Hit and Run? Pursuing the 'Other' CTP Insurer


Hit and Run? Pursuing the 'Other' CTP Insurer

 

Hit and Run? Pursuing the ‘Other’ CTP Insurer


The impacts of injuries sustained in a road accident can be devastating to a person’s quality of life and ability to work. All road-users run this risk, but needless to say, cyclists and pedestrians are particularly vulnerable. Working on the Sunshine Coast, a heartland for triathlon enthusiasts, we often see the life-changing effects of these accidents on our clients.
 
Fortunately, here in Queensland we have a compulsory third-party (‘CTP’) insurance scheme to assist the victims of road accidents. All vehicles are required to have CTP insurance.  It’s important to know what the scheme covers, should you ever find yourself in a road incident. Insurance policies under this scheme provide cover against legal liability for personal injuries in relation to the use of an insured vehicle.  But what happens when the vehicle at fault is uninsured or can’t be identified?
 
They’re not insured!
 
In circumstances where the at-fault vehicle doesn’t have insurance or you’re unable to ascertain the identity of the driver, a claim can be brought against the Nominal Defendant.
 
This is a statutory body funded by annual contributions we all pay on the registration of each vehicle in Queensland. For the financial year 2014-15, the Nominal Defendant generated $44.8 million in levy income and made claim payments in the amount of $24.38 million.
 
The Nominal Defendant effectively ‘stands in the shoes’ of the unidentified or uninsured vehicle, and is liable to a claimant for any damages for personal injuries that the owner of the vehicle would have been legally liable to pay had the vehicle been insured.
 
Unfortunately, the circumstances in which a claim can be brought against the Nominal Defendant are not uncommon and can include:-
• A pedestrian or cyclist hit by a vehicle;
• A cyclist hit by an open door of a vehicle; or
• A cyclist being forced off the road or into another obstacle by a vehicle.
 
The process in pursuing a claim against the Nominal Defendant is similar as against an identified vehicle insured under a CTP policy. The injured person must still show that the driver who the Nominal Defendant is representing was at fault for the accident.
 
Take note: Strict time limits and conditions apply. Time limits are crucial and delay can seriously prejudice the chances of recovering damages.
 
A document called a Notice of Accident Claim form must be lodged on the Nominal Defendant within three months of the date of the accident. If this time limit is exceeded, a reasonable excuse for delay must be provided.
 
However, if the form is not lodged within nine months, the claim will be statute barred and unable to be pursued. 
 
Proper Inquiry and Search
In pursuing a claim against the Nominal Defendant, you must also establish that the vehicle at fault could not be identified after ‘proper inquiry and search’.
 
This involves a consideration of the evidence and the steps taken by the claimant, including the opportunity he/she had in observing and recording the registration number of the vehicle at fault.
Other necessary steps may include calling for witnesses to the accident in advertisements in the local newspaper, social media and community boards.
 
Case Study
In a recent hit and run case at a McDonald’s drive-thru, the rules around providing appropriate identification were put to the test. The injured party’s claim was rejected after failing to provide enough evidence to show they had tried to identify the at-fault vehicle after it had left the scene of the accident.  The claim failed because the injured party didn’t make any effort to get the other car’s registration number.  Instead, he expected the drive-thru’s CCTV to capture the registration number.  The Court deemed this was not a reasonable excuse for his failure to make any identification.  The injured party should not have assumed the CCTV was either operational or had the technological capacity to detect this kind of information. 
 
Practical Tips
This case highlights the importance of gathering evidence should you ever find yourself in an unfortunate situation such as this.


At the scene of the accident, it is important that you take steps to obtain and record:-

• The registration number and vehicle details of the at-fault vehicle, including colour, make and model;
• The identity of the driver at fault, as well as his/her licence and contact details; and
• Potential witnesses and their contact details.
 
If pen and paper are not available, these details can be recorded on electronic devices, like your mobile phone.
 
The accident should also be reported to the police and legal advice obtained as soon as possible.
 
Maurice Blackburn is the preferred legal supplier for Triathlon Queensland members.  For more information on how Maurice Blackburn can get you back on track, call 1800 810 812 or visit mauriceblackburn.com.au.

 

 

  

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