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‘In Fear For My Life’: Road Rage Victim Shares His Story


LEFT for dead on the side of a road, Kingscliff father, Joel Harry, suffered lifelong injuries after he was the victim of a road rage attack on the Gold Coast in 2016.

The air conditioning apprentice was successfully represented by Attwood Marshall Lawyers in a No Win, No Fee, claim against his attacker’s insurer, to cover ongoing medical expenses and loss of income.

Mr Harry is one of many road rage victims Attwood Marshall Lawyers have represented in recent years, with the number and severity of road rage cases on the rise within the firm’s large Personal Injuries department.

This week, clients, Ken Umstad and Bruce Pinkerton, bravely shared their stories (below) to highlight the devastating effects of road rage.

The men lost their ability to work, pay the mortgage, suffered broken bones and psychiatric injuries, caused by the unique fear road rage assaults incite.

Queensland police statistics have shown a 13 percent increase in the “dangerous operation of a motor vehicle” offence, with more than 2,000 people charged last year.

But Mr Umstad’s attacker has never been identified, let alone arrested, for mowing down the father-of-three as he sat stationary on a motorbike at an intersection in Upper Coomera in 2017.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers’ Personal Injury team has seen a spike in road rage cases, settling claims for 50 clients over the past five years, when in the five years prior only two cases were on the books.

In Mr Harry’s case, the father-of-one was driving his work ute on Southport-Nerang Rd in Molendinar to pick up work supplies on April 28, 2016, at about 2.30pm, when he was the victim of road rage.

Mr Harry said he saw a Skyline station wagon being driven erratically and at excessive speed before the car suddenly veered across the front of his vehicle, forcing him to swerve to avoid a collision.

The Skyline driver swerved at Mr Harry another two times, before menacingly braking his vehicle, in front of Mr Harry’s work ute.

Both drivers pulled to the side of the road at Molendinar, where Mr Harry exited his vehicle and walked between the two stationary vehicles.

The Skyline driver reversed his car, and drove straight over Mr Harry, sending him flying 25 metres from where he was hit.

Mr Harry said from the start of the ordeal he was in shock and ‘feared for his life’.

The Skyline driver fled the scene, leaving Mr Harry for dead on the side of the road – unconscious and suffering significant injuries, which later required surgery.

Vague on what happened due to concussion, it was CCTV footage captured from a vehicle nearby the incident which ultimately revealed the seriousness of the attack and that Mr Harry was lucky to be alive.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers helped Mr Harry to obtain medical treatment and acted on his behalf with respect to a successful CTP compensation claim for his injuries and losses, on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers helped Mr Harry to recover and to move on from what was a devastating and traumatic experience for his entire family.


The Law

As a general rule of thumb, motor vehicle drivers owe a very high duty of care to a pedestrian no matter what the circumstances are.

The reasoning behind this is that a motorist, with his or her vehicle, is potentially operating a lethal weapon, if that vehicle comes into contact with unprotected pedestrians.

There are exceptions to the rule:

a) It is a complete defence against any claim by a pedestrian if it is found there was a ‘voluntary assumption of risk’.  For example, if the driver of the car was merely attempting to get away from the pedestrian and the pedestrian threw himself onto the bonnet of the car or attempted to deliberately stand in front of the car to stop it so that they could assault the driver, it would be difficult for the injured pedestrian to lodge a claim for damages in negligence against the driver.

Voluntary assumption of risk under the Civil Liability Act 2003 is a complete defence to any claim made.

b) A reduction in liability for ‘contributory negligence’.

Contributory negligence is a much lesser qualification and is not a complete defence. Normally an injured person’s claim is only reduced by the percentage that they are found to be responsible for the accident happening.

The most common claim Attwood Marshall Lawyers receive is where the driver of one of the vehicles involved in the road rage incident collides with the other car, causing damage and injury to its occupants or alternatively, where a pedestrian is run over by a car after getting out of their car at the scene.

Each accident rests on its own facts and there is no hard and fast rule that applies to all circumstances.


Time Limitations

Anyone involved in a road rage incident should obtain legal advice if they are injured or suffer a psychological condition.

There are strict time limits associated with claims being made under the compulsory third party provisions.

Claims made after the 3 year anniversary of the accident date will usually be statute-barred (unless you were underage at the time or there are exceptional circumstances).

In QLD, if the defendant vehicle is unregistered, or unable to be properly identified, the claim must be made against the Nominal Defendant within 3 months of the date of the accident – and if the claim form is not lodged within 9 months of the accident, it will be statute-barred completely. This date is final and cannot be extended.

In NSW, claim forms must be lodged within 6 months of the accident (if the date of accident predates 1 December 2017) or within 3 months (if the date of accident is 1 December 2017 or later).

These claims may still be lodged after those time frames (within 3 years of the accident) if there is a full and satisfactory reason for the delay.

As with all personal injury claims, we strongly recommend obtaining legal advice about your rights to claim as soon as possible as there are strict time limits that may be fatal to your entitlements to claim compensation.

Do you need help with a compensation claim?

If you have a workers’ compensation claim, please contact Compensation Law Department on 1800 621 071 for a free initial consultation and discuss our ‘No Win, No Fee’ service.

We have a dedicated team of lawyers who specialise in this area of law and practice exclusively in personal injury claims.

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Jeremy Roche - Partner - Compensation Law

Jeremy Roche

Compensation Law

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The contents of this article are considered accurate as at the date of publication. The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and is of a general nature only. Readers should seek legal advice about their specific circumstances. 

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