Road accident victims should not be left to fend for themselves

By YS Chan

 

AROUND 6pm yesterday, a low-loader trailer transporting an excavator along the Middle Ring Road Two (MRR2) near Desa Tun Razak, Kuala Lumpur, crashed heavily into the overhead scaffolding used for constructing the Sungai Besi–Ulu Klang Elevated Expressway.

The collision brought down tons of metal on the busy MRR2. Trapped beneath the rubbles was a van with five people. Two passengers were killed and another two seriously injured. The driver suffered fractures to his left shoulder, swelling of the lungs and internal bleeding.

All four passengers were middle-aged Malaysian women on their way to work at a factory located in Subang Jaya. They were trying to put food on the table for their families but have now lost their lives or livelihoods due to sheer carelessness of drivers and companies.

The trailer was escorted by a pilot vehicle in front and both drivers expected the other to stop if there is insufficient clearance to pass through, and the transport company left the matter to the drivers without conducting a recce trip beforehand.

It is up to the authorities to determine whether there was any negligence by the contractor building the Sungai Besi–Ulu Klang Elevated Expressway. In any case, there had been far too many accidents involving overhead constructions on our roads and highways.

It became a double whammy for the three injured victims and the families of two dead women after the trailer driver was tested positive for methamphetamine. This may free the motor insurance company of the trailer to repudiate cover, as stated in the terms and conditions.

Should the injured and next of kin of those killed are awarded compensation by the court, it may not be paid out by the insurance company but by the driver. And if the driver has no means to pay, the victims and next of kin may get nothing.

Under the law, all motor vehicles must have insurance cover for third-party injuries, but insurance companies include terms and conditions, if breached, render the policy null and void.

These include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol or merely admitting liability.

This law is weak and many unfortunate road accident victims and families experienced not receiving any compensation. Until we switch from liability insurance to no-fault insurance, victims should not be left to fend for themselves.

For example, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) should be proactive and send its officers to check on the welfare of the three injured victims and families of the two deceased.

It could also assist in obtaining legal help to sue for compensation, as none will be paid unless awarded by the court. The suit could be against the trailer driver and company, and possibly include the motor insurance company and contractor of the highway under construction.

Meanwhile, immediate aid should be given to the victims. KPWKM officials must spend more time on the ground than in the office. The Ministry will not be effective if it spends more of its allocation on staff salaries than development projects and assistance to the needy. – Mar 4, 2021

 

YS Chan is Asean Tourism Master Trainer for travel agencies, master trainer for Travel & Tours Enhancement Course and Mesra Malaysia (both programmes under Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture). He is also a tourism and transport industry consultant and writer.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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