$30k out-of-pocket driver warning

Tamra CarrGeraldton Guardian
The Courtney car and caravan after the Australia Day accident.
Camera IconThe Courtney car and caravan after the Australia Day accident. Credit: Supplied

Another motorist has expressed frustration at the difficulty of recovering expenses after a car accident following an Australia Day crash that left a Geraldton family $30,000 out of pocket.

Earlier, The Geraldton Guardian shared former resident Marni Devlin’s exasperating experience with her insurance provider and a car-hire company after her two daughters were hit by an international driver (Insurer to chase at-fault driver, September 25).

The story prompted Geraldton woman Leonie Courtney to come forward with her own story about being hit by a driver travelling in a hire car, just south of Dongara.

“We (my husband and I) were going to Leeman for the weekend, on Australia Day just gone,” Mrs Courtney said. “She was on our side of the road on her GPS ... my husband tried to veer into the other lane to avoid her but she hit us and we rolled.

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“We had to climb out of the car through the windscreen.”

Mrs Courtney said she and her husband suffered minor injuries, while the hire car, her vehicle and her caravan were completely written off.

The hire car was written off in the accident, just south of Dongara.
Camera IconThe hire car was written off in the accident, just south of Dongara. Credit: Supplied

The passenger travelling with the other driver, who had come to WA from Melbourne on the morning of the crash, sustained serious pelvic injuries from the accident. Mrs Courtney said she understood the woman was now a paraplegic.

The at-fault driver was charged with dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm, had her licence suspended for three years and received a 15-month suspended jail term. Mrs Courtney said while her insurance paid out, the money received did not cover the cost of a replacement vehicle or caravan, leaving the married pair about $30,000 out of pocket.

She said the hire car company would not accept responsibility because the woman driving held a valid licence but was not the nominated driver of the vehicle.

“We’ve pretty much lost our lifestyle,” Mrs Courtney said.

“People from other places just don’t understand how different our roads are from the rest of the world — there needs to be more education. Hire car companies also need to take more responsibility for this kind of thing.”

The Geraldton Guardian approached the hire-car company in question, Thrifty, for comment.

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