I feel compelled to share with you a recent experience, a most unfortunate one, that I had with the NRMA.
I act on behalf of the father and stepmother of a 17 year old boy who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident. NRMA is the CTP insurer for the vehicle responsible for the accident and has, quite properly, admitted “breach of duty of care” on the part of its insured driver. That is, NRMA has admitted that the accident was the fault of its insured driver.
All that remains therefore is an assessment of the damages or compensation to which my clients are entitled.
In support of the claim we have commissioned a medical report on behalf of my clients which establishes, in my view conclusively, that my clients have suffered terribly from an emotional and psychological perspective, in response to the loss of their son.
In response NRMA commission its own medical report which, not surprisingly, found that there was nothing wrong with my clients.
To resolve this dispute my clients have undergone independent medical assessment by a specialist appointed by the State Insurance Regulatory Authority through its medical assessment service. That opinion confirms that my clients have suffered very significantly on an emotional and psychological level such that they are entitled to receive non—economic loss damages. That is damages for their pain and suffering.
Who amongst us would not have expected the parents of a 17 year old who was tragically killed in such circumstances not to have suffered significantly on an emotional and psychological level?
Although the NRMA may have concerns about accepting the opinion of a medical expert
which has been commissioned by me on behalf of my clients, you would think that they would be prepared to accept the determination of an independent medical assessor.
You would be wrong.
NRMA has now challenged the findings of the independent medical assessor. NRMA is contending that the independent medical assessor or is wrong and that by reason of the subject accident my clients have suffered “no injury, loss or damage”
Please let that sink in for a moment.
NRMA has positively asserted that the tragic death of my clients’ 17 year old son constitutes “no loss”.
This is an example of the lack of empathy or sympathy which is often displayed by CTP insurers such as NRMA when dealing with persons who make a claim for injury, loss or damage arising out of a motor vehicle accident of which they are the innocent victim. CTP insurers are more than happy to readily accept the exorbitant premiums they charge on CTP insurance policies but when one has the audacity to make a claim against a CTP policy, the CTP insurer will do all that is available to it, take every forensic and tactical advantage, to diminish the claim.
The example however that I have given above has struck me as perhaps the most egregious display of contempt displayed by a CTP insurer in my 30 years of practice. Never would I have ever contemplated that a CTP insurer was capable of arguing that the tragic loss of a 17 year old son constituted “no loss” for the parents.
No doubt if NRMA had an opportunity to respond it would say that it was making the submission on purely legal grounds. That is, my clients have suffered “no injury, loss or damage” arising from the subject accident as defined under the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999.
However, when it comes to the loss of a child in such tragic circumstances, no legalese or spin can detract from the fact that NRMA, in its clinical and callous approach to the assessment of these claims, is doing all that it can to diminish the compensation to which my clients would otherwise be entitled.
Have they not suffered enough?