Legal History




Judie's life was shattered when she received the news that her daughter and son-in-law were killed in a car accident on their way to what was to be a fun and enjoyable holiday in Queensland. From this holiday, three orphans came home. They were Judie's grandsons, Matthew, David and Jackson. The most painful thing that Judie had to face was when she learned that Jackson had sustained a very serious head injury. Jackson, since then, requires 24 hour alert care as prescribed by his medical specialist Dr Dunstan. This care is very costly. In fact, Judie provided most of this care until she sustained a back injury and exhaustion.

Jackson's legal battle had just begun.


During the initial stage of the legal compensation claim, NRMA did not agree to fund Jackson's care, so a Supreme Court order was issued to enforce the payment. As a result, NRMA challenged the Motor Accident Act (Section 45) that obligates the third party insurer to pay these payments for rehabilitation cost. NRMA were in the powerful position to be selective about making any payments that are medically prescribed, which has meant that not all costs for Jackson's 24 hour care, rehabilitation, active observation and equipment have been met.


Monday, 8 December 1997, was a dark day for Judie. It was then that Justice John Dowd announced that the New South Wales Surpreme Court has no power to enforce any third party insurer to pay for 24 hour care. He was instrumental in writing the Motor Accident Act 1987-1988. After hearing the news, Judie was very shocked and collapsed. Her most vivid memory was seeing the look of concern on the face of an Aboriginal lady who was gazing down on her. Judie learned later that this special lady was caring for her 40 year old quadriplegic son.


This story was told by Judie to Mike Munro on A Current Affair TV, Channel Nine. This has set a precedent which enables all third party insurance companies to choose if they want to meet their financial and moral obligations. Mike Munro interviewed with compassion and great understanding Jackson's eminent barrister, Paul Jones, his team leader and registered nurse, Cathy Murphy, Jackson and Judie.






Mike Munro, Film Crew and Jackson
17 December 1997

On Tuesday, 19 May 1998, Judie made an appeal to the High Court of Australia. Justices McHugh and Hayne who expressed great sympathy for Jackson, declined Judie's application. They both stated that no legal action under current legislation could be taken against NRMA, if NRMA did not honour its responsibility of financial and moral obligations under the NSW Motor Accident Act.


Australians needed restorative justice. Every driver and pedestrian in NSW is supposedly protected by Compulsory Third Party Insurance. So those who will sustain a road accident injury or who have already been injured have no legal guarantees of necessary medical and rehabilitation expenses being met as required. The amended NSW Motor Accident Bill was tabled in parliament on Thursday, 15 October 1998, to include attendant care and other important changes. It is hoped that the amended legislation of the NSW Motor Accidents Act will ensure that third party insurers meet their financial obligations to the injured on our roads.


Please press Here to return to Legal History.