My first concern when I have been in a car accident is to ensure that everone is ok. I am not sure if it is as a result of flash backs from my years of working in personal injuries or an integraned personality trait. But when the blood is pumping through my veins and my fit bit hits that elusive cardio burn heart rate all I can think of is others. My second concern is then to get my shaking, adrenalin riddled hands to use a phone to call the police…because that’s what you do, right?
When I was a personal injury lawyer, one of the many first things I would discuss with a client was, did the police attend? and if not, had they reported the accident? That all changed from 1 January 2015 when the Queensland Police implemented a new system to reduce danger to road users and minimise traffic congestion, located here. Police are no longer required to attend crash accidents unless the accident meets the criteria.
So what do you do if you are involved in a car accident?
Is anyone trapped or injured? Yes, call 000
If no one is trapped or injured;
- Are police needed to direct traffic or deal with hazards? or
- Do any drivers appear affected by alcohol or drugs? or
- Has anyone involved failed to exchange details?
Yes, call Policelink on 131 444. No, Police do not need to attend the crash site.
If your vehicle does not need to be towed, exchange details and leave the crash site. You are not required to report the crash to police, but you can report the crash if you would prefer.
If your vehicle does need to be towed, arrange the towing. Exchange details and leave the crash site. After leaving the crash site , report the crash to the police within 24 hours.
Reporting your crash to Policelink can be made either online, via smart phone app or calling 131444. You will be provided with a “QP” number to provide to your insurer.
To report the accident you will need to provide the following information;
- Date and time of crash
- Precise location of crash
- Description of how the traffic crash occurred
- Your personal details (required particulars) including your licence details
- Your vehicle details (if applicable)
- Details of other involved persons and vehicles – including witnesses (if known and it is a reportable crash)
- Details on damage to vehicle and damaged property (if applicable)
- Details on injury (if applicable)
- Further crash features including site attributes (e.g. speed limit, number of lanes), site conditions (e.g. Traffic control, lighting) and contributing circumstances if applicable.
There are many more what if’s to a situation and you should be aware that even if you are not required to report the crash, you still can, however, your traffic crash may not be investigated. Insurers may also require even further information than what is listed above (however, remember their request should be reasonable).
While it doesn’t mention anything regarding evidence gathering, I always (when safe to do so) take photographs of the area and obtain as much information/evidence as possible regarding the circumstances of the accident and any witnesses (out of habit!).
If you are having difficulties with your insurer, you may need to seek legal advice as to the terms and conditions of your policy, and/or speak with the Financial Services Ombudsman.
Did you exchange details but the at fault party will not pay and/or does not have insurance?
If you have comprehensive car insurance you can make a claim on your policy and your Insurer will liaise directly with the at fault party to recover the costs of the damage.
If the at fault party is not agreeable to paying the damage caused to your vehicle by their negligence (and you don’t have Insurance) then you should seek legal advice. You must make a claim for property damage within six years from the accident date. However, any action should be considered ASAP while the evidence in fresh.
Legal Aid Queensland have a fairly comprehensive booklet with further information, which is located here.
Did you suffer from a personal injury?
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of another person, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Strict time limits apply for commencing a CTP claim. The pre-court procedure requires you to provide a Notice of Accidnet Claim Form and CTP Medical Certificate to the CTP Insurer within 1 month of obtaining legal advice or within 9 months of the date of the accident (whichever comes first). In addition court proceedings must be commenced within 3 years from the date of the accident or you claim can be statute barred.
Where the vehicle which caused the accident (and your subsequent injury) was unregistered or unidentificable, the Nominal Defendant is the “Insurer” due to there being no CTP insurance. The Notice of Accident Claim Form must be served on the ‘Nominal Defendant’ within 9 months of accident, irrespective of the 3 year limitation period or your claim will be barred. You should seek legal advice as a matter of urgency.
If you were injured and the accident was your fault, you may be able to claim Drivers Insurance if it is attached to your Insurance.
From 1 July 2016, Queensland has implemented the National Injury Insurance Scheme, which provides insurance for catastrophic motor vehicle injuries (no fault). The application for this scheme must be made within 1 year of the date of the accident.