Tourists angry about crushed car

Nico Reiner (left) and Paul Zeller (both 18), from Germany, say they are out of pocket after a tree in a Queenstown Lakes District Council park fell and crushed their car. Photo by Chrstina McDonald.
Nico Reiner (left) and Paul Zeller (both 18), from Germany, say they are out of pocket after a tree in a Queenstown Lakes District Council park fell and crushed their car. Photo by Chrstina McDonald.
Two German visitors whose $1400 car was crushed by a tree which had been growing on a Queenstown Lakes District Council park say they have been given $70 for parts, free towing, and a free bungy jump each.

Paul Zeller (18) and fellow traveller Nico Reiner (18) had third party insurance for their 1994 Toyota but it did not cover them for a 120-year-old Lombardy poplar tree falling and writing off their legally parked vehicle just over week ago.

The tree was growing in St Omer Park but Mr Zeller said a representative from the council told him the council had no responsibility and he should claim on his insurance.

The pair said they were $1700 out of pocket after the incident, as their insurance is now worthless and the car had petrol in it.

''You just feel angry but you don't know who you can be angry at,'' Mr Zeller said.

He said the council had paid for towing of the car, organised a free bungy jump and offered $70 for parts of the car which could be salvaged.

A council spokeswoman confirmed the council had organised bungy tickets but would not confirm any other specific details.

The spokeswoman said the council had received a letter from the car's owner and would be ''responding directly to the parties involved''.

Mr Zeller's concerns in the letter included a plea that the ''proper thing to do is for the QLDC to pay me that amount [$1400] and not procrastinate''.

''Clearly the QLDC have a responsibility to maintain reserves and the plants that grow on them, a simple 'it's not our problem' is both incorrect and somewhat arrogant,'' the letter says.

After staying an extra week in the resort to sort out the car, the pair were due to leave Queenstown at the weekend - after taking up the offer of free bungy jumps.

No-one was harmed when the tree fell but it also damaged another six parked cars, a section of the Lakeside Motel's roof and balcony, and stopped traffic for more than two hours.

Mr Zeller said for two young travellers every cent was watched and the loss of the car, which they had bought two and a-half weeks before the tree incident, meant they would now have to find employment again.

They finished work in Blenheim and had intended to travel for the remainder of their time in New Zealand.

An arborist has determined the fallen tree was affected by white rot and has been assessing the remaining 22 poplar trees.

He is expected to present his results to the council in a report this week.

 

My advice....

It is impossible that QLDC does not have Public Liabiltiy insurance, i.e  third party property damage insurance.  The fact that Mr Zeller only had third party motor insurance is irrelevant.  If he had full insurance, no doubt QLDC would be dealing direct with his Insurers.  The difficulty here is, I assume, that QLDC's excess is far greater than the $1,400 claimed. 

Any person / entity has a legal duty not to cause foreseeable harm to others.  An obvious example of this is the abundance of health and safety legislation in place.  Accordingly, QLDC has a responsibility to ensure its parks, reserves and streets are maintained in order to keep its residents safe and to suggest that it is not QLDC's problem is artifice. 

[Abridged]

Are you serious?

Are you seroius? It's a freak accident, it's what insurance is for, people who don't pay for insurance then cry when there stuff gets damaged are just silly.... It's not as if they lost a 300k Aston Martin......

So if a council tree falls on a parked car...

You get nothing (well not much) if a tree in a council park falls on your legally parked car.  What would happen then if a legally standing pedestrian was killed?  Surely there would be reponsibility then?  What if there had been someone in the car?  I can see why they are upset...I would be ropable.  Well I would be ropable if I wasn't squished in my legally parked car.

What's next?

''You just feel angry but you don't know who you can be angry at,'' - how about being angry at no one?

My advice would to be get over it and make the best of a bad situation. To suggest the council is negligent because a tree fell over is ridiculous - imagine what other faultless accidents land owners would be responsible for if this precedent were set.