Thank you Lana Marinovic for making me a cripple. An ode to a drink-driver and notorious public law offender.

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 [1]. 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[2]? 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[3]. 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.

[1] TAC Overseas treatment

[2] Baumgartner_51672_decision_letter_and_released_document

[3] 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!

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About blaubear

Born in 1973 in a small village in rural Switzerland and into a society largely dominated by cows (not only was the human population of one-hundred-and-forty outnumbered by them, but politics driven by unreasonable subsidies for diary products) I was connected with nature from early age on. Observing nature on one hand and the deficiencies of a dysfunctional Swiss agricultural policy with farmers that had lost connection to the land that provided their income on the other, I soon started to question society and the meaning of life. Suffering also under a farcical public education I developed curiosity to discover on my own. That was how I soon learned that little of what I had been taught was true. Skepticism and interaction with people from for me new cultures fostered my interest for the world and eagerness to leave a life shaped by federalistic layman-ship. At the age of twenty-three I hit the road for the first time, an event that later translated into passion. Traveling between cultures has since become part of my life. At the age of thirty-three I finally realized my dream and did a degree in Environmental Engineering from which I graduated in 2009, only to leave Switzerland once more for my "real home" Spain. Unfortunately, the stay was a short one: a couple of months later I was offered a job in Southeast Asia, where I worked and also lived (with some interruptions, e.g. I live in Melbourne since late 2012) ever since. Having worked for a Japanese company earlier in my life, I soon felt captured again by Asian culture and thinking which makes a lovely contrast to my European heritage. My journey through different countries and cultures has taught me that regardless of how different our thinking and values are, no matter what approaches we take, we all can learn from each other. And if we are open enough to see the common instead of pointing out the differences, then we have a chance to live in harmony and peace: Life is all about integration, not exclusion! It's an old wisdom that "knowledge is power", as such I never get tired of being around new people, having interesting talks, and reading lots of good books. I hope that my blog can contribute to the conversation.
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2 Responses to Thank you Lana Marinovic for making me a cripple. An ode to a drink-driver and notorious public law offender.

  1. Unhappy driver says:

    Hi Blaubear,

    I’ve recently had an accident with a person called Lana Marinovic on the streets of Melbourne, and thus far she isn’t coming to the table. The accident was her fault so I’m very frustrated about this. I’m wondering if it’s the same person? A repeat offender?
    I’d be interested to hear whether you ended up following her up and what came of it all.

    • blaubear says:

      Hi Unhappy driver
      I’m sorry to hear about your accident. That’s awful and yet, somehow it was predictable given that there is not more will to act against such criminals.
      Yes, I tried to follow up on this lady, particularly because I have an injury that will accompany my entire life. However, I learned that unfortunately Australia’s legal system is there to protect traffic criminals rather than victims. I contacted a law firm and they told me that it’s practically impossible to get any compensation. Given that I’m a Swiss citizen I also involved the Swiss Embassy in this, but there was not much enthusiasm to provide any support (citizens are there to pay taxes not to ask for support).
      Likewise, from the very beginning in the process I had the impression that the police did everything to protect the lady. I believe that if I hadn’t insisted a million times, they would never have charged her….. all in all, I feel that in Australia all you can do is ‘trying not to become a victim’. Sad but true.

      Maybe you can once contact ‘Slater and Gordon‘ law firm and see if they can help you with a better advise (I was given their contact as they do free counseling for such cases).

      In any case I would also go to the police and insist that they do something.

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