Got a question? Ask Lawmail

Send your questions to Lawmail

Can't find the info you are looking for?Got a problem you can’t solve?

If you're under 25, or an adult asking on behalf of a person under 18, you can send your questions to Lawmail and we will email an answer to you in under 10 days. Urgent matters are dealt with more quickly.

Go to Lawmail. It’s free and confidential.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Property Damage

The law about car accidents can be quite complicated, so we’ve just given the most common questions that we get from young people. If you’re under 25 and you have a question that’s not listed here, please send us a Lawmail and we can give you free information and advice.

Someone has damaged my car but it wasn’t my fault – what do I do?

This depends on whether you have insurance or not. 

If you do have insurance, you can:

1) Claim on your insurance by calling your insurance company as soon as possible. 
Before claiming on insurance, it’s a good idea to think about how much your excess is (an excess is the amount you have to pay to the insurance company when you make a claim).  It may be cheaper to just ask the other person to pay you directly.  You might also want to think about whether the claiming will affect your no-claim bonus.

2) Pay for the repairs yourself – you might want to do this if there isn’t much damage and the amount on repairs would be less than your excess

3) Ask the other driver to pay for the damages to your car (without using insurance) – you can do this by sending a letter called a letter of demand.  If you choose this option, you should get legal advice because there are risks involved.   If you decide to demand payment from the other driver and they refuse to pay, you may have to take them to court to get them to pay. In order to this, you will have to do the following:
a) Make sure that you have the name and address of the other person. They should have told you this at the scene of the accident (and you should have told them your name and address). If they didn’t, but you have the number plate of their car, you can find out their name and address by calling the Department of Transport at 13 11 56. You can also use their Vehicle Licence Expire Date Enquiry webpage.[name of roads department in that state on insert phone number].
b) Find out how much it will cost to fix your car. You must get a quote for repair, including parts and labour, in writing. You should get more than one quote although you do not have to. If more than one quote is obtained, the claim should be for the lowest quoted price.
c) Prove that they were “negligent” - in other words that the accident was their fault.

If you decide to sue someone, you should get legal advice because the process can be quite complicated.

Before suing them, it’s a good idea to think about alternatives.  If the other person has insurance and the damage to your car is less than $3,000 you can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service to help you negotiate with their insurance company.  You can contact them on: 1300 78 08 08.



If you don’t have insurance, your only option is to ask the other driver to pay for the damages. 

You can do this by sending a letter of demand.  Legal Aid WA has sample Letters of Demand on this page: http://www.legalaid.wa.gov.au/InformationAboutTheLaw/CarsandDriving/accidents/Pages/NotUsingInsurance.aspx.  To find out more about a letter of demand, please see page 12 of this factsheetMotor vehicle accidents – dealing with the damage, from [insert sample letters of demand from state/territory legal aid]the Legal Aid Commission of Western Australia=. As the infosheet mentions, you shouldYou should get seek legal advice before sending a letter.  If you’re under 25 and you’ve had an accident and are not sure what to do, please send us a Lawmail and we can give you free advice.


I’ve smashed up my car in an accident and it’s my fault - what can I do?

This depends on whether you have insurance or not.  If you do have insurance, you can:
1) claim on your insurance by calling your insurance company as soon as possible. Before claiming on insurance, it’s a good idea to think about how much your excess is (an excess is the amount you have to pay to the insurance company when you make a claim.  You might also want to think about whether the claiming will affect your no-claim bonus.

2) pay for the repairs yourself.  This is your only option if you don’t have insurance.

The other side is saying I damaged their car and need to pay for it – what can I do?

This depends on whether you have insurance or not. 
If you do have insurance, you can:

1) Claim on your insurance by calling your insurance company as soon as possible. Before claiming on insurance, it’s a good idea to think about how much your excess is (an excess is the amount you have to pay to the insurance company when you make a claim.  You might also want to think about whether the claiming will affect your no-claim bonus.

2) Pay for the repairs yourself.

If you don’t have insurance, you will have to pay for the repairs yourself.  But you have a right to ask for information about the costs (for example, requesting repair quotes) and to negotiate with the other driver or their insurance company to agree on a payment arrangement that works for you. For example, you could agree with the other driver or their insurance company to pay a small instalment each month until the whole amount is paid off.
3) Defend the claim 
If you do not believe the damage was your fault either you or your insurance company (if you have insurance) can respond to the letter, giving the reasons you don’t think you should have to pay. If you decide to do this you should get Legal advice.

If you don’t have insurance you either have to pay for the repairs yourself or defend the claim. Remember, you have a right to ask the other driver to show you proof of the quotes they are claiming from.  

Someone has threatened to hurt me unless I pay for damage to their car – what can I do?

The other driver has a right to contact you, an insurance company or the police about the car accident. But their communications with you should not be unreasonably frequent, offensive, or make you feel unsafe.  Likewise, your communications with the other party should be polite. If the other driver is contacting you in an unreasonable, offensive or frightening way, we recommend contacting the police, or talking to a trusted adult.  If you are under 25 and this has happened to you, you can also send us a Lawmail and we can give you advice.
It's a good idea to keep written records of all your communications with the other driver, and copies of any documents they send to you, and that you send to them.

What happens if I supervise one of my friends who is a learner and they have an accident?


Many companies will cover damage if the learner was supervised by a fully licenced driver at the time.  This means you would have to be on your full licence, not your P1 or P2.  If your friend has an accident while driving your car, you should contact your insurance company to make sure that the damage is covered.  


I’ve had a car accident and insurance has said they will cover it, but they want me to pay an excess – do I have to pay?

Yes.  An excess is the amount of money you pay every time you make a claim on your insurance.   It’s something that you agree when you buy the insurance.    Unfortunately there’s no way to get out of it. In the future, you can reduce your excess by paying more per month or per year for your car insurance.
Someone has sent me a letter saying I have to pay them for damaging their car - what do I have to do about it?
A person can only ask for money to cover damage caused by the accident and their claim must be reasonable.  Sometimes they will do this through a document called a “letter of demand”.  If you have received one of these, you shouldn’t ignore it!!! 

If you are claiming through insurance, you should let your insurance company know about the letter as soon as possible.  If you are not claiming through insurance, you should reply to the letter.  If you think the letter of demand is not reasonable, you can write a reply to the letter of demand including the following information:
- that you do not think the amount they claim is reasonable. You can try to get a quote for an amount you believe is reasonable and put this quote in the letter
- when you want them to reply to your letter by e.g. 7 days
- put your contact phone number so they can reach you.
For more information about writing a response to a letter of demand, we recommend you get legal advice.  If you are under 25, you can send us a Lawmail and we can give you some free information and advice.
If you want to see some examples of how to reply to a letter of demand, check out this factsheet from [insert factsheets from state or territory legal aid departments on letters of demand]the webpage Claim made against you from the Legal Aid Commission of Western Australia.this factsheet from Legal Aid WA http://www.legalaid.wa.gov.au/InformationAboutTheLaw/CarsandDriving/accidents/Pages/ClaimMadeAgainstYou.aspx

I’m under 18 and I’ve had a car accident – do I have to pay for the damage I have caused?

The law says that the person who causes an accident is responsible for paying the damage. This is the situation even you are under 18.   If you don’t have insurance, it’s a good idea to check with your parents to see if you are covered under their insurance.
I’ve had an accident and the other driver won’t give me their details – what can I do?

It’s against the law not to provide details.  You should definitely make sure that you have the registration plate of the car.  If you have this information, then you can call the Department of Transport at 13 11 56[name of relevant road/transport body] and ask them for the name of the insurer for the car, or their contact details. You can also use their Vehicle Licence Expire Date Enquiry webpage.
I’m a learner driver – does insurance cover me for accidents?Am I covered as a learner driver if I had an accident?
This depends on your insurance company.  Many companies will cover you if you were supervised by a fully licenced driver at the time.  You should contact you or your parent’s insurance company to find out if you are covered.

This page was last updated 25 June 2015.


***************************************************************************************
  Insert text regarding ALL STATES here.
  You can choose to insert either:
     · Content that directly applies to ALL STATES of Australia.
     · A footnote that will be seen below the existing content of each state.
**************************************************************************************
*