A correspondent has sent me a link to a video https://www.facebook.com/1610342069289340/posts/2443313849325487/ and said ‘This is an interesting one… Where do you think the young tradie stands in a situation like this?’

The gist of the matter is that the man the subject of the story was involved in a collision when he turned right in front of responding Queensland ambulance and was involved in a collision.  The ambulance had its warning lights on but there may be some dispute about whether the siren was on.  The young man was driving a vehicle that did not have comprehensive insurance and is concerned that the insurer for the ambulance ‘is not helping’ him.  A passenger in the vehicle has received advice that the CTP (compulsory third party) insurer has accepted liability with respect to his personal injuries.

This is in fact standard for any car accident. If you drive a motor vehicle without comprehensive insurance, you are accepting the risk that your car may be damaged, and you have to wear that cost.  You cannot guarantee that every accident will be due to someone else’s fault, that you will be able to identify that person, that they will be able to pay the damages and that they will do so when you first ask.    Legal Aid Queensland set out what to do if you are in a motor accident and want to claim the costs of damage from another driver – see ‘If you want to make a claim against the other driver’.   That’s the process whether the other car is a private car or an ambulance.

The role of the ambulance insurer is to protect their own interest and that of their insured. They do not represent the other party so the ‘other party’ cannot expect them to help. What the insurance company has to do is decide if their driver is legally at fault. That is complicated in a situation like this by the obligation on other road users to give way to emergency ambulances (Transport Operations (Road Use Management–Road Rules) Regulation 2009 (Qld) rr 78 and 79) and the obligation on the driver of the ambulance to drive with reasonable care.   Courts can apportion liability so there can be much argument, and hence negotiation, on how much responsibility lies with each driver.  If that cannot be negotiated, then a court can decide.

So where does ‘the young tradie stand in a situation like this…’?  Just where he would stand in any accident.  His vehicle was not comprehensively insured so he has to carry the cost unless he can demonstrate that the other driver was negligent.  Demonstrating negligence does not mean convincing channel 9 (who are no doubt only interested because there was video and it was an ambulance) but convincing the other side’s insurer, or a court, that the other driver was at fault.  But they won’t be convinced just because the ‘young tradie’ says so, they will have to speak to their driver and also consider what defences are available to them at law.   We also have no idea what steps have been taken to get quotes and otherwise make a claim.  There’s nothing unique about the video and the story, it just another car accident.  I cannot imagine channel 9 running a story – person has car accident and it takes time to settle claim for property damage – but that’s all this story is saying.

As for the CTP insurer accepting liability, that is irrelevant. It’s another insurer (even if owned by the same parent company) making decisions under other law, in this case the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld).  The decision by the CTP insurer in one case has no bearing on the decision of the comprehensive insurer in the claim for property damage.