Today’s article comes in response to a horrible story about a young man who was saved by a mother after he was set on fire because of an alleged road rage incident. The attack occurred on Wardoo St near Southport.
Rightfully so, one of the most common concerns has been for this young man’s health. He was in serious condition when he arrived in Royal Brisbane Hospital. It has been revealed that the man suffered burns to approximately 20% of his body covering predominantly his face, neck, shoulders and back.
With such horrible injuries, it is expected that many people would cry out for justice for this victim. The police have not found the people responsible as of yet. But what happens when they do? Most likely, the people responsible of causing this terrible act will be put to jail. But that seems insufficient for the victim, who will most likely suffer significant medical bills and a requirement for long term care.
What are the potential avenues for compensation that we have on the facts.
Can it be a Southport Motor Vehicle Accident? Most Likely, No.
The kinds of injuries covered under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld) (‘MAIA’) are covered in s5(1), which states that the MAIA:
…applies to personal injury caused by, through or in connection with a motor vehicle if, and only if, the injury—
(a) is a result of—
(i) the driving of the motor vehicle; or
(ii) a collision, or action taken to avoid a collision, with the motor vehicle; or
(iii) the motor vehicle running out of control; or
(iv) a defect in the motor vehicle causing loss of control of the vehicle while it is being driven; and
(b) is caused, wholly or partly, by a wrongful act or omission in respect of the motor vehicle by a person other than the injured person.
We need to look at the facts of the case
Whether an accident is caused ‘by, through or in connection with” is always a question of fact based on the particular circumstances.
“A result of” has been held to mean that “it must be established that the injury was caused by the driving of the motor vehicle” or in one of the ways set out in s5(1)(a) of the MAIA.
Can the victim being ignited by petrol say the attack was a result of a motor vehicle accident?
In the case of Mani v Nominal Defendant  QSC 152, a rock was thrown by at the windscreen of the Plaintiff’s vehicle from an unidentified vehicle driving in the opposite direction. However, the court held that the MAIA was not applicable to his incident because the injury was not a result of the driving of the unidentified motor vehicle but rather, the throwing of the rock.
However, in the case of Coley v Nominal Defendant  QCA 181, a similar incident involving a Molotov cocktail thrown through the window from a vehicle driving alongside the Plaintiff’s vehicle ended up falling within the ambit of the MAIA.
Why? Because in this case, the lawyers for Coley were careful to argue that the manner of driving the unidentified vehicle assisted the Molotov cocktail to be thrown at the Plaintiff.
On the facts for the petrol attack victim, we actually do not know how the incident was caused. However, based on the news reports thus far, it is most likely that the cars were stationary when the attack occurred.
Thus, there is no compensation under the MAIA.
Is There an Intentional Tort of Battery? Maybe, But It Might Not Pay
The petrol victim may possibly claim compensation against his attackers by suing them for battery, which is the intentional, negligent or voluntary causing of non-consensual physical harm.
But it is important to speak with an accredited specialist in personal injury regarding this kind of compensation. Simply speaking, even if you are justified to compensation by the court, it does not mean that the defendant can pay it.
A personal injury lawyer will make a comprehensive search for the following information before making a claim against an attacker:
- Any property that is known to be in the defendant’s name;
- Any property that may be passed as an inheritance in a will;
- Assets that are held in joint names;
- Information regarding the defendant’s past income and current employment;
- Instruction on whether or not the defendant is aware of potential litigation and if he/she may potentially be taking steps to liquidate or move their assets;
- The value of the defendant’s car, boat and other assets other than property; and/or
- Whether or not the conduct of the defendant occurred while he/she was working under the scope of their employment.
On the facts of the petrol victim, we cannot tell if his attackers have assets to pay for a judgment. Thus, he might not receive any compensation for that.
Can A Personal Injury Lawyer Help Him?
Justice should be accessible for everyone. East Coast Injury Lawyers does not stop there to help our clients.
For a victim like the young man burned by petrol, our firm would double check all possible avenues of compensation that he may have such as his superannuation policy and access to benefits such as total and permanent disability (TPD) or income protection.
He may also be eligible for Victims of Crime Assistance. This is a statutory body in Queensland that provides some compensation for people who have been injured and suffered loss from criminal activities. For more information, click here.
Justice is Sometimes Out Of Reach
Sometimes, a person’s legal rights are not given to them right when they need it. This is a problem that many people suffer after they have been victimized by an accident and suffer injury.
Do you want to know your legal rights after an accident? Contact us or give us a call at 1300 720 544 so we can fill you in on the information that you need to know.
 (Technical Products Pty Ltd v SGIO (Qld) (1989) 167 CLR 45; Suncorp Insurance & Finance v Workers Compensation Board of Queensland  1 Qd R 185.
 Sivic v Townsville Trade Waste P/L (1999) 29 MVR 235.