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Car accident and small claims court procedure 

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#1 .RONE

  • Joined:28-December 09
  • Location:Australia VIC
  • Car:Shinigami S13

Posted 08 April 2013 - 09:54 PM

Hey guys.

Just after some help from any knowledgeable legal heads if present on the boards, or just those with more understanding of matters similar to mine which I'll get into explaining below. Mods feel free to move to more appropriate section if you feel the need.

Ok, so the Thursday before Good Friday I was involved in a vehicle collision in my daily - a 1977 Toyota ke30.
It's not a rust bucket either, it's incredibly clean and well looked after given it's age.
The incident took place in the evening and I was not at fault.
The impatient woman who was qued up to turn left onto a main road which was also backed up due to a train crossing a few hundred metres ahead decided not to wait.
I was pulling out from the street that essentially met that que to my left.
Now, no oncoming traffic from either direction was approaching and I had double checked as per normal as I consider myself to be a cautious driver what with the amount of incompetent idiots on our roads.
As my car was slowly passing the rear of her 2009 Kia Carnival [with reverse sensors] I quickly checked left again to ensure i hadn't missed any oncoming cars that may have been in a blind spot from my previous position, only to notice this moron willy-nilly reversing with reckless abandon straight into my left hand rear quarter panel.

I barely had any time to move forward at all, though as I did manage to move in the split second I had I ensured a long loud horn just before I was hit.
I would have been properly t-boned otherwise.
Her car didn't slow down. It simply rammed mine and only then did she realise.

Now to cut to the chase. Neither party is insured. I am aware that would have made things easier had I been: noted - but anyway.
She admitted fault in person and gave the usual amount of useless excuses.
She also stated she would pay for the damages as she knew she'd created the accident.

Details were exchanged, except in the heat of the moment - I had forgotten to note the address.

Now, come Tuesday and back to work, we'd discussed that I'd provide her the quotes and we'd take it from there.
I work in the panel industry, so I was able to get multiple quotes quickly - all of which were between $2000 and $3000
Once passed on, contact became essentially nonexistant.

I should mention there was next to no damage on her car minus a small dent and scuff on her rear bar.
Obviously not expecting such a large amount, her true colours shone through and did everything she could to not communicate with me on the matter.
That being said, I was not a bastard about it, nor did I harass her. I kept every sms exchange, calm, professional, well written and factual with politeness.

I kept everything to sms, so when she'd reply I would have detailed logs of the exchanged messages.
After countless times I'd asked, she refused to provide an address.
So, I warned that my only option was to make it a police matter as she is required to by law to provide it.

With the help of a friendly young cop and my own internet searching, I found her.
I sent her a message stating that I would like the matter handled outside of court, just as I did on day one and that I just wanted my pride and joy; my car, fixed...and was willing to accept $1500 just to have it over and done with.
That being said, I mentioned if this didn't seem like a viable option than I would pursue it at small claims after I'd issued her a letter of demand and any other relevant documentation for the hearings etc.

By this stage I had not recieved any contact off her for several days, until tonight.
I had some chipper young man ring me at 8:07 from a Free Legal Aid office, most likely a law student at university, who couldn't string a sentence together to save himself, notify me that should I wish to contact the lady again, I would have to go through him, as he is now the representative.

I said that's fine and I'd wait to hear back from him within the fortnight regarding the matter.


Thanks guys.

Edited by .RONE, 08 April 2013 - 10:10 PM.

#2 pmod

  • Joined:13-May 10
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:Fruity 180sx

Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:32 AM

Difficult to say on the outcome without you possessing photos of a P5 police report (assuming you have those in VIC), however if you have any legally-admissable evidence (e.g. admittance of guilt in an SMS - I expect it's authenticity could be verified with by a Telco if needed) in which she admits guilt, then I would expect the outcome to be more in your favour. Your history of making offers and her refusal to comply would also work in your favour.

Realistically, you should seek some form of legal advice yourself, as she is now trying her damnedest to get out of it, I guarantee you. Talk to whatever free legal assistance there is, then ideally get your own solicitor to write her a letter of demand. Yes it costs money, but sometimes it just has to be done and suggests court will be enevitable should she not comply. Furthermore, why wait 14 days? Even if the payment date is later, there is still no reason to demand an immediate response, whether it be an independant inspection or similar. I would also seek the correct amount for damage repair, as she has dicked you around and her car suggests she is not broke, so why make it easy and cheap for her?

The whole situation reminds me of a piece of advice I've given people over the years, which is to write down your insurance details and a process for accident handling (details to get, photos to make, police reports to enter, etc) and put it in the glove box. That way in the heat of the moment, you don't have to think, just act.

As for past experience, I got shafted (technically the NRMA got shafted, as my excess was still lower than the legit repair amount) by an off-duty cop. He stopped for no reason turning onto a completely empty main road one morning, and I rear ended him at 5kmph. Once he had moved onto the road I started slowly moving, checked the right, snapped my head back to go only to see he was at a dead stop. Jumped on the brakes but my pissweak Corolla couldn't stop in the few meters I had. So I was legally at fault, but realistically he caused it.

So I had a busted plastic spot light and he had a tiny depression on his bumper and higher on his tailgate (newish Mazda 3 hatch) caused mostly by the light. Cop filled in a P5 which I verified at the station that night, I contacted NRMA who said they had to wait for a claim. Nothing appeared, then 6 months later he put a claim in for $4500, filled with BS. Apparently he needed a new bar, reo, hatch, glass, reconstruction of the tyre well, new boot gas struts, paint... the list went on. I didn't have a camera with me that day to take pics so no evidence, but I contacted the NRMA to alert them to the fraud. They did nothing, said there's no time limit to lodge a claim and just paid it out. Were I to have no insurance I would have to take it to court.

Edited by pmod, 09 April 2013 - 12:43 AM.

#3 .RONE

  • Joined:28-December 09
  • Location:Australia VIC
  • Car:Shinigami S13

Posted 09 April 2013 - 08:09 AM

Thanks for the quick and informative reply mate.

I found appropriate documentation online this morning through the Victorian police website for vehicle incident reports and have printed 3 copies of all relevant forms, including 3 copies of each quote I'd recieved through panel shops last week in preparation for court proceedings, should that go ahead.

I don't have an admittance of guilt unfortunately through SMS, though she did state it in person - though that's not going to assist me really.
The fact that she didn't willingly provide me an address after countless times me asking for it suggests she wanted no involvement whatsoever to start with in terms of resolving the incident.
Furthermore, she also did not return phone calls and or voice messages left on her phone from the Constable I was dealing with last weekend.
I have his details - can I get some form of written statement from him to confirm the above? - Alongside any of the vehicle incident forms I'll have filled out with him.

Her refusing to comply with standard proceedings of a matter like this, along with doing her best to dodge the police's attempts to contact her really only contribute to the fact she is guilty, and makes her look even moreso due to her lack of cooperation.

I should also mention there were no witnesses at the scene as everyone drove off, however one bloke came out of what I believe was a nearby house and seemed to know her.
I can only assume he had heard me yelling at her from across the road to come back and talk to me about the smash - as it really looked like she was about to drive off.
He just shuffled around not really doing much - no photos taken etc.

Edited by .RONE, 09 April 2013 - 08:24 AM.

#4 Chappy

  • Joined:03-November 04
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:2009 V36 370GT Sedan

Posted 09 April 2013 - 08:56 AM

With no witnesses, pics of the accident or admittance of guilt from her, i don't like your chances.

#5 TheApothecary

  • Joined:10-May 11
  • Location:Australia SA
  • Car:Forever A Charade

Posted 09 April 2013 - 09:16 AM

Luckily MCM did an episode on how to bog your car... (that was a bit too dry humour, yes?)

oh rear quarter, I thought front and it would be an easy panel swap, that does make life hard.

But as above with chappy's post and along with no insurance (some companies will do a hit & run cover with high-ish excess but for a clean, lower-km vehicle they'll repair it rather than pay you out)

#6 .RONE

  • Joined:28-December 09
  • Location:Australia VIC
  • Car:Shinigami S13

Posted 09 April 2013 - 09:47 AM

I have several mobile phone pictures from the accident - of both the damage caused to my car and hers, along with one of the street signs at the small intersection of where it took place.
Upon getting home I also took high resolution photos of the damage of my car, which is what I used to forward onto panel shops.

The sms log print outs should assist me, as it shows just how much of a complete and utter fu*kwit she is and how difficult she has been every step of the way as opposed to how helpful and polite i'd been throughout it all.

Edited by .RONE, 09 April 2013 - 09:53 AM.

#7 Chappy

  • Joined:03-November 04
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:2009 V36 370GT Sedan

Posted 09 April 2013 - 09:50 AM

If your pictures show the right stuff you should make a police report immediately.

The police report should work in your favour in court.

Also you should not be waiting for a response from her redneck lawyer, as soon as the deadline in your letter of demand is passed, start your legal proceedings.

And in you initial demand for damages you should be asking for the maximum quote you received. Monetary demands are almost always bargained down.

Edited by Chappy, 09 April 2013 - 09:51 AM.

#8 pmod

  • Joined:13-May 10
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:Fruity 180sx

Posted 09 April 2013 - 10:02 AM

I you have decent pics then it's time to seek legal advice. Do the pictures show her plates and indicate the approximate positions of the cars? These days I'd be taking video too, and in light of this event I expect your project Silvia will receive a surveillance camera soon enough.

A Police report, solicitor's letter of demand and knowing her address will put you in a much stronger position. Adequate legal representation has a huge impact, but still people like this are more than happy to play possum all day until you know where they live. At that point they freak out, as their fear is that even then if they win, they still don't know if you'll wait 6 months or so and then pay them a visit late at night, key their entire car and drain all their gearbox oil, or similar. It happens often enough, and I've know people on either side such wrath.

#9 .RONE

  • Joined:28-December 09
  • Location:Australia VIC
  • Car:Shinigami S13

Posted 09 April 2013 - 10:38 AM

I have a photo of her registration plate and the small amount of damaged caused to her car from the day.
I have multiple high resolution phots of my cars damage from various angles which I took once home.
All photos have been printed out, along with the sms message logs.

I have made note of the incident with my nearest police station last Friday evening once it was clearly evident she was not going to supply her address on her own will.
Tonight I'll be filing an official report and making copies for myself and the other party should either mediation and/or a hearing go ahead at the Magistrates Court.

I am yet to fill out an official letter of demand, however will get on to this as soon as possible.
I've also written a few brief statements regarding the events of that incident and what has happened since with the communication [or lack thereof] with the other party involved.

Can I get the officer who was assisting me in the matter to make a written statement regarding her lack of compliance or anything?


#10 pmod

  • Joined:13-May 10
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:Fruity 180sx

Posted 09 April 2013 - 11:13 AM

Future events don't hold as much sway as things done in the past, but you can try. If she denied the accident in court and you could prove it a lie, she would face criminal charges. However proving these things can be difficult, but she may not want to take the risk and instead admits fault.

Edited by pmod, 09 April 2013 - 11:16 AM.

#11 Chappy

  • Joined:03-November 04
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:2009 V36 370GT Sedan

Posted 09 April 2013 - 11:21 AM

View Post.RONE, on 09 April 2013 - 10:38 AM, said:

Can I get the officer who was assisting me in the matter to make a written statement regarding her lack of compliance or anything?

Don't ask us, ask the officer!

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