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How to Conduct the “Nommo Inquisition”



A lot of cyclists feel helpless after a hit and run because they are unable to identify the vehicle involved...

EMILY BILLIAU //  Australia's Leading Lawyer for Cyclists

Perhaps the driver fled the scene of the accident or the rego plate is too blurry to read on your camera footage.

Your bike is trashed, you're in pain, and you're all on your own.

So who do you turn to?



Get the police involved early

If you are unable to identify the vehicle involved, it important that you act you promptly.

You should take steps to urgently report the incident to police.

Critically though, if police are unable to identify the vehicle that caused the accident, you may still be able to pursue civil action.

Your claim would proceed against the state insurer, the Nominal Defendant.

Who is The Nominal Defendant?

The Nominal Defendant is a statutory corporation established under the Motor Accident Insurance Act 1994 (MAIA).

It serves as an insurer of last resort.

One of it’s purpose is to provide access to compensation to persons injured as a result of the negligent acts of drivers of unidentified motor vehicles.

Unfortunately, claims against the Nominal Defendant can involve quite complex legal issues.

The legislative and procedural requirements that apply to bringing a claim are strict.

To get the police to take action, you have to take action. Getting the police involved early will help you later on.  Make sure you note the officers and the station that you spoke with.  If you need a hand with what to say then hit the big orange button below.



To succeed in a claim against the Nominal Defendant, you will need to be able to establish that you have undertaken due search and enquiry to identify the vehicle involved.

EMILY BIILIAU //  Australia's leading Lawyer for Cyclists

What is the “Nommo Inquisition”?

Like all legal terms “due search and enquiry” can be vague. 

Lawyers refer to claims against the Nominal Defendent colloquially as a “Nommo claim”.

...and if your claim is to succeed you need to fully exhaust all avenues YOURSELF to identify the vehicle. 

You need to carry out the “Nommo Inquisition”.

In general terms, “due search and enquiry” means:

  • everything that you can reasonably do to
  • attempt to locate and
  • find the identity of the vehicle
  • which caused the accident.

And the best advice is to overcook your efforts….leave nothing to chance. 

And if you adopt this “nothing left to chance’ mindset you will turn “due search and inquiry’ into ‘The Nommo Inquistion’.

Because the phrase ‘due search and inquiry’ is vague the effort required to satisfy the ‘Nommo’ can vary dramatically from case to case.

Depending on….

  • the place,
  • time and
  • nature of the accident

….due search and enquiry may be found sufficient in one matter, and insufficient in another.

The first step in deciding whether to locate the unidentified driver is to ask yourself  "Am I doing the right thing?" Take the poll below to see what others think.



In the matter of R –v- Nominal Defendant, a truck was driving on the Pacific Highway, not far from a particular Truck Stop, at approximately 6.00pm in the evening, when one of the wheels of the B-Double truck detached from the truck, striking the barrier and colliding with Mr R’s vehicle.

The truck did not notice that the wheel had become detached and did not stop. They were also unaware that an incident had occurred.

In an attempt to identify the truck the claimant did the following:

1. Placed an advertisement in a local newspaper;

2. Put up Truck Stop Notices, within a five kilometre radius of the incident site.

In such circumstances, it was accepted, given the

  • time,
  • locality and
  • nature of the incident

that the due search and enquiry was reasonable and the Nominal Defendant accepted that the vehicle was unidentified.

Community notice boards can be an integral part of your 'inquisition' campaign'.  They need to be local to where the incident was.  Putting up a notice on a public board in Sweden probably won't help your case if the accident happened in Birdsville.



In the matter of L –v- Nominal Defendant, an incident occurred on a local suburban Street in Ashfield New South Wales, where

  • a pedestrian was
  • struck by a vehicle
  • at approximately 4.00pm and
  • the vehicle did not stop to render assistance or provide details.

In this matter, newspaper advertisements were undertaken and the Nominal Defendant identified that:

“such enquiry was not reasonable and determined that “due search and enquiry” had not been fulfilled”


It was suggested that in such a circumstance, given the time and place of incident, a door knock and postal drop would have rendered further assistance.

It is noted that such enquiries were then undertaken by the claimant, resulting in no witnesses being found.

Accordingly, upon forwarding further information to the Nominal Defendant, it was ultimately determined that “due search and enquiry” had been fulfilled.

It is clear from these two examples, that “due search and enquiry” has no one meaning.

Door knocking doesn't have to be hard, nor should it be intimidating. Most people will be happy to help you if they saw something.  People want to live in safe neighborhoods so will generally do anything they can to help a victim of a hit and run that happened in their street.  If you need a plan or a script of what to ask for click on the big orange button below.



Here is a list of questions you should ask yourself if you are trying to locate an unidentified vehicle:
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    Have I placed advertisements in local and state newspapers?
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    Have I placed advertisements on social media (targeting only the streets I need)?
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    Have I door-knocked-the-block?
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    Have I done a letter box drop in the area calling for witnesses?
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    Have I placed a notice on a public noticeboard calling for witnesses?
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    Have I retrieved red-light-camera footage from the council if the accident happened on such an intersection?
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    Have I retrieved CCTV footage from surrounding businesses?
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    Have I taken witness statements from onlookers or passers by?
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    Have I examined my bike camera footage to reveal other cars that were close by that I could get as witnesses?
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    Have I taken  partial plate information to the police for them to scan and search?
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    Have I engaged a private investigator to help me?
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    Have I engaged  an engineer to prove the involvement of a vehicle in the incident (if the vehicle fled the scene and cannot be identified)?
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    Have I obtained medical evidence to confirm that they injuries were likely sustained in the way described (the involvement of a motor vehicle)?

Whilst this list seems overwhelming, a slip-shod approach to finding the offending driver could cost you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost compensation.

EMILY BILLIAU //  Australia's Leading Lawyer for Cyclists

The right way is to leave no stone unturned and follow the checklist above.

The wrong way is to leave the investigation in the hands of others and/or do a half-way job.

It is simply not worth the risk.

Cyclist proves police evidence is unreliable

The Facts (Nominal Defendant v Rooskov)

On 18 May 2005, Nigel rode his mountain bike to the local bowls club. Whilst at the bowls club he drank approximately 6 to 8 schooners of beer. Between 3.30pm and 4.30pm that afternoon he left the bowls club on his bike to ride home. He was not wearing a helmet.

It was a fine sunny day and Nigel was riding along the left-hand side of the roadway. He was riding downhill on a straight section of the road. As he was riding along, he heard a whistling noise from behind him, a screech of brakes and was then struck from behind. A vehicle hit the rear, right-hand side or back of the bike (Nigel was not sure which). This caused him to careen off the road. Nigel was thrown from his bike and landed in a ditch. He was knocked unconscious and sustained severe injuries to his back in the accident.

Nigel was found by people passing by who called the ambulance and police. He was transported to Wollongong Hospital for treatment and was subsequently diagnosed with a severe concussion and post-traumatic amnesia.

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The Decision

One of the main issues at the trial was whether Nigel had been struck by an unidentified motor vehicle. It was argued by the Nominal Defendant that he lost control of his bicycle and ran off the road.

Nigel initially reported that he was struck by a vehicle. This was noted in the ambulance records, police records and initial hospital records. However, at the hospital his memory of the accident became vague and he expressed doubt about what had happened. He reported that to nursing staff, doctors and the police.

A police officer attended the scene of the accident that evening. He examined the scene and took a number of photographs. He also took photographs of the bike and noted there was no damage sustained to the bike. He did find skid marks located at the accident scene but dismissed them as being unrelated to the accident. The officer gave evidence at the trial that he was of the view that Nigel had not been hit by a motor vehicle.

Nigel’s father, a retired police officer, attended the accident scene two days after the accident and undertook his own investigations. That included taking a detailed sketch plan of the accident site with details of all relevant measurements of the area and the skid marks located at the accident scene. He also reported that the skid marks were very dark at that time and faded over the course of the next week.

Nigel gave evidence at the trial in which he maintained he had been hit by a vehicle. This was despite the fact that he later lost his memory whilst in the hospital and became unclear on what had happened.

Despite the evidence of the police officer at the trial, the judge held the following view:

“The difficulty I have with the skid marks is that they were consistent in location and presence and time with the sworn evidence of the plaintiff and consistent with versions he had given at various times….”.

Nigel’s evidence, the records given to the various medical personnel and the skid marks, persuaded the judge that Nigel had been hit by an unidentified vehicle. The judge awarded damages to Nigel for his injuries in the sum of $586,781.24 but deducted 5% of his damages because he was not wearing a helmet.

The Nominal Defendant appealed the judge’s decision. They argued that Nigel was not hit by an unidentified vehicle. The court of appeal did not agree with the Nominal Defendant and held that the original assessment made by the trial judge was correct.

Nigel was successful despite the fact he sustained a head injury, had a poor recollection of events after the accident and the investigations undertaken by police were not favourable to his case.

Cycle Law Opinion

The trial judge did not accept the evidence of the police officer at the trial. The fact that Nigel’s father also investigated the accident scene shortly after the accident assisted Nigel to win his case.

Nigel’s loss of memory in relation to the accident whilst he was in the hospital was not enough to persuade the judge that Nigel was incorrect when he initially stated he was hit by a vehicle. There was sufficient evidence contained in the various records to show that he did initially report he was hit by a vehicle. Further, the location of the skid marks at the accident scene were consistent with Nigel’s version of events.

Head injuries in accidents are more common than you might think and memory loss can be a side effect of a head injury. However, this does not mean you will lose your case even if there are no witnesses to the accident.

The graph below is the percentage of the types of injuries sustained in accidents from 1 July 2007 to 31 December 2016, including head injuries.

When head injuries are compared with other types of injuries they actually represent the fifth most common type of injury sustained in accidents.

The  Consequences

 The trial and subsequent appeal of Nigel’s case resulted in a good outcome for Nigel.  This case could very well have been unsuccessful if the police officer’s version of events had been believed by the judge.

The important thing to take from this decision is the importance of obtaining your own evidence relating to the circumstances of the accident.  Do not rely wholly on the investigations undertaken by the police. 

The outcome of this case is proof that despite the fact you may have sustained a head injury and do not have a good recollection of the accident you can still succeed in a claim.  However, to ensure success, you need to take appropriate steps to gather all relevant evidence to support your case as early as possible.  The best way to do that is to obtain legal representation as soon as possible after the accident so that your legal representatives can undertake any necessary investigations on your behalf.

Case Study – Cyclist v Unidentified Vehicle

Cordin v Nominal Defendant


Cordin v Nominal Defendant is a decision out of the District Court of NSW. The Court awarded the Plaintiff cyclist $350,000 in damages for the injuries he sustained after he fell from his bicycle. It was alleged by the Plaintiff cyclist that as he was applying his brakes in the course of coasting to negotiate his way around a series of potholes, a motor vehicle struck his bicycle from behind. He was thrown forward onto the roadway and sustained a head injury, compression fractures to his thoracic spine, injuries to both hands, wrists and knees.

Despite attempts, the Plaintiff cyclist was unable to identify the motor vehicle involved and ultimately proceeded with a claim against a Nominal Defendant.

The Nominal Defendant fervently defended the claim. The basis of their defence was that the Plaintiff cyclist sustained injuries after striking a pothole in the road. They denied the involvement of a motor vehicle.

The key issue of determination by the Court was whether a motor vehicle was in fact involved.

The Plaintiff led evidence from an expert that the damage occasioned to his bicycle and the injuries he sustained would have been occasioned in the circumstances he alleged occurred (that is, being struck from behind by a motor vehicle.)

The Defendant led expert evidence to the contrary. Their evidence was that the injuries would have resulted from striking a pothole.

The evidence from the Plaintiff’s expert was ultimately preferred and the finding was made by the Court that a motor vehicle was involved. The Court held that the driver of that vehicle had been negligent for failing to keep a proper lookout of the roadway ahead (in order to appropriately deal with foreseeable risks) and awarded the Plaintiff cyclist damages in the order of $350,000.00.