Have you been injured in a motor vehicle accident since 1 December 2017?
If so, your claim is governed by the provisions of the Motor Accident Injuries Act (NSW) 2017.
Being involved in a hit and run accident figures as the worst nightmare for most drivers. In such situations it is understandable to have visons of not being able to claim compensation because the party that caused you to be injured has ‘done a runner’.
Fortunately, this is not the case in NSW where insurers are required to be a part of the Nominal Defendant Fund, meaning a person injured by an unidentified vehicle can make a claim through the fund and not be left without adequate treatment or compensation.
First Things First
There are numerous reasons why another driver may flee the scene of an accident they caused. They could be driving under the influence of drink or drugs, they may be unlicensed, uninsured, or they may simply panic when visualising the likely costs of their act.
In any event, as the injured partner, your first priority is that you ensure the safety of yourself and anyone travelling with you by getting off the road and away from the accident scene. Emergency services and police should be immediately notified.
Once these urgent things have been attended to, it is important to try and collect as much information as possible about the accident scene and the car that hit you. This may involve you or someone with you consulting witnesses to see if they can identify the make, model, colour and any distinctive features of the other car, its licence plate number, a description of the driver and/or passengers in the car, and the direction the car was coming from.
Collect the names and contact details of any witnesses as these may be required later. You should also try to make notes of the street name where the accident occurred, the closest cross street, any nearby landmarks, shops, or parks, the time of the day, weather conditions and direction you were travelling.
Provide all of this information to the police if they arrive at the scene or at a police station within 24 hours of the accident. You will also need to visit a medical practitioner to report any symptom or injuries and have them assessed. Be sure to obtain copies of both the police accident report and your medical report as these will be later needed for insurance claim purposes.
What do I need to do to make a Nominal Defendant claim?
Where the claim and driver that hit you remain unidentified, you can make a Nominal Defendant claim through the State Insurance Regulatory Authority. They will allocate you a CTP Insurer who will manage your claim and pay your compensation if your claim is successful. This claim needs to be made within 28 days from the date of the hit and run accident.
If the claim is successful, you can claim for:
- Medical, rehabilitation and hospital expenses (including any potential future expenses);
- Loss of earnings or earning capacity (including any potential future loss of earning capacity);
- Home modification and attendant care expenses, if seriously injured;
- Pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life;
In order for your claim to be successful, you will need to show that the unidentified vehicle did cause the accident. You must also show you undertook “due search and enquiry” to try and identify the offending vehicle, by methods such as speaking to witnesses, ascertaining whether any CCTV cameras in the area recorded the accident, and liaising with police.
Some of the tasks the insurer will require you to undertake are as follows:
- Posting an advertisement in your local newspaper asking for details of the driver or potential witnesses to your accident.
- Asking local businesses if they have CCTV footage of the accident (if your accident occurred outside a business).
- Attending homes near the scene of the accident to see if they are any witnesses.
- Posting on community social media page(s) asking witnesses to come forward.
After you have undertaken these steps, you will need to provide the insurer with details of the steps you have taken to identify the vehicle, any information you have obtained and copies of any online and/or newspaper advertisements forming part of your enquiries.
The insurer may also require you to provide them with further documentation.
The importance of good advice
As it is clear from the above points, there is quite a lot to do in order to make a successful Nominal Defendant claim, at a time when you may be recovering from injury and/or remain traumatised by the incident itself. In this circumstance, the importance of trustworthy legal advice and guidance is invaluable.
We can gather necessary evidence such as names, registration numbers and insurance details of the vehicles involved, as well as receipt for hospital care, medical treatment and medication.
By managing all stages of your claim within the relevant time frames, we can ensure you obtain the compensation you deserve to ease your pain and suffering,