Motor Vehicle Accident Claims

Following a motor vehicle accident, it is typical to refer the property claims to the respective insurance companies held by each party. Difficulties however emerge when one or both parties are not insured. An uninsured party may be sued for recovery of the damages caused.

We act for the both the plaintiff and defendants in these kinds of claims.

Letters of demand

The initial action in relation to suing for recovery of damage to a car is for a letter of demand to be sent the driver of the car that caused the damage. This requests them to pay back the money owed to the owner of the damaged car within a certain time frame, failing which the writer may take legal action.

If no answer is received to a letter of demand, or if the driver of the car that caused the damage answers but refuses to pay back the money, you can begin to take steps to sue through the courts and tribunals.

Which court or tribunal you commence proceedings in will depend on the amount of damage done to your property.

Magistrates Court or Supreme Court

The Magistrates Court has jurisdiction hear matters involving debts of less than $100,000, while the Supreme Court is not limited in jurisdiction. It requires a form 5A to be completed and served on the other party.

The driver of the care that caused the damage then has 21 days from receiving service to either pay the claim or decide to defend the matter by filing a form 8A. If they do not respond within the 21-day period, a default judgement can be entered against the driver of the car that caused the damage.

Once the defendant has filed and served the response, the court will often organise a pre-hearing conference to try and resolve some or all of the issues in dispute..

If the pre-hearing conference does not resolve the matter, it will then proceed to a hearing at which the matter will be decided by a magistrate. The magistrate will decide on the balance of probabilities, questions of liability and quantum.

Time limit

It is important to note that under the Limitation of Actions Act 1958, such matters must be commenced within six years of the date the debt arose. If an order is granted, then there is generally fifteen years to enforce the order form the date the order was made.