Do You Know Which Act To Lodge Your Claim Under?

Taking our rubbish bins out to the kerb is a mundane job we’ve all had to do many times. You certainly wouldn’t expect to be injured while doing this.

Sadly, when Joshua took his bin to the kerb one day, a garbage truck mechanical arm grabbed him instead of his bin, causing a severe injury.

Joshua wanted to bring a claim for compensation. He decided to bring a claim under a scheme that deals with injuries caused by motor vehicles.

Think this sounds like the right scheme? Think again…

The Facts

It was a Tuesday morning – ‘bin day’ for Joshua’s street. Joshua had wheeled his recycling bin to the edge of the footpath outside his home ready for collection. Joshua saw the garbage truck travelling up the street towards him. The truck would stop next to a bin, and the driver would maneuver the truck's mechanical arm so that it picked up the bin, emptied it into the truck, and put the bin down.

Joshua was still standing next to his wheelie bin when the truck approached him. The truck stopped next to Joshua’s bin, and the driver extended the mechanical arm to pick up the bin.

The mechanical arm curled around the bin but captured Joshua's leg while doing so. The mechanical arm crushed Joshua’s leg against the bin with its firm grip and lifted him off the ground.

Fortunately, the truck driver heard a sound and saw that the mechanical arm trapped Joshua. Unfortunately, Joshua had already suffered a severe injury.

The Claim

Joshua brought a claim for compensation for his injuries.

He brought his claim under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld), which applies to the following scenario:[1]

  • check
    Personal injury has been suffered; AND
  • check
    The personal injury was caused by, through or in connection with a motor vehicle; AND
  • check
    The personal injury was a result of:
  • The driving of the motor vehicle; OR
  • A collision, or action taken to avoid a collision, with the motor vehicle.

Did the Act apply?

To determine whether the Act applied to Joshua, the Court had to decide whether the components of the above scenario had been met.[2]

Personal injury suffered

Joshua had clearly suffered personal injury (his crushed leg).

Caused by a motor vehicle

Joshua’s injuries were clearly caused by, through or in connection with a motor vehicle (the truck). There was no dispute about that.

As a result of driving of the motor vehicle

The Court decided that:

gavel

Judge 

“There is a clear distinction between operating the [mechanical arm] and…driving the truck… The driving of the vehicle had ceased.”           

The Court decided that using the mechanical arm on the truck was not the same thing as driving the truck.

Therefore, this element was not met.

However, Joshua still had a chance if the next element was met…

As a result of a collision with the motor vehicle

The Court decided that:

gavel

Judge 

“In natural and ordinary language, the [incident] would not…be described as a “collision”."

The Court found that Joshua was “picked up” or “collected” by the mechanical arm, which was not the same thing as a collision with the truck.

Therefore, this element was not met.

Joshua's claim was dismissed.

Joshua's situation did not fit the scenario required by the Act to apply. He only met two components of the scenario:

  • check
    Personal injury has been suffered; 
  • check
    The personal injury was caused by, through or in connection with a motor vehicle; 
  • As a result of driving the motor vehicle or a collision with the motor vehicle.

Therefore, the Act did not apply, and Joshua could not continue his claim.

Don't be like Joshua, know what Act to claim under.

Bringing a personal injury claim for compensation can be tricky, as it is not always easy to know where to start.

Things aren’t always as simple as they seem – an accident involving a motor vehicle won’t always fall under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld) (even though it has “motor accident” in its very name!).

This decision came down to specific definitions. The Court carefully thought about how words such as “driving” and “collision” should be interpreted, and ended up using common sense to figure out the meaning of the words.

Sadly, Joshua’s situation did not fall under the Court’s interpretation of the Act’s application. Therefore his claim was dismissed, and he missed out on compensation. 

Joshua could potentially have brought a claim for compensation for his injuries under the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld).

This Act applies to personal injuries that aren’t covered by motor accident legislation or workers’ compensation legislation.

Similar to the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld), the Personal Injuries Proceedings Act 2002 (Qld) has strict time limits for bringing a claim – so it is essential to determine the correct legislation as soon as possible to make sure a claim is brought in time.

If in doubt, ask a legal expert for some advice.


[1] Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld) s 5.

[2] Suncorp Metway Insurance Limited v Sichter and ors [2010] QSC 164.