Truck drivers call on transport accident commission to review law for pedestrian deaths

A Portland truck driver who is barred from accessing compensation for his trauma after witnessing a tragic pedestrian death is calling for a law change to close the loophole.

Ian Medley was driving his truck near Ballarat at night in 2014 when he hit a person who was deliberately standing on the road.

“I was driving along, paying attention,” he said.

“A truck ahead of me suddenly had to take evasive action to avoid a person.”

He said the person was knocked over.

“There was nothing I could do to avoid them,” he said. 

“Their life was over and pretty much so was mine due to what I saw.”

Long-term suffering

Mr Medley suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has been unable to return to work.

His regular day-to-day life activities no longer bring him the joy he experienced before the crash.

He can access limited compensation under the Transport Accident Commission no fault scheme, but has been unable to seek damages for his pain and suffering.

This is due to a loophole where there is no insurer to claim against on the behalf of the pedestrian.

Lawyer Tom Burgoyne, a director at Fortitude Legal, wants the legislation changed to allow the commission to act as a nominal defendant for damage and pay the claim.

The commission currently acts as a nominal defendant for damages in other incidents where there is no insurer to claim against, such as when an unregistered motorist deliberately drives into a truck.

Mr Burgoyne is also acting for Leopold truck driver Kevin Reggardo, whose life was changed when a person walked into the path of his truck in Geelong in 2018.

A portrait photo of a man wearing a blue suit
Tom Burgoyne is advocating for legislation change.(Supplied: Tom Burgoyne )

“What I experienced and saw has never left me and is something no-one is meant to see.”

Plea for help 

Mr Burgoyne said Mr Reggardo and Mr Medley were “forgotten, injured Victorian workers”.

“Hard-working people are being left high and dry in situations that are not their fault,” Mr Medley said.

“It’s forced my family into financial struggle.

Mr Reggardo said compensation would not change what had happened, but it would be recognition.

“It’s been extremely hard to survive on reduced weekly payments,” he said.

An older man with a large handlebar moustache, wearing a checked shirt and a cap.
Kevin Reggardo says his life was shattered after a person walked into the path of his truck.(Supplied)

Mr Reggardo said his partner had to work extra shifts for them to survive. 

“Basically we have been thrown on the scrap heap by the system,” he said.

Mr Burgoyne previously represented injured cyclist Rory Wilson in a case that led to legislative change known as Rory’s Law.

Mr Wilson became paraplegic after hitting a parked car on his bicycle, but was not covered by the Transport Accident Commission scheme.

“With a huge groundswell of support from the community … we were able to correct that anomaly … which meant him and other cyclists in that situation are covered,” Mr Burgoyne said.

Mr Burgoyne said he would present his proposal for the new heavy vehicle driver legislation change to the relevant state government minister.

The proposal suggests the commission step in as the nominal defendant if heavy vehicle drivers are found blameless in the incident and the pedestrian deliberately moves into their path.

Mr Burgoyne said in no way did he want to place blame on people with mental health concerns, but was focused on the law.

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