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Court rules against Plaintiff rear ended in McDonalds drive-thru for failing to take details of the at fault vehicle

On 22 August 2011 at around 9.45pm, Mr Murray and his wife were waiting at the McDonalds drive-thru at Springwood to order, when the vehicle behind them suddenly rammed into the rear of their vehicle, pushing their vehicle over a speed bump. The impact of the collision was held by the Court to be only minor. Mrs Murray, the Plaintiff's wife, was a passenger in the front seat of the vehicle. Following the collision, she exited the vehicle and inspected the rear for damage. She was at this time approached by the male driver of the unidentified vehicle that caused the collision and, feeling intimidated by him, Mrs Murray returned to her vehicle.

Mr Murray reported the incident over the ordering intercom to an employee of McDonalds and was told to park to the side of the drive-thru for the Manager to see them. Whilst waiting for the manager, they saw the vehicle that had collided with their vehicle leaving the drive-thru. At this time, Mrs Murray, understandably angry over the incident, exited her vehicle and began to berate the driver of the other vehicle for the collision. The vehicle then reversed back in line with the Murray’s vehicle.  A female in the front of the vehicle enquired if the Murrays were alright, to which Mrs Murray replied that they were not, and the vehicle sped off.

The Murrays waited for the Manager of McDonalds to speak to them, but after a few minutes decided to leave the fast food restaurant and drove off. No police report was made at that time.

A few days later, Mr Murray made enquiries with a solicitor about bringing a claim for a neck injury allegedly sustained in the incident. As no details of the vehicle were obtained, the claim was brought against the Nominal Defendant. Investigations were undertaken with McDonalds as to whether there was CCTV footage of the incident, but the video recorder was later found to be non-operational on the evening of the incident. Notice of the incident was lodged with the local police station on 29 August 2011 by Mr Murray's solicitors, and they advertised in the local newspaper for witnesses on 11 and 12 March 2012, with no response.

The Nominal Defendant strenuously defended the claim on the basis that Mr Murray had failed to meet his duty under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 to undertake proper inquiry and search to identify the at-fault vehicle.  The matter proceeded to trial before His Honour Judge Farr in early 2014 in the District Court at Brisbane. The Nominal Defendant's case of failure to undertake proper inquiry and search was submitted to the Court and was accepted by His Honour Judge Farr who dismissed the Plaintiff's claim on such grounds.

In coming to this determination, His Honour Judge Farr took into account that Mr Murray made no effort after the accident to take down the registration number of the unidentified vehicle, in circumstances where he had sufficient time in which to do so, and was aware of the collision and that details of the at-fault vehicle may very well be needed in the future. It was noted by the Judge that Mr Murray did not even get out of his vehicle following the accident. His Honour stated that there was also opportunity for Mr Murray to note the vehicle registration details to his wife who was seated next to him in the vehicle and who could have also taken them down.

In his determinations, His Honour considered the meaning of "proper" inquiry and search, and the significance of the recent amendment to the legislation altering the duty of a Plaintiff in such cases from a duty of due inquiry and search to a duty of ‘proper’ inquiry and search. His Honour considered that the intent of this amendment was to place a higher duty of inquiry and search on Plaintiffs in cases where the at-fault vehicle in a motor vehicle accident is unidentified. Accordingly, His Honour considered that Mr Murray had not met that higher standard of inquiry and search, and he found for the Nominal Defendant, dismissing the Plaintiff's claim.

When making his determination, it is interesting to note that His Honour Judge Farr also took into account the minor nature of the Plaintiff's injuries resulting from the low impact collision.  

To read more about this decision, go to the Court reported case at the following link: Murray v Nominal Defendant.

Have you been injured in a car accident, motorcycle, truck or other motor vehicle accident, or as a cyclist or pedestrian?

If so, then you need to speak to one of our personal injury lawyers. Even if you have suffered what you consider to be only minor injury, it is important you realise that minor injuries now, can turn into real problems later on when it may very well be too late to pursue a claim. You should seek legal advice now to ensure you are not placing yourself and your family at risk in the future.

In some cases, motorists, cyclists or pedestrians think that they may have contributed in some way to the traffic accident occurring and are then hesitant to make a claim for their injuries, but you should be aware that this is not in any way fatal to your claim. You are still entitled to compensation for your injuries for the negligence of the other driver involved, and if there has been some contribution on your part to the accident, then it will only result in a percentage reduction in your damages award.  For more information on this topic, go to our website at the following link: What is Contributory Negligence.

As indicated above, even in the case you did not obtain the details of the at-fault vehicle, you can in such cases potentially bring your claim against the Nominal Defendant. The Personal Injury Lawyers can advise you what steps you need to take to meet your obligations for proper inquiry and search in such case.

The Personal Injury Lawyers have been handling all forms of claims for motor accident victims for more than 30 years. Whether you have been injured in an accident involving a motorcycle, scooter, moped, car, truck, semi-trailer or any other type of motor vehicle, including a bicycle accident or as a pedestrian, we will be able to assist you with your claim.

It is important to remember when seeking legal representation for your case that there are many legal firms who do not have the expertise or experience in Queensland motor accident claims to properly undertake your case to ensure you receive all of the compensation you are entitled to. With 30 years of experience behind us, lawyers trained by Accredited Specialists in motor accident law, and a reputation for taking a strong stand with insurers, we will strive to achieve the best result for your claim possible.

We are a No Win No Fee firm which means that we will pursue your claim without any upfront payment whatsoever, and we will only be entitled to payment of our professional costs and outlays if we achieve compensation for your claim.  To learn more about our No Win No Fee policy in relation to your motor accident injury claim, please click on the following link on our website: NO WIN NO FEE.

The Personal Injury Lawyers, undertake home and hospital visits and can visit you outside normal office hours. We are available to provide expert advice to you 24/7 by phone, Livechat and email enquiries. 

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and you have suffered injury, even minor injury, you should contact The Personal Injury Lawyers as soon as possible to discuss your case on 1300 782 202 or you can submit one of our Case Assessment forms on our website. Your consultation will be at no charge to you, totally confidential and obligation free. Remember, strict time limits apply to motor accident claims in Queensland, so it is important that you take steps to pursue your claim as soon as possible.



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