What if I didn't get details of the vehicle that caused the accident - does this mean I can't claim for my injuries?
No - you still have a motor accident claim. If you cannot identify the offending motor vehicle that caused the accident, then the claim is against the Nominal Defendant who acts as the CTP insurer in your claim. The Nominal Defendant is a quasi-governmental body formed by Statute and specifically set up for this purpose – to ensure those injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the fault of an unknown party, is duly compensated.
However, there is a duty on a claimant seeking compensation against the Nominal Defendant when details of the vehicle at fault were not obtained, to prove that reasonable efforts have been made by the claimant to identify the vehicle at fault. In most cases where a car accident occurs due to the negligent act or omission of the driver of an unidentified vehicle, the vehicle leaves the scene of the accident and the accident victims do not have time, or are unable due to their injuries or trauma of the accident to take down details of the escaping vehicle.
In such case, there is still a duty on the claimant to make proper inquiry and search to locate the vehicle at fault. This usually involves reporting the incident to the police as soon as possible following the accident, placing advertisements in a newspaper in the area of the accident in an attempt to locate witnesses to the accident, undertaking investigations with local residents and businesses in the area, or locating any CCTV footage in the area that might show evidence of the vehicle at fault. An Affidavit by the claimant advising of the investigations undertaken is then usually sufficient for the Court to accept the claimant's duty has been met.
However, in the recent case of Murray v Nominal Defendant (2014) QDC 144, in the District Court at Brisbane, His Honour Judge Farr, found that the driver of a vehicle who was claiming for minor whiplash injuries sustained in a rear-ender collision whilst the vehicle was in a McDonald's drive through, had not met his duty of care in not attempting to take down details of the vehicle that rear ended him. In that case, the Court held that the Plaintiff had sufficient time, following a minor accident to take down details of the offending vehicle, and even considered that the Plaintiff could have had his wife who was a passenger in the vehicle, record the details of the vehicle at fault before the vehicle left the scene.
This was particularly the case as the offending vehicle did not leave the scene of the accident immediately following the accident and the Plaintiff and his wife, who actually stepped out of the vehicle to inspect the vehicle on one occasion and then to berate the driver at fault for the collision at a later time, were in the vicinity of the at-fault vehicle following the accident for some minutes. The Judge could therefore see no reason why the Plaintiff could not have taken down details of the vehicle or told his wife the details to record. The Judge also noted that the Plaintiff did not even get out of the vehicle following the accident to obtain details of the other vehicle.
When making his determination, His Honour Judge Farr also took into account the minor nature of the Plaintiff's injuries resulting from the low impact collision. On the basis of this reasoning, His Honour Judge Farr dismissed the Plaintiff's damages claim against the Nominal Defendant.
Chat with a Lawyer today as strict time limits apply
Questions? Please contact us, The Personal Injury Lawyers to find out what your rights and entitlements are. You can always call, chat live or email us and we'll contact you. Remember, strict time limits apply to claims for most injury compensation in Queensland.
Get our accredited Lawyers to assess your claim for free. Get in touch today
If you have been injured as a result of any vehicle such as car, bike or boat accident, or whilst at work, on holiday, or in many other situations you believe was caused by someone else's wrongful act or negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Even if you think your actions may have contributed to your injury, you may still have a claim well-worth pursuing. Chat, call, email, or let us assess your claim, just press the button below. There is no cost, and no obligation.