Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can leave you shaken and stressed. If someone else was involved in the incident and they have left the scene, this can intensify these feelings tenfold, so what do you do if this happens? Here we’ll explain what steps you should be taking if you ever find yourself in this unfortunate scenario.
Why do people flee the scene of an accident?
The reason that people choose to flee the scene of an accident can vary significantly, but some come common ones are the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they held no licence at the time, they shouldn’t have been driving i.e., learner driver, and many leave in fear of the consequences associated with the accident.
Make sure you are ok first
The first thing you should be doing is making sure you are ok. If you are, you can then check to see if anyone else was involved and whether they are injured or not. Call 000 for an ambulance if needed.
The other party has left, what now?
If the other party has left the scene, they are breaking the law. You are legally obliged to exchange details with the other person involved in a road incident. While it may law, it doesn’t mean that everyone does the right thing. If someone has taken off and not given you their details, don’t attempt to go after them. It is now considered an unidentified vehicle. At this point, you should be calling the Police and reporting the incident. It’s essential you pass along any information you remember, such as their number plate, the make and model of the car, the colour of the car and anything else you may think might be relevant or make it easier for them to track the person down. You will need to get an incident number from the Police. The Police have a wide scope of resources and powers to be able to investigate the accident. Take photos of the damage and anything else at the scene you think may support your claim. If there are witnesses, ask if they would mind giving you their details. Contact your insurance company to notify them of the accident. If you have been injured, of course, all of this becomes secondary and getting medical help becomes the priority.
Claiming against the Nominal Defendant
In circumstances where the driver has fled the scene and cannot be found, you can claim against the Nominal Defendant. The Nominal Defendant is a statutory body that is funded through contributions made on Queensland registrations. When the vehicle is uninsured or unidentified, you can claim for any damages or personal injury against the Nominal Defendant. In normal circumstances where the car is identified and insured, the driver would be liable for this. You must provide evidence to show that the vehicle could not be identified despite making the necessary searches and enquiries. Strict time limits apply when making a claim against the Nominal Defendant.
What can I be compensated for when hit by an unidentified vehicle?
When you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident and you have been injured and/or if your vehicle or property has been damaged, you can claim compensation to cover the expenses relating to this. Here are some things you can claim for:
- Medical costs
- Repair/replacement costs of your vehicle or property
- Loss of income now and in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Treatments and medications
- Medical equipment needed to help with your recovery
How much can I claim for?
The monetary amount of compensation you can claim will depend on several factors, including but not limited to:
- The severity of your injuries
- The long-term impacts of your injuries
- How long recovery will take, and the costs associated with that
- The amount of income you have lost or will lose
- Your out-of-pocket expenses relating to transport, medical costs, rehabilitation etc
If you have an injury, it’s important to keep in regular contact with your GP. This paper trail can help to support your claim.
What if the unidentified driver wasn’t at fault, can I still claim through The Nominal Defendant?
To be eligible to claim against the Nominal Defendant, you must be able to prove that the unidentified vehicle was at fault or partially at fault for the accident. You can establish liability by:
- Speaking to witnesses
- Obtaining security vision from businesses nearby, if any,
- Posting public notices encouraging others that witnessed the accident to come forward
- Conversing with the Police
Do I need a lawyer?
When dealing with an unidentified vehicle incident, it is always best to have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side. They can simplify the process by ensuring you meet deadlines, they can communicate on your behalf and cut through the legal jargon to explain the process in a language you can understand. You should seek legal advice as soon as you can as time limits apply.
Have you been injured in an unidentified vehicle accident in South East Queensland? Speak to our expert team of senior personal injury lawyers here at South East Injury Lawyers. We work on a No Win, No Fee basis, so if we don’t win, you don’t pay. Contact us today!