In a road accident, determining who is at fault can be difficult. In some cases, both parties may share the blame. In other cases, only one party may be responsible. And in still other cases, the victim may not be at fault at all. Who pays for damages in a road accident can also be tricky to determine.

Imagine a car driving along a motorway. The driver is tired from his long drive and begins to fall asleep. Suddenly, their foot hits the brake pedal and the car stops, fast! The vehicle travelling immediately behind them collides with the back of their car. Who is responsible here?

In this case, the driver who fell asleep has clearly caused the accident by failing to drive with due care and attention. However, the car travelling immediately behind would likely be assessed as having contributed to the accident by failing to leave enough space to stop their vehicle. This highlights the rule that you must drive a safe distance behind a vehicle travelling in front of you. While the driver who crashed into the rear of the other car would be able to seek compensation, any damages payable to them would be reduced by approximately 50% as they have contributed to the crash through their own negligent driving.

When it comes to seeking compensation, Queensland’s Compulsory Third Party (CTP) scheme keeps road users safe by ensuring that all vehicles have CTP before they can be registered. The CTP insurance company of an at fault vehicle will provide compensation to anyone injured on the roads by that motor vehicle. However, the at fault vehicle must be able to be identified, and negligence will have to be proved – so if you’re in a crash, take photos and make sure to take the contact details of those involved.

In the case of an unregistered at fault vehicle or a ‘hit-and-run’, the Nominal Defendant (a public entity) is available to provide compensation.

In this situation, an injured person must apply for compensation within a month of the date of the accident, or they might miss out.

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