What to do if you are injured in a “Hit and Run” motor vehicle accident?
In the usual scenario, when you sustain injuries in a car accident, you can file a claim with the CTP (Compulsory Third Party) Insurance provider of the vehicle responsible for the accident.
However, what if you cannot determine who caused the accident, or the vehicle involved is not registered with a CTP Insurance provider? Insurance coverage, except for very severe injuries covered by the National Injury Insurance Scheme, typically relies on identifying the responsible party and the extent of personal injuries. This can be challenging when:
- “Hit and run”.
- The driver of the at-fault vehicle cannot be identified.
- The vehicle involved is not registered.
In such situations, it may initially appear that there is no CTP insurer for the vehicle at fault, and consequently, no insurer to compensate the injured person.
In any of these circumstances, there exists the possibility of pursuing a claim against the Nominal Defendant, which serves as the CTP Insurance provider when an unidentifiable, unregistered, or uninsured motor vehicle is at fault in an accident.
As part of the insurance system established to provide coverage for individuals injured in road accidents, the Nominal Defendant has been functioning as a statutory entity and operating under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (MAIA) to provide compensation to victims in these specific scenarios.
Nominal Defendant Claim
A Nominal Defendant claim is made directly to the State Insurance Regulatory Authority, who will then allocate you a CTP insurer who will manage your claim and pay you compensation if your claim is successful. This claim should be made within 6 months from the date of the hit and run accident.
However, for individuals over 18 who wish to initiate a claim against the Nominal Defendant for an unidentified vehicle, you must provide written notice to the Nominal Defendant within three months of the incident under the MAIA. Failing to do so without a reasonable excuse will result in the inability to file a personal injury claim against the Nominal Defendant. Additionally, the claim must be formally initiated by submitting a fully compliant Notice of Accident Claim form to the Nominal Defendant within nine months of the accident or the initial appearance of symptoms, with no possibility of extension.
Time is of the essence because without establishing proper inquiry and search, the Nominal Defendant cannot be held liable due to the inability to confirm the unidentified status of the at-fault vehicle. Given these stringent time constraints when filing a claim against the Nominal Defendant for an unidentified vehicle, it is crucial to seek legal advice from Jameson Law to ensure you meet these deadlines.
Proper Inquiry and Search
To establish a claim against the Nominal Defendant for an unidentified vehicle, you must demonstrate that you have undertaken all reasonable efforts to identify the at-fault vehicle, a process referred to as the ‘Proper Inquiry and Search.’ According to Section 31(2) of MAIA, if it is confirmed through affidavit or oral evidence that proper inquiry and search have been conducted but failed to identify the motor vehicle, it is presumed that the vehicle cannot be identified.
What Steps Should I take if I'm Involved in a "Hit and Run" Motor Vehicle Accident?
If you find yourself in a similar situation, even if you do not experience immediate injuries, it is advisable to take the following steps:
- Notify the local police immediately.
- Seek out nearby witnesses.
- Contact nearby residents, businesses, and the local Council to inquire about available CCTV footage.
- Conduct door-to-door inquiries in the vicinity of the accident.
- Distribute flyers and seek witnesses, dash cam footage, or CCTV footage.
- Place advertisements in the local newspaper to locate potential witnesses or footage.
If your claim for the Nominal Defendant is approved, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical, rehabilitation, and hospital costs, which also cover potential future expenses.
- Loss of income or earning potential, including potential future income loss.
- Reparation or replacement of damaged property.
- Expenses related to home modifications and attendant care.
- Compensation for pain, suffering, and the loss of life’s pleasures, provided your whole person impairment exceeds the 10% threshold.
Jameson Law can assist you in such circumstances, ensuring that your claim adheres to the stricter timeframes applicable to these cases and that proper inquiry and search efforts have been undertaken to identify the CTP Insurer of the at-fault vehicle or to establish a claim against the Nominal Defendant.