident was blameless? A kangaroo comes into the path of a motor vehicle and collides with it causing serious injury to the driver. So who is to blame?
The Motor Accident Compensation Act 1999 (“MACA’) has accommodated blameless accidents since 1 October 2007. There have been many restrictions surrounding a blameless accident but the case of Melenewycz v Whitfield  NSWSC 1482 has now opened up the possibilities.
Mr Melenewycz was riding a friend’s motorcycle on an outback stretch of dirt road in Queensland at approximately 90kph when a kangaroo hit him causing injury. At first glance no one is to blame and the Act states that blameless provisions do not apply to a driver or a driver involved in a single vehicle accident. However, Mr Melenewycz brought an action against the owner’s insurer pursuant to the blameless accident provisions of the MACA.
The Defendant argued that Section 7E of the MACA excluded all drivers, or at least single vehicle drivers.
His Honour Justice Hamill reviewed the case law and concluded that there was nothing to support that a driver could never rely on the blameless accident provisions. In fact, the mere act of driving was not enough to not award damages. The Court considered the speed and failure to observe the kangaroo and whether this was a causative factor. He concluded that this was not a factor to the cause of the accident.
Mr Melenewycz has successfully won a case against the owner of the motor cycle on the basis that no act or omission of the driver was the cause of the accident and therefore the accident was blameless.
This decision supports the Judgment in Connaughton and has changed the possibilities of what claims may be classified as blameless.