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Generally, when you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident you need to obtain the details of the at-fault party. However, various problems may arise in obtaining these details, for example:
You are unable to identify the at-fault driver.
The at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident without exchanging details (e.g. a ‘hit and run’ accident).
The at-fault vehicle was uninsured and unregistered.
In any of the above situations, the law allows these injured victims to make a claim against the Nominal Defendant. This ensures that all injured victims are able to access benefits and appropriate compensation for their injuries where they are unable to identify the details of the at-fault driver or vehicle.
The Nominal Defendant is a government body who acts as the CTP insurer. In NSW, all insurers are required to contribute to the Nominal Defendant fund
Before an injured person can make a claim against the Nominal Defendant they must show that they have done all that they can to identify the at-fault driver or the uninsured vehicle. This is known as ‘due enquiry and search’ and can include contacting the police, speaking to witnesses or people who live nearby, ascertaining whether any CCTV cameras nearby recorded the accident, placing an advertisement in the newspaper or putting a notice in the media asking for witnesses to the accident.
It is the responsibility of the injured person making the claim to prove that they have undertaken ‘due enquiry and search’ to locate the at-fault driver or uninsured vehicle.
If after undertaking due enquiry and search the injured person is still unable to identify the registration number of the at-fault vehicle, the vehicle is deemed unidentified and a claim can be made against the Nominal Defendant. This form should be lodged as soon as possible and no later than 3 months from the day of the accident. The insurer will then consider whether reasonable ‘due enquiry and search’ was undertaken.
If your claim against the Nominal Defendant is successful, you would be entitled to all the same benefits that any injured person is entitled to when they are involved in a car accident. See “Guide to NSW Motor Vehicle Accident Claims”
You cannot make a claim if the vehicle you were driving was uninsured and the accident was mostly your fault.
You cannot make a claim if you have been charged with, or convicted of a serious driving offence in relation to the motor vehicle accident.
As can be seen from the above, there is quite a lot of work that needs to be done in order to successfully make a claim against the Nominal Defendant. The insurer has a right to deny your claim if they deem that reasonable ‘due enquiry and search’ has not been carried out. These accidents can also be harder to prove, particularly if there were no witnesses or the injured person has no memory of the accident.
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident or you are unable to identify the uninsured vehicle, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer to guide you through the process and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your losses on a “No Win, No Fee” basis. Get in touch with Julia Nguyen for a free initial consultation.