It is a matter of common sense that all vehicles require to be registered and hold CTP third party insurance. We also know that if an individual is involved in an accident, they have a legal duty to stop and take reasonable steps to exchange identification and notify the police, if needed.
So what happens if you’re involved in a hit and run accident and you can’t identify the driver at fault? What happens when an irresponsible driver leaves you seriously injured, but was driving an unregistered/uninsured vehicle?
If you have been injured in these circumstances, you may still be able to make a claim. Under sections 31- 42 of the Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999 (NSW), the Nominal Defendant steps in and acts in place of the uninsured or identified driver.
All NSW CTP insurers contribute to the Nominal Defendant’s Fund, which is a pool of funds to be used when someone makes a claim against the Nominal Defendant. The motivation behind this is to protect and compensate individuals that are seriously injured at the negligence of unidentified drivers who are at fault.
The Nominal Defendant has proven to be quite effective, for instance, in Woods v The Nominal Defendant and Anor  NSWSC 985, Stacks Goudkamp successfully ran a case involving Ms Georgina Woods, who was the victim of a hit and run accident. She suffered serious injuries that will impact her for the rest of her life. Ms Woods was awarded $7.5 million in compensation as part of a claim against the Nominal Defendant in the New South Wales Supreme Court. The vehicle that struck Ms Woods has never been identified.
When an individual makes a claim against the Nominal Defendant, the Motor Accidents Authority will randomly allocate a CTP insurer to your claim. This insurer will be responsible for the day-to-day conduct and ultimately, the final resolution of your claim. However, before making a claim, an injured party must undertake due search and enquiry to find the unidentified driver. This means attempting to contact witnesses through newspaper adverts, speaking to the police and conducting other searches. The Nominal Defendant will then determine that this component has been fulfilled and will accept the claim.
If you have sustained an injury and would like to know more about making a claim against the Nominal Defendant, call us on 1800 25 1800 or make an online enquiry for a free, no obligation consultation.
Written by Vladana Vracar.
Vladana Vracar is a Solicitor in Julie Mahony’s Practice Group. Vladana assists Julie with a variety of compensation claims including CTP claims arising from hit and run accidents.