Motor Accident Compensation

Case study: Accident compensation when the driver at fault is unknown

“Nominal defendant” motor accident compensation claims, and a case study of a matter that recently went to trial.

“Nominal defendant” motor accident compensation claims, and a case study of a matter that recently went to trial. 


When it comes to claims against large insurance companies, we pride ourselves on getting results regardless of the challenges.

TGB has recently had several matters run to trial, two of which have been against the Nominal Defendant.

The Nominal Defendant is the claims agent or insurer responsible for claims where people are injured in a motor vehicle accident where the party at fault is unknown, or the vehicle involved in the collision is unregistered. For example, an individual injured in a hit and run scenario is still eligible to make a third party personal injury claim.

The two distinct issues that are often in dispute between the plaintiff (the injured person) and the defendant (the insurer) are liability and quantum. Liability covers issues regarding who is at fault for the collision. This is important, because to have a claim the injured person must not have been at fault, or at least was only partially at fault for the accident. The second, quantum, concerns what is fair and reasonable compensation for an individual, due to injuries suffered in an accident.

Partner Tim White and I recently succeeded in a long and complex battle against the Nominal Defendant.

In 2004, a father of two was involved in an accident while working as a truck driver on the Sturt Highway in South Australia’s Riverland. An unknown vehicle pulled out from a side street across the path of the fully loaded semi-trailer. A primary school was located at the intersection. The truck driver managed to avoid what could have been a catastrophic outcome.

The driver responsible for the accident fled from the scene.

An independent witness, who narrowly missed being involved in the collision herself, saw the incident unfold before her. Police attended the scene, took statements and attempted to locate the unknown vehicle and/or the driver. The driver and the vehicle have never been located.

The truck driver suffered physical and psychological injuries. He struggled to come to terms with the fact that he, and the driver who caused the accident and fled from the scene, narrowly escaped serious injury or death. As a result of his psychological injuries following the accident, the truck driver has not been able to return to his pre-accident work. The suffering from the accident impacted his job, health and family.

The insurer did not accept the truck driver’s story.

After a dispute that lasted eight years, and a three week District Court Trial and subsequent Appeal in the state’s highest Court, the truck driver’s evidence was accepted. He was awarded compensation for his injuries and loss sustained.

This case highlights the importance of persistence and determination despite the challenges.

For a free initial interview about your injury claim contact your nearest TGB location.