A pedestrian in Dunedin who was injured by a utility vehicle while crossing a street was told by the driver’s insurer that she was on the hook for the ute’s repair bill.
The pedestrian, a 20-year-old Dunedin student named Portia Jackson, told stuff.co.nz that she was hit from behind by the vehicle in May as she stepped off the kerb to cross the street. Among other injuries, she fractured her pelvis in four places.
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“I woke up in the ambulance and I remember someone tried to talk to me about what happened, but I was out of it,” Jackson told stuff.co.nz. She ended up spending five days in the hospital and had to undergo several months of physiotherapy following the incident.
But because Jackson told police that she only looked one way before crossing – and not both ways – the driver’s insurer, IAG, said that she was liable to repair the damage to the vehicle. In June, the insurer sent her the bill – a whopping $2,600.
“I don’t know where they got this,” Jackson told stuff.co.nz. “I barely remember talking to the police at all. I know they came to the hospital I think the day after the accident, but I don’t recall a lot of that week.”
Meanwhile, Jackson’s mother, Julie Wilson, said the incident was an accident, and her daughter should not be held liable for damages to the vehicle.
“It is not like she stepped in front of a car on purpose,” Wilson told stuff.co.nz. “It was an accident, and these things happen. Should everyone in New Zealand not be leaving their house without individual liability insurance?”
After Jackson disputed the bill, the case was referred to the Disputes Tribunal, which had scheduled a hearing on 20 January. However, IAG told Jackson this week that it was dropping the case and withdrawing from the tribunal after being contacted by the media for comment – although the insurer still maintained that Jackson was liable for the incident.
An IAG spokesperson told stuff.co.nz that it was unable to comment about the case.