Not in Victoria?

What to do if injured in an accident with an unregistered or unidentified vehicle (CTP)

Published on Posted on

Please note that this post was written for Queensland audiences and the information within may not apply to other regions.

Under Queensland law, all vehicle owners are required to take out Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance on their vehicles. This is to provide coverage for injuries sustained by other parties in the event of a car accident.

This is made easy by making it part of your vehicle’s registration costs. You also need this to legally be able to drive on the road.

It’s an unfortunate fact, however, that not everyone follows the rules. Many drive their cars unregistered and it’s also common for people to flee the scene.

So, what do you do if you’re injured in an accident with an unregistered or unidentified vehicle? Are you still covered by CTP even if there is no insurance to claim against? Can you still claim compensation if you’re injured in an accident with an unregistered or unidentified car?

Can I claim compensation if injured in an accident with an unregistered car?

Typically, in a motor vehicle accident, if you were not at fault, you would file a claim against the other driver’s CTP insurance.

But if the vehicle at fault is unregistered, it won’t be covered by a particular CTP policy since that forms part of the vehicle’s registration payments (which you can’t identify).

The good news is, if you were not at fault, you aren’t disadvantaged by the system for someone else’s wrongdoing. You still have entitlements to compensation under the Queensland CTP scheme, just in a different way.

The CTP scheme in Queensland is set up under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994.

As mentioned above it’s designed to provide insurance for all vehicles that are at fault and cause injury to others.

When you pay your registration, a small fee also goes to what is called the “nominal defendant”.

The nominal defendant is a government entity that steps in to represent uninsured and unidentifiable vehicles in personal injury claims arising from motor vehicle accidents.

Essentially, this is what helps those not at fault still claim compensation even if the at-fault vehicle isn’t registered and doesn’t have CTP insurance, or has fled the scene.

What do I have to do to claim against the CTP nominal defendant?

Claiming against the nominal defendant isn’t just a “given” however – there are some things you need to do first.

When it comes to claiming against the nominal defendant where a vehicle can’t be identified (i.e., the accident was a hit-and-run), you’re usually required to prove that you’ve done everything in your power to establish the identity of the vehicle involved.

In legal terms, this is referred to as a “proper inquiry and search”. But how do you do this?

You can do this yourself or engage a lawyer to help. Some steps you could take to help identify the vehicle could include:

  • Notifying the police of the accident as soon as possible, and making a police report
  • Collect witness details at the scene and follow up with them
  • Reach out on social media groups if someone saw anything or has dashcam footage
  • Investigate whether any CCTV footage from traffic cams or businesses in the area

This should be done in a timely manner to avoid missing out on the opportunity to start your claim.

Time limits to claiming against the nominal defendant?

After a motor vehicle accident, particularly a minor one, it’s common to become complacent. To just hold out and hope that your injury improves.

But waiting too long is not ideal as just as with making a regular CTP claim, there are strict time limits to claiming against the nominal defendant.

In Queensland, you must lodge a notice of intention to claim within three months of the accident to the nominal defendant if the vehicle cannot be identified and 9 months if the at fault vehicle was unregistered.

It’s worth noting that while it’s not a criminal offence to drive an unregistered vehicle in Queensland, it still is against the law and carries a range of penalties including fines and having the vehicle impounded.

Not only this, but if you’re driving an unregistered vehicle and cause an accident that injures someone else, the punishment could be more punitive if it’s deemed you were also driving without a license or driving dangerously or under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Read more things you should know about CTP claims in Queensland and common myths about car accident claims.