$9000 reparations ordered for pile-up

The victim of a terrible pile-up involving a street-sweeping truck near Rangiora will not get all the reparation she was asking for after her vehicle was written off, a court has decided.

The truck driver, Simone Maree Ross, has been disqualified from driving for six months and ordered to pay $8965 to the two drivers she injured in the crash on Lineside Road on December 8, 2014.

She had been found guilty on two charges of careless driving causing injury at a judge-alone trial in March, and was appearing for sentence before Christchurch District Court Judge Tom Gilbert.

Ross had agreed to pay reparations, but her counsel Pip Hall QC, said he was surprised to see a larger reparation claim from the woman injured in the crash, at the time of the sentencing.

Judge Gilbert said the higher figure had been in a police summary of facts, and in the woman’s victim impact statement, but it had not reached Mr Hall.

Mr Hall said the claim was for the difference between the $12,000 claimed value of the vehicle – a 25-year-old Toyota Hilux – and the $7285 figure that the insurance company had paid out.

He said the figure was “not claimable” because it was not a loss, but 47-year-old Ross offered $2500 “for other matters by way of reparation”.

Judge Gilbert said it was very difficult to accept that the Hilux would have been valued at $12,000. “I simply don’t think that can be so,” he said.

Ross was injured in the crash herself, including head injuries, and had no memory of the accident in which Judge Gilbert found that her truck had run into the back of a car that was stopped to turn right, and shunted it into an on-coming car.

The other drivers received a broken finger, fractured vertebrae, lacerations, and 30 stitches in an operation to remove glass from the arm.

Mr Hall said Ross was an experienced driver of heavy vehicles in Australia and New Zealand. She had always been careful and could not understand how this crash had happened. She had no previous convictions.

An alternative explanation for the crash – presented by an expert at the trial – that the right-turning car may have veered left again when the driver changed her mind, had been rejected by the judge at the trial because he said it was not in line with eye-witness accounts.

He found that the crash arose from Ross’ carelessness, through her inattention or misjudgement.

He disqualified her though it will only prevent her driving on her Australian licence while in New Zealand. She lives and operates a business in Australia but visits family in New Zealand regularly, and uses her Australian licence here.

He ordered her to pay reparations of $1340 to one driver, and $3625 to the other, as well as emotional harm reparation payments totalling $4000.

Both drivers had been very badly affected by the crash. Every facet of the life of the woman involved had been upset by the injuries she received, Judge Gilbert said.



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