Claim Can Now be Made Against Unnamed Drivers

Published: 30th June 2017

In a recent landmark case a claimant won the right to issue a claim against the unnamed driver of a vehicle in a hit and run road traffic accident.

A judgement like this has not been made before, and sets a new precedent in the field of RTAs.

The original incident saw a woman being hit by a car, which promptly drove off. Though she was not able to identify the driver of the car, she made a note of its registration. Upon investigation it was found that vehicle was insured, and through this the keeper of the vehicle identified. Though the keeper of the vehicle refused to name who was driving the vehicle at the time of the incident. This led to the keeper being charged with failing to give the identity of the driver.

As the actual defendant could not be identified the claimant named the keepers insurers as a secondary defendant on the basis that it was obliged to satisfy any outstanding judgment under Section 151 of the Road Traffic Act (RTA) 1988.

The insurer denied liability as the policy did not actually cover the original defendant, and the actual driver was not identified. The insurers argued that section 151 did not apply in these circumstances, and that the claimant should pursue the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) under the Untraced Drivers Agreement (UTDA) instead.

The claimant then applied to amend her claim, changing the defendant from the registered keeper of the vehicle to ‘the person unknown driving vehicle [registration number] who collided with vehicle [registration number] on [date of accident]’. The judge ruled against her application and granted summary judgement in favour of the second defendant insurers.

The claimant took the case to the court of appeals who ruled that an insurer’s statutory liability under section 151 does not depend on whether the driver is named. So long as there was a policy in place, and subject to notice, then the insurer is required to meet liabilities to third party victims with a right of recovery against the insured and/or at-fault driver.

In future, similar, cases the claimant will have the option to pursue a claim against the MIB under the UTDA, or to pursue the relevant insurer under section 151. It is expected that in most cases the claimant will chose the latter, as it is likely to have a better success rate, and a better remedy issued.

Liddy’s solicitors specialises in personal injury claims, including RTAs. If you have been the victim of a road traffic accident, whether you have identified the driver or not, then call us today on 01226 731 314 to see how we can help.