Mum asked to pay up after son, 12, hit by car

Melony Lowe was asked to pay damages after her son walked in front of a car near the Loloma Dr-Bucklands Beach Rd intersection.  Photo / Sarah Ivey
Melony Lowe was asked to pay damages after her son walked in front of a car near the Loloma Dr-Bucklands Beach Rd intersection. Photo / Sarah Ivey

The mother of a 12-year-old boy hit by a car as he walked home from school is being chased for damages by the driver's insurance company.

The insurance company says it is following standard procedure, and as she is legally responsible for her child, she must pay up.

On April 15 Melony Lowe's son Mike was struck by a car as he walked home from Bucklands Beach School about 3.15pm.

He was pushing his scooter across Loloma Drive when a car came around the corner and collided with him.

While Mike is allowed to scooter home, he has to get off and walk it across any streets. He usually crosses at the top of Loloma Drive but on the day he was hit he was down the road a few metres and crossed from between two cars.

The car did not knock Mike off his feet, but its tyre left a black mark and bruising on his knee.

"My boy also hit his chin on the top of the car and bit his tongue. He was quite shaken up about the whole event," Ms Lowe said.

"When he got home he was in tears. He was actually really distraught. I called the school the next day to let them know what had happened, and then we left it there and didn't do anything else about it."

Several days after the accident Ms Lowe was contacted by NZI Insurance, saying the driver had filed a claim relating to damage caused to his car by Mike's scooter.

She contacted the police, who said that because Mike crossed the road in the wrong place he caused the collision.

"That was fine, I accepted that. And then I got a second letter saying I owed them $1569 as they understood I was liable for the damage.

"I am astounded they are holding me liable. It's absolutely not fair. I can see from a technical standpoint how an insurance company would think this way, but this is crazy. It was an accident involving my son, I wasn't even there.

"My boy made a mistake and it could have killed him. And now this? It's crazy, it's not a good look."

Ms Lowe has not been given a breakdown of damage done or repair costs.

NZI spokesman Craig Dowling said the case was unusual, but the key consideration in the claim against Ms Lowe was fault.

"If the fault was identified as being with the driver in this instance then the driver's insurance would cover the full cost of the incident," he said.

"Where the damage is identified as being the fault of someone else, it is standard practice for an insurer to seek to recover costs from that other person. "It would seem appropriate, as outlined in the initial letter, that if Melony has contents insurance which covers against claims of this nature, then she refers this claim to her insurance company in which case we would sort this out directly with her insurer."

Insurance Council of New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said ultimately parents were responsible for any damage done by their children.

"Cases such as this are relatively uncommon, but recovery of costs from a negligent party is standard insurance practice," he said.

Ms Lowe said she had contacted her own insurer and was waiting for its response.

- NZ Herald

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