More than two years after a disturbing traffic accident, all I have is a name of the offender and a confirmation that cycling in Australia is suicide. A name doesn’t compensate for the incurred losses nor does it cure my shoulder.
In September 2013 I wrote about a hit-and-run accident of which I was the victim. At that time, waiting in vain for nine months seemed like eternity. Today I know that it doesn’t matter how much it takes for a drunk driver to be convicted if the system protects the offender and not the victim. In contrast to Europe where I come from, Australia is ruled by common-law and therefore, the compensation of a victim is not important from a public perspective. At the same time Australia is well protected against private compensation claims as we know them from the USA. A smart and corrupt system of regulations makes the victim to be a loser in all aspects. In my case, I incurred three kinds of losses: i) material damage to my bicycle ii) physical and mental damage to my body iii) financial loss and expenses as a consequence of the accident. None of them will be paid for.
Material damages need to be claimed by bringing the offender to court. I wasn’t able to do that until the offender was finally brought to court and found guilty, which took 28 months to happen, even though different witnesses confirmed the car registration right on the spot at the day of the accident. The problem is that the AUD 1’000.- costs that I incurred to repair my bicycle will in any case be lower than the legal costs necessary to go to court, and hence I have been advised to better forget about it. In addition, I risk not to get any compensation if the offender is incompetent (= unwilling) to pay. Considering the circumstances I would thus most likely only get a ‘debt obligation’.
The situation is clearer in terms or financial losses and expenses occurred as a consequence of the accident. I was brought to hospital and had to cancel a business trip overseas, various hotel bookings etc. I also incurred financial losses due to not being able to work full-time for several months and working as a free-lancer I paid the brunt. All these ‘opportunity costs’ and losses are not relevant in Australia and according to legal advice, I should not even think about it.
Finally, there are the medical expenses. In Victoria, where I was run over, TAC is in charge for ‘compensating’ traffic victims. It does that by setting arbitrary rules that discriminate against foreigners as me. As such, it only covers for medical expenses in Australia and a victim does either need to fly to Australia for long-term treatment (paying for the travel expenses and accommodation) or doing so at home at their own expense . In addition, TAC only compensates for disability in very severe conditions. In cases as in mine (my shoulder was heavily damaged and apart from permanent pain I cannot use my arm in full range) where partial disability is less than 15% loss of functionality, it does not pay anything. Moreover, as the offender has been found guilty, she would need to pay for it, the 15% threshold would increase to 30% and consequently, I could only seek compensation if my arm would have been chopped off as a result of the accident. In addition, the victim would need to be ‘willing’ to pay (see above).
Having that in mind, I ask myself what the name of the person who ran me over is good for. True, in all those sleepless nights that I tossed and turned myself in pain I thought “who is this bitch that let a cyclist lie on the road?” while running home and locking themselves up from the police who in Victoria is apparently not allowed to enter the house of the offender without a warrant even if they find the described car parked in front and with scratches indicating the involvement in the accident. The ‘who’ is answered now but does it matter that the offender is called Lana Marinovic and that at the time of the accident she wasn’t allowed to drive a car due to earlier traffic offenses? Does it matter that her family probably comes from the Balkans where people are known for notorious speeding and where rules over life and death are arbitrary anyway? Was it worth all the efforts that I made to seek justice?
Maybe it was. Apart from waiting over months and constantly reminding people of their duties, I learned a lot. I learned that similar to many other countries, Australia is governed by very arbitrary rules. A victim needs to pay the police to get the name of the person who ran them over. A very bureaucratic system operated by lazy and incompetent human beings causes more pain than a victim has suffered already. If nothing more, at least I learned that justice is a very weak and arbitrary construct. I doubt that we should even use it in a world in which veto rights of a few very sinister individuals decide over the question of whether a mass-murder can be called ‘genocide’ or not.
All in all I believe that I should thus be thankful to Lana Marinovic for drink-driving. She opened my eyes and taught me that justice does not exist in a world that is ruled by incompetent authorities, corrupt institutions and arbitrary rules that protect the interests of a powerful minority while ridiculing victims. Justice is only a theoretical abstract – let’s burry ‘her’ here and go drinking.
 According to information from the police officer, I should contact ‘ Vehicle Accident Information’ for advice. The fee for a collision report is AU$47.70, payable by cheque in Australian dollars. Fortunately, it is a complicated process for a foreigner to apply from outside of Australia and while trying to get a report, I learned from a friendly and competent representative that I can also get information as regards the police report from Freedom of Information for only AU$19.90. A bargain form a victim’s perspective!