Most drivers will make an audible groaning sound when they have a road accident involving another car only to discover the other driver is uninsured.
Naturally enough there are visions of potential large out-of-pocket expenses to fix the damage to your car. If you’ve been injured in the accident, need time off work and incur medical expenses, then the situation looks even worse.
Compensation law requires another party to be ‘at fault’. Who do you make a compensation claim against if the driver and vehicle at fault are either not known or has no insurance?
In this situation, the ‘nominal defendant’ schemes in most states of Australia provide a safety net that allows people injured in a car accident with an uninsured driver to still make a compensation claim.
This post deals with how to make a claim against the nominal defendant but if you have questions about the process, contact Law By Dan today.
Making a claim against the nominal defendant
The funds available in NSW’s nominal defendant scheme are created by taking a small portion from each contribution to the state’s compulsory third party (CTP) insurance scheme.
While the CTP scheme allows an injured driver to claim against the at-fault driver’s CTP insurer, this is not possible if the driver who caused the accident flees the scene or is driving an unregistered vehicle with no CTP insurance (as is required of all registered vehicles).
This ostensibly unfair situation is remedied by the nominal defendant scheme, a legal concept that allows people injured in the aforementioned circumstances to claim compensation.
The nominal defendant acts as the CTP insurer and the claim for compensation by the injured driver is known as a Nominal Defendant Claim.
In NSW, where the accident involves an unregistered vehicle without CTP insurance, the claimant must provide evidence that the vehicle which caused the accident was unregistered. A licence plate check with NSW Police or the NSW Claims Advisory Service can help establish this fact.
The process is slightly different if the other vehicle can’t be identified, requiring the claimant to do ‘due enquiry and search’ (such as questioning witnesses to the accident or making a public advertisement) to find the at-fault vehicle.
It should also be noted that the process varies in Queensland, where the government authority in the position of the nominal defendant investigates the accident in an attempt to find the offending vehicle and driver.
Also in Queensland, the Nominal Defendant has the right to recover as a debt, the amount paid in settlement of the claim from the owner or driver (or both) of the uninsured motor vehicle.
What can be claimed and time limits
A Nominal Defendant Claim can be made for the same things a claim under CTP insurance compensates – loss of income due to the injury, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and domestic assistance.
This type of claim should be made within six months of the accident. The claim should be accompanied by a Personal Injury Claim form and a medical certificate. Seeking the guidance of an expert compensation lawyer in filling out the forms is advised.
Like any compensation matter, it’s important to get the details right before you make your claim. At Law By Dan, we have the expertise and experience to guide you through a Nominal Defendant Claim across Australia to ensure you get what you’re entitled to as compensation for your injury.