Accident leaves champion helpless
SINCLAIR Byrne travelled to Canada for the trip of a lifetime.
He came back with a lifetime injury and has spent the past seven months in a vegetative state in a hospital bed in Brisbane.
Yet on top of the possibility that his mother Jean Byrne might never walk or talk with her son again, Mrs Byrne now faces a long battle to pay for the escalating medical costs of the accident.
A father of two young boys, Mr Byrne has been denied access to his travel insurance and his family is now facing a huge medical bill.
Shine Lawyers solicitor Rebecca Jancauskas has started legal proceedings against Vero Insurance on behalf of Mr Byrne.
“The insurance company is abandoning our client in his darkest hour,” Ms Jancauskas said.
Mr Byrne, from Warwick, paid $611 for a travel insurance policy through Harvey World Travel from Vero Insurance subsidiary Cover More Pty Ltd.
The policy was promoted to him as providing up to $5 million cover if he suffered a disabling injury during the course of his overseas trip to Canada.
Ms Jancauskas said the insurer was now refusing to pay any of the more than $500,000 in medical expenses that have been incurred in saving Mr Byrne’s life and returning him to Brisbane where he remains at Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Mr Byrne, a champion polocrosse player, travelled to Canada in July last year at the request of three polocrosse clubs to help them learn more about the sport.
It was on July 25 that the trip turned into a nightmare.
Mr Byrne was celebrating with a group of friends after playing in a polocrosse tournament when he was thrown from the back of a utility.
He was sitting in the utility’s tray when the vehicle was started and driven off before any of the passengers had a chance to react.
The 34-year-old was thrown from the back of the ute and landed on his head.
Mr Byrne’s mother, Jean, said she was disgusted at the way the insurance company had handled the situation.
“My son can’t feed himself, let alone talk to us or hold his dear little kids,” she said.
“It’s just another thing to deal with. It’s hard enough knowing I’ve got a son who is lying in that hospital bed.
“We’re now facing a life of uncertainty.”
Ms Jancauskas said the insurer had rejected her client’s claim on the basis that he contributed to the accident by consuming alcohol.
“But there is nothing he or any of the other passengers for that matter could have done to get out of that car,” she said.
“Every month, thousands of young Australians travel abroad to holiday, surf, mountain climb, ski and just enjoy life.
“Vero’s decision throws into doubt people’s expectation they’ll be covered.”
Cover More Pty Ltd declined to comment when contacted by The Chronicle yesterday.