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Hit and run? You can still claim.

Dimitri Valis -
Accredited Specialist
in Personal Injury Law

For the overwhelming majority of drivers, the thought of causing an accident and failing to stop to render assistance or provide licence and insurance information is unthinkable. Yet as unlikely as this might sound, ‘hit and run’ accidents do occur- so much so that the NSW government introduced an initiative aimed at ensuring victims of hit and run accidents are still able to claim compensation, despite not knowing the identity of the vehicle at fault in their accident.

Hit and run accidents can occur for a number of reasons. Aggressive driving (road rage), impaired driving (drink driving, driving while under the influence of drugs), unlicensed driving (suspended or revoked licences) and fear of consequence are the most common reasons for drivers failing to stop following a collision. But where does this leave the victim?

Enter ‘The Nominal Defendant’, a scheme managed by the Motor Accidents Authority for the purpose of compensating people who are injured as a result of the negligent driving of unidentified and/or uninsured vehicles.

The scheme receives its funding from the group of approved Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurers and randomly allocates an insurer to manage and pay compensation to the victims of hit and run accidents. Injury compensation entitlements are identical to those paid to victims of accidents caused by identified vehicles and, once a claim is approved by the Nominal Defendant, the normal claims process is followed.

To qualify to use the scheme, the victim of a hit and run accident or their legal representative must undertake ‘due inquiry and search’, that is, reasonable steps must be taken to attempt to identify the vehicle at fault in an accident. In most cases, reasonable steps to establish the identity of an unidentified vehicle will include speaking to witnesses, liaising with police, placing an advertisement in a local paper, letterbox drops and putting up public notices. If you are legally represented, your lawyer will undertake the due inquiry and search process on your behalf.

Since its introduction, the Nominal Defendant scheme has proven to be extremely valuable to victims of hit and run accidents. In the last financial year alone, the Nominal Defendant allocated over 600 claims to CTP insurers in NSW. In 2012 Law Partners finalised a claim made by a client who was the victim of a hit and run accident. In that case the vehicle at fault could not be identified and a claim was made against the Nominal Defendant. The Law Partners client received over $500,000 in compensation which they may not have received in the absence of the scheme.

If you would like further information about the Nominal Defendant scheme or general personal injury advice call Law Partners Compensation Lawyers on 1800 888 529.
Dimitri Valis is the Managing Solicitor of the Law Partners motor accident injury team.

Contact him at dimitri.valis@lawpartners.com.au

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