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Proper inquiry and search in motor vehicle accidents
In the Queensland Supreme Court decision of Ford v Nominal Defendant  QSC 83, the Court considered the issue of whether the appellant, who was injured in a motor vehicle accident, had made proper inquiry and search to identify the responsible driver.
Ford v Nominal Defendant  QCA83
The appellant in this case was riding his motorcycle when a piece of timber fell from a utility vehicle and struck him. He suffered spinal injuries as a result. The appellant sued the driver of the utility vehicle, but the driver was unidentified and therefore the claim was brought against the Nominal Defendant (see our earlier articles for more information about the role of the Nominal Defendant).
The case turned on whether the appellant had made a "proper inquiry and search" to identify the driver.
The trial judge found that the appellant had not made a proper inquiry and search because he had not attempted to obtain the number plate of the utility vehicle. The appellant appealed this decision, arguing that he had not been required to pursue the utility vehicle or to return to the scene of the accident in order to identify the driver.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the appellant and allowed the appeal. The court held that the appellant had not been required to undertake steps that were unlikely to be productive. The court also noted that the appellant had been shocked and injured at the time of the accident, and that this had affected his ability to make a proper inquiry and search.
Standard for proper inquiry and search
This case is a reminder that the standard of "proper inquiry and search" is not a rigid one. The court will consider the specific circumstances of each case when determining whether a person has made a proper inquiry and search.
Here are some key takeaways from the case:
- The standard of "proper inquiry and search" is not a rigid one.
- The court will consider the specific circumstances of each case when determining whether a person has made a proper inquiry and search.
- A person is not required to undertake steps that are unlikely to be productive.
- A person who has been injured in an accident may be excused from making a full inquiry and search if they were shocked or injured at the time of the accident or even in the alternative, if they do not believe they are injured.
How We Can Help
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If you, or someone you know has been injured, or you want a second opinion, call us now on (07) 4963 2000 or contact us via our online contact form for practical legal advice on how you should proceed.