Vehicle crash payouts not an easy road, lawyer says

Drivers seeking payouts for damage caused on the region’s roads face a bumpy path to compensation, a south-west lawyer says.

TAC and personal injury expert John Cramp, from Stringer Clark, said he was pursuing a number cases for people seeking compensation after crashes they blame on potholes and poor road surfaces.

“I’ve got cases ready to run now that involve injuries where people have fallen off motorcycles because of the state of the road and that type of thing and it will be interesting to see where we get,” he said.

Mr Cramp said pursuing compensation from VicRoads could be “problematic”, particularly for vehicle damage.

“We get it a lot where people flatten a rim in these potholes and it’s not enough to get beyond their own excess on their own insurance policy and they’ll come and see us and say ‘what can I do?’

“It’s really, really tricky because, for starters, there’s an excess of about $1400, so before they (VicRoads) will pay you anything you’ve got to pay the first $1400. For most vehicles when you flatten a rim it’s not going to cost that.

“There are statutory defences for them in an act called the Road Management Act, which effectively says that as long as they are inspecting the roads at the times specified within their road management plan then they’re not liable.”

Mr Cramp still recommends people seek legal advice.

“They should still talk to us, but the bottom line being unless there’s significant damage to the vehicle, so that it’s going to be above $1400, then it may not be worth it.”

John Cramp.

John Cramp.

Mr Cramp said the number of people seeking compensation was not increasing.

“I think as a community we have got used to being shortchanged on roads, this isn’t a new phenomenon, this has been going on for three or fours years now,” he said.

“The roads have got worse and I think people are driving slower, they’re being more cautious, because they have to be. As a community we’re reacting to the hand that’s been dealt to us really.” 

Mr Cramp’s comments come after Allansford couple Andrew and Annmaree Freeman approached The Standard after their compensation claim with VicRoads was denied.

The Freemans said their $90,000 HSV Grange was badly damaged in a crash that left the family unscathed.