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Suncorp told to pay up

INSURANCE giant Suncorp has failed in a legal bid to avoid paying further claims in an ongoing case over a New South Wales boy who lost a leg after being struck by a Wickham Freight Lines truck more than four years ago.

The Supreme Court in Brisbane last Thursday dismissed an application by Suncorp based on what the insurer claimed were conflicting Queensland and NSW insurance laws, with the boy's family intending to continue their action.

Kieren Weston was 10 years old when he was hit by a Wickham's semi-trailer while riding his bike to run family errands on July 22, 2008, in the NSW town of Uralla, south of Armidale.

The court judgment states Kieren was on a footpath next to the New England Hwy when he turned into the "wait area" of a marked pedestrian crossing and was said to have made to cross the highway when he was struck.

His severe injuries resulted in the amputation of his right leg, with Wickham Freight Lines denying a claim by the Weston family their driver was at fault.

Wickham's insurer Suncorp has paid out treatment and other costs to the Weston family since the accident, but launched a court bid to strike out any future claims for ongoing costs.

Justice Applegarth last week rejected an argument by Suncorp that a special NSW law on damages claims for injuries sustained by children in vehicle accidents did not apply to a Queensland-based insurer.

The law states that a driver is "deemed" to be at fault if they are insured at the time a child is injured, irrespective of any actual driver negligence.

Kieren's mother, Peta, yesterday expressed relief at the latest development in the long-running legal saga, telling the Daily News the family intended to press on with a claim for future expenses for Kieren, now 15.

"We just want it to be settled, once and for all," Mrs Weston said.

"Our lives have been on hold since the day of the accident and we can't make any future decisions.

"But at least we are Now one step closer and not five steps further away."

Sports-mad Kieren, who received a prosthetic leg as part of his ordeal, has inspired locals in the tight-knit Uralla community by his courage and determination, pursuing his dream of swimming for Australia at a future Paralympics.

Topics:  court, insurance, suncorp, warwick


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