Safeguarding our children
“Everything happened so fast.
I can’t recall the road, the rain,
The bag, the blood, the splash.
Tell me everything’s fine, tell me that she’s alright.
But she’s not. I see you now, only in pieces.”
Angels in Top Hats – House of Heroes
A week ago, 11 students from Edwin Allen High School in Frankfield, Clarendon, were hurt in a motor vehicle accident. The taxi in which they were travelling was overloaded with students alleged to have been engaged in the practice of ‘lapping up’.
Although transportation on that route is less than what is required, it has highlighted another danger that parents must be concerned about and should be encouraging their children to avoid.
Some parents do not think about accidents as they send their children off to school. The repercussions, though, should one happen and their children suffer serious injuries, bring into focus the issue of finances because they would, of course, be looking to settle claims with the insurance company.
For answers on their chances of successfully making a claim, Family and Religion reached out to insurance consultant and Gleaner columnist Cedric E. Stephens for information.
Stephens said if a vehicle was licensed to carry five passengers and was found to be carrying 10 at the time of an accident, it would definitely have an effect on the claims.
“The Motor Vehicles Insurance (Third-Party Risks) Act says under Section 4 (1) that ‘… it shall not be lawful for any person to use, or to cause or permit any other person to use a motor vehicle on a road, unless there is in force in relation to the user of the vehicle by that person or that other person, as the case may be, such a policy of insurance’.”
In expounding on the instructions, Stephens said the aim is to set up a compensation system in the event of the death or bodily injury and/or property damage to persons for which the owner/driver of the vehicle is legally liable.
“In cases where the number of passengers exceed the number that is permitted by the certificate of registration, the law prevents the insurer from using the breach of that regulation as grounds not to pay a claim under Section 8 (2) (c). If the vehicle was carrying 10 passengers instead of five and all of the passengers filed claims for $1 million, each would be paid $300,000 by the insurer instead of $600,000,” he said.
Stephens also said the act has a minimum limit set, which is $1 million any one person and $3 million all claims for bodily injury; $500,000 any one claim and $1 million all claims for property damage.
“The minister is given power under Sub-Section 5 (6) of the act to increase these limits by negative resolution,” he said.
BE MORE PROACTIVE
Reminding that courts follow well-established rules for pricing personal-injury claims, Stephens said because the limits are so low, accident victims are usually left to “suck salt after a big court ward”.
It is for this reason parents are being urged to be more proactive in how their children are transported to and from school. It is a responsibility they should not ignore. It is a fact that most drivers who cause accidents seldom have the funds or assets to pay the difference between what the court awards and the amounts that insurers pay.
‘Lapping up’ has long been frowned upon, and principal of Edwin Allen, Everton Walters, following the accident, made a plea for a proper transportation system for the students.
Commenting on the accident in Frankfield last week, Stephens described the practice of ‘lapping up’ as like having sex with multiple partners without using a condom and being surprised when HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases are contracted. “Lapping is dangerous. The practice is unsafe because of how drivers normally operate their vehicles, the risks that they take, and seatbelts are not available for all passengers,” are the warning words from him.
With no clear solution in sight on children making it to school without having to resort to taking some of these vehicles, the onus remains on parents to safeguard their children by encouraging them to be mindful of the vehicles they take.