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Insurance Helpline | More clarity on GOJ self-insurance

Published:Sunday | December 13, 2015 | 12:00 AM

QUESTION:

Can you please clarify parts of your article: "Dear Attorney General, How Does GOJ Motor Self-Insurance Work?" In it, you suggested that the solution to the man's wife's dilemma lies with the Attorney General's Department. There was no mention of the other party, the driver of the Corona. It was that car that actually struck the man's wife's Nissan, not the Mitsubishi Pajero. Based on my experience, the Nissan should have claimed against the owner/insurer of the Corona. Shouldn't the owner/insurer of that vehicle be claiming against the Attorney General? Was your advice correct?

chrisbenjamin@flowja.com

INSURANCE HELPLINE:

Many thanks for raising some questions about the article that was published on November 22. Readers of this column should know that a copy of the article was sent to the Attorney General's Department for a response.

As I write this, quite by chance, I came across a report from the Jamaica Information Service. It was about government's newly approved communications policy. It said that the rules are built "on the premise that a modern, well-organised, and transparent system of Government communication is necessary to satisfy the diverse information needs of the citizens". It is my hope that information about how government's motor self-insurance scheme operates is not considered to be a state secret.

Motor insurers are required to apply principles of law in determining who is at fault in motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, there are some who mistakenly believe that those rules are not framed for the benefit of the society as a whole, but solely insurers. Add to this the complexity of deciding which party is at fault in a multi-vehicle collision and the widespread ignorance about the many rules and regulations that apply to operating vehicles safely on the public roads, and there are many opportunities for errors and misinformation.

What are the general rules of law that are to be applied in assessing who is to blame in motor vehicle accidents, including multi-vehicle collisions? The website www.injuryclaimcoach.com answers the question this way: "Each driver has a duty of care (responsibility) to the other drivers. That duty of care is to drive reasonably and prudently (carefully) under the circumstances. Not exercising this duty of care is sometimes a wilful or negligent act. When one driver's wilful or negligent act becomes the direct and proximate (legally acceptable) cause of injuries to another driver, the injured driver has a legal right to compensation from the at-fault driver".

ACCIDENTSITE

I know where the collision took place at the intersection of Winchester Road and Ruthven Road. Both roadways have two lanes. Traffic travelling from Winchester Road (not Avenue as stated in the article) and entering Ruthven Road are required to come to a complete stop before proceeding on their journey. Vehicles that are travelling along Ruthven Road from the direction of Half-Way Tree Road have precedence over those vehicles entering Ruthven Road from Winchester Road as well as traffic travelling from the opposite end that wish to make a right turn into Winchester Road.

The Jamaican Driver's Guide would say that the collision occurred at a road junction.

The following rule applies to road junctions, according to its author: "Approach all road junctions with caution ... bring your vehicle to a complete stop at all stop signs ... and proceed only when it is safe to do so."

The information presented to me suggested that the driver of the Pajero entered Ruthven Road when it was unsafe to do so. The accident was therefore caused by that driver's carelessness and not that of the Corona's driver. The injured drivers of the Nissan and the Corona, in my view, have a legal right to get compensation from the Government's self-insurance compensation scheme.

If I were the insurer of the Corona, I would refuse to pay any claim for damages under its owner's policy unless and until it was shown that its driver negligently caused the collision between that vehicle and the Nissan.

ï Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and advice about the management of risks and insurance. For free information or counsel, write to: aegis@flowja.com