Posted on 28 Aug. 2017
Jason Hill’s young life was literally pummelled and flipped upside down when a car ploughed into his bike on a suburban Niddrie street more than two decades ago.
And it has taken that long for him to receive the long-term support he needs to look after his young family as he deals with the chronic and worsening pain he feels in his right knee every day as a result of the horrific incident.
Last week, Mr Hill’s lawyers at Slater and Gordon helped him secure a six-figure sum through the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) for ongoing issues he will encounter, including an eventual knee replacement and regular arthroscopic surgeries.
“This is going to help protect us as a family, especially when I have to go in for that knee replacement, which I’ll probably need in about 10 to 15 years,” Mr Hill said. “I’m not someone who complains about much, but in a situation like this, given the serious impact it would have going forward in my life, I needed to ensure that I can look after my wife and kids.”
On that fateful day in May 1995, Mr Hill was riding his bike with a friend when a car hit him from the left as he travelled through the roundabout at the intersection of Ryder St and Hotham Rd.
The then 15-year-old slid up the car’s windshield, onto its roof and then into a telephone pole where he blacked out, before waking up to find his right patella bone broken on top of a list of other minor injuries.
“I remember when the car was just metres away from me, I knew what was going to happen and just braced myself for impact. I think I was out for 15 minutes,” Mr Hill said. “But if I wasn’t wearing my helmet, I probably would have been dead.”
After months of rehabilitation – including initially returning to school in a wheelchair – he realised that he would never have full mobility of the knee.
Over the next few years, the pain and discomfort worsened as the remaining cartilage in his knee was slowly whittled away to almost nothing, leaving him with swelling and pain that left him barely able to walk up and down stairs or bend down to pick up one of his three young children.
“It was about four years ago that I really started to feel the pain and noticed the clicking in the knee – other people actually heard the clicking,” he said. “When I started a new job in 2014, I had to go up and down stairs every day, and every step I took, it felt like a knife was going into my kneecap.
“So I went to the doctor and she said I had the knee of a 65-year-old – I was 35 at the time.”
Mr Hill, 37, who works as a sales manager, said he knew he was never going to be able to pursue a physically demanding profession due to his injuries.
His lawyer Marko Eric from Slater and Gordon said Mr Hill’s claim had actually been denied by the TAC last year, due to the time that had elapsed since the incident. However, when Mr Eric raised the case in the County Court this year, the court granted an extension of time because it believed the circumstances were 'just and reasonable' in this case.
Mr Eric said not all road victims were able to pursue legal claims after such a long period of time, but in cases like Mr Hill’s, there was definitely a case to be answered. He encouraged all those injured in road accidents to seek legal advice as early as possible.
"While out of time applications can be challenging, an injured victim should always seek legal advice before making a final decision about pursuing a claim,” Mr Eric said.