Category

Road Accident Claim

hit and run
By | Road Accident Claim

Following serious hit and run accidents in Queensland, authorities often make public appeals for help. In most cases they will ask anyone with knowledge of the crash to contact them including, of course, the driver who fled the scene. Sadly, Queensland police have had to turn to the public all too often lately. The most recent appeal (on January 24) came hours after an unknown vehicle struck and killed an 18-year-old Geham man who was walking on the New England Highway near the intersection with Reushle Road.

Of course, not all hit and run accidents result in serious injuries or death. Some just cause property damage. In any case, here’s what you should do if you have been involved in this type of accident.

Applicable laws

In Queensland, you must report a motor vehicle accident to the police if:

  • someone was hurt;
  • someone died;
  • property damage is greater than, or is likely to be greater than, $2,500.

Section 92 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 also mandates that any motorist involved an incident that results in a death or injury must:

  • stop immediately;
  • stay at the scene;
  • provide reasonable help to injured persons;
  • make reasonable efforts to get medical help and other applicable assistance for injured persons;
  • demonstrate proper decorum for the body of a deceased person;
  • take appropriate steps to have the body transferred to a suitable place.

The only exceptions to this are if the driver leaves to:

  • get medical help or other assistance for an injured person;
  • get help having a deceased person’s body relocated to a suitable place.

Consequences for failure to comply

Under Section 92 of the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995 the punishment upon conviction for leaving the scene of the accident as detailed above is 20 penalty units or one year imprisonment if no one was hurt or killed. The maximum penalty, imposed for leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident where someone was hurt or killed, is 120 penalty units or three years imprisonment.

Furthermore, anyone convicted of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident where there are fatalities or injuries will not be able to hold or obtain a Queensland driver’s licence for at least six months. You should be aware that the court has no discretion regarding driver disqualification in these circumstances.

As long as there is sufficient proof, a court will also impose some period of imprisonment as part of the sentence for anyone who has “showed a callous disregard for the needs of a person injured in the incident”.

Tips for hit and run accident victims

Now let’s talk about what you should do and, just as importantly, what you should not do, if another motorist hit your vehicle and fled the scene.

To begin with, do not try to take matters into your own hands. Do not pursue or try to confront the other driver. Instead, remain calm and try to gather as much information as possible. Specifically, you should try to get the vehicle’s registration number and a description of the driver and their vehicle.

Do not forget to report the accident to police and make sure you can get a copy of the accident report. While on the scene, try to gather all relevant information from any witnesses. This includes their names, phone numbers and any other contact information they are willing to provide. Be sure to take note of any details they can provide about the other vehicle and driver, too.

If at all possible, use your smartphone to document the accident scene. This should include the damage to your vehicle along with any other property damage, such as fallen trees, bent light poles, broken fences and so forth. While you are at it, see if any nearby shops, businesses or residences have surveillance cameras that may have captured the accident.

Finally, do not forget to contact your insurance company to get the claims process started.

If you were hurt…

If you were hurt in a motor vehicle accident where the other driver fled the scene, it is crucial that you get medical attention as soon as possible. This is important not only for your wellbeing but also for your insurance claim and any other legal action you may take.

If you are unable to document the scene as detailed above, ask someone with you to document the scene for you. If that’s not possible, try to visit the scene as soon as you are able to after the accident, or ask a friend or family member to do so for you.

Something else to keep in mind is that the process for initiating a claim for compensation through the other driver’s insurance provider is also different in a hit and run accident. If you get their registration number, in Queensland simply provide it to the Motor Accident Insurance Commission. It can use the information to verify the driver’s identity and their CTP insurer. This allows you to seek compensation for your injuries and damages directly through that insurer.

Even if the at-fault driver cannot be identified, all is not lost. This is because there’s another way to initiate a compensation claim for your injuries against the ‘Nominal Defendant’. Specifically, you can do so through a government insurance program. This particular program provides financial protection to injured victims in these cases.

It’s also important to note that a strict time limit applies to bringing this kind of claim. In Queensland, a claim form must be lodged within three months of the date of the accident and no later than nine months from when it happened. There is no possibility of making a claim against the nominal defendant in Queensland if you do not meet the nine-month time limit.

Keep in mind this program differs throughout Australia. Therefore it is important to get proper legal advice before pursuing this option.

Do not be afraid to pursue all legal options

Even if pursuing a claim against a Nominal Defendant seems like a hassle, it may be worthwhile. If you are eligible to file this sort of claim and you are successful, you may receive compensation for:

  • medical costs;
  • rehabilitation costs (such as physiotherapy and similar treatment);
  • loss of income or reduction of your income due to the inability to work;
  • the cost of home modifications associated with your injury (such as wheelchair ramps, grab rails, and so forth);
  • home care costs;
  • pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life (in some cases).

Of course, every situation is different. If you were involved in a hit and run accident and you want to learn more about your rights, contact our Gold Coast personal injury lawyers through our website, by email at info@lifestyleinjurylaw.com.au, or by phone at (07) 5627 0321.

motorbike accident lawyer
By | Road Accident Claim

Introduction

Motorcycle use in Australia has been steadily increasing since the early 2000s but the percentage of motorcycle registrations only account for around 4.5% of all passenger vehicle registrations. However, motorcycles account for a shockingly disproportionate number (around 15%) of all road crash deaths. Of those road deaths, alcohol and drugs were a causal factor in the accident 46% of the time. It’s a fact which reinforces something we all already know: drinking and driving do not mix.

Below we examine the facts in a case of a motorcycle death where alcohol was a factor and the question of fault was the Court’s chief concern.

Summary

After a night of heavy drinking, a couple of friends decided to take a 5am ride on their off-road motorcycles. The trail bikes were both unregistered and neither had headlights, despite the friends taking them onto a public road. Though the plaintiff was an experienced trail bike rider, he was unlicensed. The two friends were involved in a head-on collision while travelling from opposite directions on the road.

The crash occurred around 1.5 metres from the centre of the road on the plaintiff’s side, and both bikes collided on their left sides. This means that the defendant’s bike strayed across the path of the plaintiff’s bike prior to collision. Both plaintiff and defendant were intoxicated, but only the defendant was determined to be moving in excess of the speed limit.

Though the plaintiff was the only one wearing a helmet, he still suffered extreme injury. The plaintiff had his left leg amputated and lost the use of his left arm. Because the defendant was unregistered and uninsured, the plaintiff had to sue ‘the Nominal Defendant’, which is the stand-in entity for unregistered or uninsured vehicles.

Defendant

The defendant argued that the plaintiff was not owed a duty of care because the plaintiff had knowledge of the defendant’s intoxication. The defendant argued that even if the plaintiff was owed a duty of care, he contributed so extensively to the accident that his right to compensation should be reduced by 100%.

Furthermore, both the defendant and the plaintiff were willingly engaged in illegal activity (riding unregistered trail bikes while heavily intoxicated, and the plaintiff was unlicensed) and thus were both guilty of “joint illegal enterprise”. Because of their joint breach of criminal law, the defendant argued that the plaintiff was not entitled to claim compensation.

Plaintiff

The plaintiff accepted that he and the defendant were both at fault for the accident, but that the defendant was far more at fault and thus still owed the plaintiff a duty of care. The plaintiff reasoned that the defendant was more liable for the accident because, but for the defendant’s negligence in drifting to the plaintiff’s side of the road, the accident would not have happened. Unlike the plaintiff, the defendant failed to use a helmet, failed to maintain an appropriate speed, and failed to stay on his side of the road. The plaintiff argued that while his own actions contributed to the accident, it should only reduce his compensation claim by 25% because the defendant was 75% at fault.

Conclusion

The District Court and the Court of Appeal both ruled in favor of the plaintiff. They found that it was clear that the defendant’s failure to stay on the opposite side of the road was the primary cause of the accident, and it could have been avoided had he exercised reasonable care. While the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, the plaintiff was not completely absolved of fault. Thus the Court reasoned that the plaintiff’s right to compensation should be reduced by one-third (33%) for contributory negligence.

unregistered car accident
By | Road Accident Claim

Most people are aware that if they are involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustain serious injuries, a compensation claim may be available to them. Generally, if fault can be established, then the injured person is entitled to make a compensation claim against the at fault vehicle’s CTP insurer. However, what happens when the at fault vehicle is uninsured and not registered or if the vehicle has fled the scene of the accident and cannot be identified? This article will aim to answer those questions and give a brief overview of what happens in such a compensation claim.

The Nominal Defendant was created by the Queensland Government in 1961 so those injured in motor vehicle accidents involving unregistered, uninsured or unidentified vehicles were not disadvantaged in any way. There is, however, different limitations and restrictions placed on such claims.

A notice of claim generally must be given to the CTP insurer within 9 months of the date of accident or be accompanied by a reasonable excuse for delay. If, however, the accident involved an unidentified motor vehicle, the notice of claim must be given to the Nominal Defendant strictly within 9 months or the claim against the Nominal Defendant will be statute barred. This means you will be barred from ever bringing a claim and you will lose your entitlement to compensation.

In a personal injury claim involving an unidentified vehicle a claimant is under an obligation to perform proper search and inquiry according to section 31(2) of the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (Qld). This requires the claimant to perform searches/inquiries in an attempt to identify the vehicle. This may include letter box drops, publishing a public notice in the local newspaper and/or speaking with any potential witnesses. If a proper search and inquiry has failed to identify a vehicle then a claim against the Nominal Defendant will be accepted.

It is interesting to note that there are serious implications if you have been driving an unregistered and uninsured vehicle and are at fault for an accident. After a personal injury claim has resolved the Nominal Defendant could then pursue you for the damages they were required to pay to the injured claimant. This could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars if a person is seriously injured. As such, it is extremely important to make sure you pay your registration on time to ensure your vehicle is insured.

Strict time limits apply to claims involving the Nominal Defendant. So, if you have been involved in an accident where you believe an uninsured, unregistered or unidentifiable vehicle is at fault it is in your best interests to contact a personal injury lawyer in Gold Coast immediately to avoid losing your right to compensation.

car accident lawyers gold coast
By | Road Accident Claim

Most people have never been involved in a car accident and for some people that will stay that way. Unfortunately, through no fault of your own, there is a high chance that during your lifetime you will be involved in at least one car accident. Being involved in a car accident can be an extremely traumatic experience. If you have never been involved in an accident you will likely have no idea what to do and this may cause you to panic.

To avoid that, we have devised a number of simple tips for you to follow if you are ever involved in an accident.

  1. Stay calm, keep your cool and don’t panic;
  2. Maintain the safety of yourself and others;
  3. Call 000 if you or anyone involved has suffered any injuries or there is significant damage;
  4. If possible, move your car to the side of the road where it is safe. However, if you are unable to do this put your hazard lights on and remain inside the vehicle;
  5. If you are able, once the vehicle has been relocated to where it is safe, exchange details, take photos of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, the other person’s licence and any injuries if visible;
  6. See a doctor as soon as possible and report all injuries, no matter how insignificant they may seem; and
  7. Seek legal advice as strict time limits apply.

We hope these simple tips are helpful and give you a better understanding of what you should do if you are ever involved in a car accident. If you have been injured in a car accident and believe you may be entitled to compensation please seek urgent legal advice as strict time limits apply.