Protecting your rights in a crash
EVERY day our roads are filled with more and more vehicles of all shapes and sizes along with a variety of drivers - young, old, locals and visitors from interstate and overseas.
This brings more congestion to our road networks along with inexperienced road users and therefore an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.
I would like to give you an outline of your rights should the unfortunate instance of a motor vehicle accident occur to you and what important steps you should take to protect your legal rights.
Report to police
Under current Queensland legislation, an accident need only be reported to police in the event that a person involved in the accident has been injured or property damage arising as a consequence of the accident exceeds $2500.
While you may not need to report the accident if you do not meet these criteria, the insurance policy that covers your vehicle may require the accident to be reported to the insurer.
Details to record
1. Make, model, type, colour and registration numbers of all vehicles involved;
2. Full names, phone numbers and addresses of the owners of the vehicles and, where possible, their drivers' licence numbers (don't forget a person may have updated their licence, so check the reverse side of their licence to make sure there isn't a sticker there updating the address);
3. Details of any witnesses who saw the accident, including their full names, addresses and phone numbers.
Photographs are your best evidence
It is wise to take photographs if possible of the accident scene, including all vehicles and any other important factors such as hazards and the location.
This is important to show the conditions at the time of the accident, e.g. wet or that nightfall was approaching, as well as being actual evidence rather than later having to rely upon different parties' versions of events, which very often conflict with each other.
It is imperative that you take photographs of the damage to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved. Property damage claims must be made within six years of the date of the accident, though it is important to make these demands as soon as possible so that you are able to contact parties involved and witnesses for the purposes of attaining statements as to their versions of events.
In the event that you are insured, this is usually a task taken on by your insurance company, though if you are uninsured and unfamiliar with what is involved in what you are entitled to recover and how to go about doing it, the easiest way is to consult a solicitor as very often they are able to claim legal costs against the liable party. There may also be other claims open to you, depending upon the circumstances of the matter. The amount which you are able to claim for the damage to your vehicle will need to be properly assessed, and this is usually done by an assessor or an appropriately qualified person, but it is important to remember that you may have a right to make claims for additional things.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustain injuries, you may be able to make a claim, and this must be made within three years of the date of the accident, though there are other strict time limits and steps which must be taken and it is important to seek legal advice as a matter of urgency to ensure that your entitlement to claim is not jeopardised.
Hopefully you will never be required to use this advice, though in the event that you are, this will hopefully assist you with preserving your rights and give you a better understanding of what to do.
Columnist Guy McEntyre is a managing law clerk with the legal firm, Hall & Co Solicitors.