Compensation payout denied for hit-and-run victim

A legal loophole means a teenage girl has been denied compensation after she was badly injured in a hit-and-run accident with a motorcyclist.

A motorcycle knocked down the girl who was with friends in Woodvale Park in Belfast in 2003. She was taken to hospital as she amongst other injuries, had a fractured leg. The person responsible fled the scene immediately after the incident and has never been traced.

But a court ruled that although she sustained serious injuries she was not entitled to compensation because the accident occurred in a park and not on a road. The judge said it was an unfortunate consequence of the wording of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, and because of where it happened no claim could be made against the Motor Insurers Bureau also.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr said: “A perfectly innocent victim such as the appellant cannot be compensated for what were extremely serious injuries. It is for government, however, to consider whether this situation requires to be addressed by legislation.”

An appeal to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Agency was also rejected as there was no evidence that the person on the motorcycle knocked her down deliberately. It ruled that compensation would only be awarded if it could be proved that the vehicle had been used as a weapon.

The accident was described as a “buzzing incident” by the police officer who investigated the case. This is when a motorcyclist intentionally drives towards someone to scare them before swerving away at the last moment. This time however, the motorcyclist did more than just scare the victim.

Sir Brian also said: “It is clear that the motorcycle rider deliberately drove at the appellant. It is also clear that the manner in which the motorcycle was driven was outrageously reckless. But with the scheme making clear that any injury sustained must be of a type the perpetrator intended to cause, an attempt merely to alarm cannot be said to be an attempt to inflict an injury.”

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