Uninsured or Unidentified Motor Vehciles: You Still have a claim

Published 15 Jul 2011
In New South Wales all motor vehicles, are required to have compulsory Third Party Insurance.
 
Vehicles cannot be registered without proving such insurance is valid as at the date of registration. However, in some circumstances it may be that a vehicle is on the road without registration and thus without insurance. Setting aside issues relating to criminal matters, the question is, whether a person that is injured by such a vehicle is still covered by the New South Wales CTP regime.
 
Another question that may be raised is where somebody struck by a vehicle, where that vehicle is unidentified on account of circumstances such as a “hit and run”, the question again, is whether injuries resulting out of such an incident are again covered by the New South Wales CTP Scheme.
 
In both these instances, the answer is yes. The New South Wales Motor Accidents Compensation Act 1999, Sections 31-41 accommodates for such circumstances.
 
Where a vehicle is uninsured, or unidentified, the legislation has provided for the Nominal Defendant, the Motor Accidents Authority, to be substituted in the place of the uninsured and/or unidentified or unregistered vehicle.
 
All New South Wales CTP Insurers are required to be a part of this regime and contribute to the Nominal Defendant’s Fund, thus ensuring that persons injured in such events do not go without adequate treatment or compensation.
 
Such a regime, is not entered into automatically. The injured party must prove that the vehicle that caused the accident and injury was either unregistered or unidentified.
 
In the circumstances of an unregistered vehicle, provided that the you have the licence plate details, is easily identified as unregistered by making contact with the New South Wales Police and/or New South Wales Claims Advisory service on 1300 656 919.
 
Should these investigations achieve negative results, in that the vehicle is unregistered, the completed New South Wales Personal Injury Claim Form is to be forwarded on to the Nominal Insurer.
 
In the circumstances where a vehicle is unidentified, in instances such as a “hit and run”, the process is somewhat more complicated.
 
A person making a claim on the Nominal defendant is required to undertake “due search and enquiry”. The question that arises here, is what does this in fact mean?
 
In general terms, “due search and enquiry” means “everything that you can reasonably do to attempt to locate and find the identity of the vehicle which caused the accident”. 
 
This particular understanding is quite fluid and pursued on a case by case basis. Depending on the place, time and nature of the accident, due search and enquiry may be found sufficient in one matter, and not in another.
 
In the matter of R –v- Nominal Defendant, in circumstances where a truck was driving on the Pacific Highway, not far from a particular Truck Stop, at approximately 6.00pm in the evening, one of the wheels of the B-Double truck detached from the truck, striking the barrier and colliding with Mr R’s vehicle.
 
The truck did not notice that the wheel had become detached and did not stop. They were also unaware that an incident had occurred.
 
We were approached by Mr R to make a claim for compensation, and accordingly, we began “due search and enquiry”.
 
We undertook the following:
 
1.         Telegraph paper advertisement
 
2.         Truck Stop Notices, within a five kilometre radius of the incident site.
 
In such circumstances, it was accepted, given the time, locality and circumstances of the incident that the due search and enquiry was reasonable and the Nominal Defendant accepted that the vehicle was unidentified.
 
In the matter of L –v- Nominal Defendant, where the incident occurred on a local suburban Street in Ashfield New South Wales, where a pedestrian was struck by a vehicle at approximately 4.00pm and the vehicle did not stop to render assistance or provide details.
 
In this circumstance, similar investigations such as those above were undertaken and the Nominal Defendant identified that such enquiry was not reasonable and determined that “due search and enquiry” had not been fulfilled.
 
It was suggested that in such a circumstance, given the time and place of incident, a door knock and postal drop would have rendered further assistance.
 
It is noted that such enquiries were undertaken, resulting in no witnesses being found. Accordingly, upon forwarding further information to the Nominal Defendant, it was ultimately determined that “due search and enquiry” had been fulfilled.
 
It is clear from these two examples, that “due search and enquiry” has no one meaning. However, as long as an injured person does everything that is reasonable and possible to ensure that an attempt has been made to locate a possible responsible party, the Nominal Defendant will accept that the “due search and enquiry” has been fulfilled.
 
Please be aware that while the Nominal Defendant is required to provide us with a Determination on their view as to the responsible party, them simply accepting that “due search and enquiry” has been undertaken is not such an admission as to liability.
 
What we take from this is that even if a vehicle is unregistered, or a person that is responsible for an incident cannot be identified, the New South Wales CTP Regime and Motor Accidents Compensation Regime allows a person to be treated and ultimately receive compensation.