The scene of a double fatality near Huts Creek on the Bruce Highway.Photo Ebony Battersby / The Observer
The scene of a double fatality near Huts Creek on the Bruce Highway.Photo Ebony Battersby / The Observer

Chinese cultural law sparks dependency lawsuit

A DEPENDENCY lawsuit for more than $1.3 million has been filed based on a Chinese cultural law, following a Central Queensland fatal crash five years ago.

It is claimed a son who was killed in a crash near Mt Larcom was to support his parents financially and repay the money his parents paid on his education.

Man Tat Sze was killed in a traffic accident on December 6, 2014, and now his parents, Kin Kwok Sze and Yin Ling Wong are suing the truck driver involved and his insurer, Suncorp Insurance.

The traffic incident in question occurred on the Bruce Hwy, about five kilometres north of Mount Larcom around 2.45am.

The deceased was travelling northbound on the highway when one of the steel pipes detached from a passing semi-trailer and rolled onto the road, colliding with the front of the deceased's vehicle, causing him fatal injuries.

The 1.88 tonne steel pipe fell from the back of the truck, smashing into the car which then burst into flames.

The truck driver faced a two-day trial at Rockhampton District Court in 2017 and was found not guilty by the jury.

It was heard at the court, the truck driver was not allowed to inspect the trailer due to a safety policy at the site where it was loaded.

Xinzi Chi, who the deceased was also in a de facto relationship with, was also in the vehicle and was killed.

A dependency claim filed in the Rockhampton Supreme Court on December 20 by Robert Bax and Solicitors details there was a "duty imposed by the Chinese culture and enshrined in Article 49 of the Constitution of People's Republic of China".

It is claimed, due to the cultural law, the deceased was to "support and assist his parents both financially and domestically and repay amounts outlaid by his parents on his education".

The court documents further detail by the death of the deceased, his parents have lost the reasonable expectation of the repayment of moneys spent on his education, future financial support upon their retirement and future provision of services to the activities of daily living.

The court documents list the school costs with estimated fees for grades 10, 11 and 12 at Knox Grammar in Sydney of $124,540.

The deceased had begun an undergraduate degree in commerce and economics at the University of New South Wales and had completed two weeks of the degree with tuition fees claimed at $67,110.

The parents paid for the residents' living fees while he was studying in Australia in the amount of $145,580.

There is further claim for future loss of dependency for the parents at $700 per week from their retirement age until their life expectancy, totalling $340,281.

It is alleged both parents suffered severe nervous shock and upset when they found out about the circumstances of their son's death and it caused them to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder and a major depressive disorder.

It is claimed the parents have required and continue to require significant treatment including hospitalisation.

They have both allegedly suffered ongoing impairment with self-care and personal hygiene, social and recreational activities, social functioning, concentration, ability to focus and have been unable to return to any form of gainful employment.

The father was self-employed as a solicitor and was an equity partner in two law firms.

The father suffers a 19 per cent whole person impairment in relation to his psychiatric condition.

The mother was an involved shareholder of a Hong Kong restaurant, was an agent of a real estate investment company and was an artist painting and selling traditional Chinese paintings and jewellery.

The mother suffers a 22 per cent whole person impairment in relation to her psychiatric condition.

Various amounts of past and future loss of incomes are claimed in Yuan currency.

For general damages for the father, $48,950 is claimed and the mother has claimed $95,200.

It is claimed the parents have needed the help of domestic services in the home and will in the future as a result of their conditions at the cost of $145,835.

Funeral and related expenses for the deceased are also claimed, with a cost of $46,575.52 presented in the court documents.

In total, the father is claiming $869,921.52 for the dependency claim and $70,950 in AUD currency and ¥14,231,365 ($200,022.31AUD).

In total, the mother is claiming $117,200 for personal injury and a further ¥4,050,559 ($56,944.90 AUD).

Suncorp Insurance filed a defence on February 11, denying various paragraphs in the court claim.

The defence denies the statement related to claims of breaches of duty.

A reply to this was filed on February 25, arguing and disagreeing with some of the defence claims.

Suncorp Insurance filed an offer to settle on February 11.