How to Prove 3rd Car's Fault in Pile-up

While driving in the middle lane on a highway on a nice sunny day, all of a sudden a Mercedes in front of me comes to a full stop, making me do emergency braking. I come to a stop and while stationary, an old Toyota behind me smashes into me and pushes my car into the Mercedes. My Honda Civic has the most damage, coolant leaking out, front bumper falling off, car smashed from front and rear. The Mercedes has some surface damage on the rear bumper but not too much, and Toyota hasn't got much damage either but its airbags deployed. My car is the most affected and had to be towed.

Crash order: Mercedes <— Honda Civic <— Toyota

The Mercedes has comprehensive insurance. I have 3rd party. The Toyota has nothing, as the driver said. The Toyota driver gave his phone number but didn't give any further details, he's not picking up my phone calls and blocked me on WhatsApp. I took a photo of his car with the license plate (shows registered).

As there were no injuries, the police were informed but didn't attend the scene. Even though it happened on a weekend with lots of cars around, no one came forward as a witness.

I understand the Mercedes' insurance would be claiming from my insurance, but what do I do? How can I prove it's all the Toyota's fault and how do I make him pay for the loss of my car ($4-$5k market value)? Can I sue him to get some money back? How do I make the Mercedes deal with him too so my premiums wouldn't go up?

I also don't know what to do with the car as it's now at a scrapyard, towing to which was around $370, and every day the car stays there costs about $27 a day.

Lot's of questions, really frustrated and still in a bit of a shock. Would really appreciate any help.

Car photos

The police got in touch with the Toyota driver and provided me with his contact details. Despite that, he went into hiding and continues to ignore my calls and messages. He has an overseas driver's license.

I got my car out from the holding yard - it still runs fine. Just parked it nearby, now waiting for my insurer to come back to me. My policy includes up to 5k payout in case of an accident with an uninsured driver.

The towies charged me $400. Bastards. I don't understand why they didn't offer me to tow the car to my place instead of their holding yard. And given the car is drivable, I didn't need their service at all. They are vultures making money on people who can't think clearly due to being in a state of shock.


  • The Toyota driver gave his phone number but didn't give any further details

    If a driver refuses to or fails to provide their required particulars (such as name, address and details of the vehicle owner) you can call the police. Police will attend the scene in these circumstances even if it is not a major road accident.

    • Went to the police afterwards and they said if the driver provided his phone number it's considered OK. They said to come back only if I won't be able to reach him.

      • +79 votes

        Go back to cops and tell them you can't reach the driver.

        • That's not a good look for the Camry driver, so at least some evidence.

          Other than that, it'd be good to prove that the damage to the rear was caused by a higher speed collision than the front. But that looks difficult from the photos.

          • @Scrooge McDuck: Na, Toyota's airbags deployed, plus only minor bumper damage to the Merc. That surely is evidence you were hit in the back a lot harder than the Merc. What happened to the Toyota afterwards? There is no way it would have been driveable if it hit you hard enough to fire the airbags.

            Next time take LOTS of photos. And insist on seeing (and photoing) the others' D/Ls, else call the coppers. A phone number is not enough no matter what the copper says.

            Have you spoken to your TPP insurer yet? Even if they're not going to pay you anything they'll generally give you advice what to do next.

            • @derrida derider: Nobody would be taking a photo of my Driver Licence in such a situation, but I would (of course) provide the information required by law.

              • @Drewbo: You don't even need to show your licence (or provide a phone number).

                The driver of every vehicle involved in an accident must:

                Stop at the scene of the accident
                Give their details including their name and address, the name and address of the vehicle’s owner, and the vehicle's registration number (or any other information necessary to identify the vehicle) to any other driver involved, any person injured (or their representative) or the owner of any property that has been damaged.



                  • @queer dog geyfrog: Yes I would also request to see it.
                    But they don't have to show you and there is nothing you can do about it. If they give false details you still have the rego of the car to follow up with insurance/police.

            • @derrida derider:

              What happened to the Toyota afterwards? There is no way it would have been driveable if it hit you hard enough to fire the airbags.

              It drives away in one of the videos…

            • @derrida derider:

              And insist on seeing (and photoing) the others' D/Ls, else call the coppers. A phone number is not enough no matter what the copper says.

              You have no legal right to see their licence. I agree that a phone number is not enough, in fact, it is not even one of the legal requirements.

      • Did you even try contacting this person? Does the number even exist?

      • You are lucky…. the cops in Victoria told me after an accident, they only act on reports at the scene of an accident.. After the fact and they don't want to know about it…

    • Surely OP got a description of the (Toyota) car and registration number??????

  • Have you spoken to your insurance company yet?

    • Maybe I misunderstood something, but when I rang them up they told me as I don't have comprehensive insurance I can't make any claims.

      • Oh no. You do have third party property insurance, and not just compulsory third party?

        • I have third party property insurance from Budget Direct.

          • @bsider: Then they will deal with the car in front. That's what you pay them for.

            If the person who hit you had zero insurance, they likely have no money. You will chase them, the insurance company will chase them, it will all go to court, and they will have to pay $5 a week for 30 years or something ridiculous.

            • @brendanm: Yeah, that I understand. But then my premiums go up as they'd consider me at fault.

              • @bsider: What are your other options? Have you spoken to the Merc driver? Did they say they heard a bang before the bang of you hitting their car?

                Third party is cheap even if your premiums go up, I'd be more worried about the fact you are going to have to be buying yourself another car.

                • @brendanm: The Merc driver is cooperative and said they agree the Toyota driver pushed me into their Merc. Would that be of a help?

                  • @bsider: Has the Merc driver made a claim with their insurance company? If they tell them what happened, I imagine they will chase the third guy, not you. I'd be trying to get it in writing from the Merc driver that they heard the bang of you being hit, before they were hit.

                    It's unfortunately a pretty rubbish situation, just be thankful you have third party, so worst case scenario is paying your excess, and having them sort it all.

                  • @bsider:

                    The Merc driver is cooperative and said they agree the Toyota driver pushed me into their Merc. Would that be of a help?

                    Yes! That's quite conclusive. Start recording all of your phone calls with all parties from now on so you have concrete evidence to point to in case anyone changes their tune. You can't trust insurance companies either.

              • +6 votes

                @bsider: I'd much rather my premiums go up then have a broken car accruing $27 a day in storage

              • @bsider: You are not at fault…. why are you so apprehensive all of a sudden

                • @OzHunterNSW: How do you come to that conclusion?
                  Have you heard from the Toyota driver and the Merc driver
                  They might have entirely different points of view,
                  So really you only have OPs story and thats not enought to make a call.

                  Besides OP is definitey resposible for any damage to the front of the vehicle.

            • @brendanm: If OP plans on being alive in 30 years time, it may be worth it.

            • @brendanm: Can someone here explain to me how this is possible, that people with no money and no insurance can have a car to drive ? Nobody should not be allowed to drive without proper insurance.

            • @brendanm: If you even get that, I'd call it a win

          • @bsider: @bsider I was just checking Budget Direct 3rd party property only Insurance, it does says it covers

            Damage by an uninsured driver - Up to $5,000

            Can you check your policy?

      • You can make a claim for the damage to the Merc in front of you
        Nothing more

  • -2 votes

    You contact your insurance

    /end thread

  • Should have spent less time taking photos and more time getting the details of the Camry driver.

    You are pretty much screwed now. Minimise your losses and stop paying for the car storage. Your only recourse is claiming directly from the camry driver through the small claims court, which is unlikely as you do not have their details.

    *not legal advice, just OzBargain insurance helpline genetal advice.

    • mmm genital advice

    • OP can chase their details through the rego - go back to the coppers, say he's refusing contact. Failing to exchange D/L details after an accident is an offense.

      Not to rub it in but you must have been in shock or something not to demand it, ESPECIALLY if he said he had no insurance. It was a similar slipup for the Merc driver, BTW. Our Toyota friend may not even have a current D/L, or may be suspended; that would explain why he didn't offer it.

      Unfortunately your chances of extracting significant money from this deadbeat still aren't great, especially if the Merc's insurer wants to jump in line ahead of you. But I think you should keep going to try and stop him repeating this low act on someone else.

  • Yeah OP did something wrong, should've grab that driver full details such as license, seems you failed to do so and thats gonna be putting you in a sticky situation

    • Most states provide information on what is legally required, and they usually state you need to provide your name, address, rego, and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle if that is not you. You don't even need to provide a phone number, and you certainly don't need to show your licence.

      Not saying it isn't a good idea to ask to see the licence, but do not think it is your legal right.

  • +9 votes

    OP, be mindful of whiplash or injury to yourself considering the force of the impact. It may occur over the next day or so, head to a GP if so. If the Toyota is actually Victorian registered (ie. they're not stolen plates), the Victorian TAC will cover your medical bills (yes, even though the accident happened in NSW).

  • The Mercedes has comprehensive insurance. I have 3rd party. The Toyota has nothing, as the driver said.

    If there was a definition of screwed, this would be it.

    Third party property only protects others. You're paying a premium to get other people back on the road while you walk until you can afford the repair/replacement.

    What will happen: Your insurance will pay for the Mercedes, then they will chase the Toyota drivers for that money (they'll probably get $5 a week from him). If you want to see a dime for the replacement for your car, you need to be the luckiest person in the world. So much so that the Toyota driver not only can afford to pay for your car (What do you think the chances are, since they can't afford to own insurance themselves) but is willing to pay for it or sue (at which point, will they have money to pay so you'll probably be out of pocket for both costs?).

    If your car is written off, sell it for scrap now.

    Let this be a lesson for you and others, if you care about your car, comprehensive insurance is your best option.

    • Do I need to make some damage assessment report before selling the car for scrap to show that in court?

      • What constitutes a write-off isn't something that I know much about. I'd assume some sort of quote to repair would suffice and if the value of the repair exceeds the current value of the vehicle, it would be written off.

        I was in an accident early last year and the repair price exceeded the price I paid for the car, but my insurer repaired it and the insurance of the other party footed the bill.

        • Comprehensive insurance makes things much easier :( I just don't understand how to get a quote to repair if the car is at a scrapyard and not roadworthy.

      • It is evidence…. what is going through your head… you wait until the insurer conducts a FULL inspection. Then you have the report.

        Are you OK…. you do not sound OK. Maybe you =need to see your doctor.

  • Camry braked super hard going by the impact damage (and side indicator fell out too)

    • I feel that my Honda took the most impact, acting as a cushion for the Toyota. Hence they didn't get as much damage as me.

      • My point being that their damage is very high up so were braking hard and possibly lifted your car up slightly.

        They were probably on the phone or tailgating.

  • +10 votes

    OP, you are not having much luck it seems.

    All the best.

  • At the very least go back to the police and say that the driver did not provide you with anything more than a phone number, and refused contact. Hopefully they can give help you since you have the rego plate (not sure if they are allowed to provide you with the driver's personal details though).

    Also check the PDS of your insurance policy, some third party insurance actually cover some of your own vehicle's costs for a not-at-fault claim (e.g. up to $5,000). Although given it is with Budget Direct, the chances may be slimmer on this one.

    Good luck. I hate it when drivers do not do the right thing and provide details, or be a coward and run away when they are in the wrong. If they cannot afford at least third party insurance, they should not be driving.

  • if you are able to identify the driver, your insurance might have cover up to $5000 or so when an uninsured driver hits you

    • Up to $5000 but how do they determine the current value of the car?

      • i assume it's just the cost of repairs?

      • @bsider

        they are an insurance company , they have many ways of determining the value of a car (both destroyed and undamaged)

        but the reality of the situation is ,

        You got a 2008 Honda Civic Sedan , Redbook already gives your car a market value of under $3700 but up to $5500 for private sales , after a quick search there are several identical cars in NSW for sale on carsales that range from $4500-$12000 at the uppermost end so based on that information alone you might be able to present that to your insurer and get some cash towards your car (if they cover you for an uninsured driver that hits you that is , i know NRMA does but not all insurance companies do so i would check that out as soon as you can)

        Your cars actual worth might be worth more then $5k depending on its pre-crash condition but if you actually get $5000 back if its possible by your insurance company then take it and count your lucky stars, once you go back to the police obtain a police report event # and give that to your insurance company and see how you go.

        Besides some of the obvious things that should have occurred , people forget that when people are involved in a motor accident people go into shock and are not "thinking clearly" and at 100% capacity to deal with things until some time after the fact so people on Ozbargain need to lighten up a bit , we are all human at the end of the day. Monkeys in metal cages with wheels propelling down the road.

        Bsider , unfortunately you have to take this as a life lesson learnt and be grateful you weren't seriously injured , it is a shame about the whole situation and your car but my personal advice for when you get back on the road , get full comprehensive insurance and a dash-cam front to rear and give a little more of a buffer to the car in front.

        Wish you all the best.

      • 3rd party fire and theft. The other vehicle is fully covered. You actually are covered for possibly $3,000 - $5,000… this is what uninformed people fail to understand who drive cheaper vehicle and pay full comprehensive insurance to only get 5k if that.

        You are covered for about 3 - 5k

        • Minus the insurance excess.

          Is there a way to sue that Toyota guy to recoup the difference between the insurance payout and the market price of the car? Plus other charges like towing? Is there someone who provides a car market price report that can be used in court?

          • @bsider:

            1. Send him a letter of demand.
            2. Complete a statement of claim at the Small Claims Division of the Local Court.
            3. Serve him with the statement of claim.
            4. Attend court prepared with all your evidence including on all the losses you have incurred.
            • @Scrooge McDuck: ^

              I'd say first go back to the police and request that an event be reported - the other driver of the accident (Toyota Camry) either provided false details after an accident or is unreachable after several attempts to contact.

              All the police will need is the rego number, make/model/colour which looks like you were able to gather. Provide them with the Merc driver as a witness. You'll provide a statement which is recorded and also any possible injuries sustained, might be worthwhile going to your GP to discuss any pain (neck/back etc.). You might feel ok, but concussion and other pains might not be so obvious.

              You'll have an event number from the police which shows your report, remember it's an offence to report false/misleading information to the police. The other driver will get a visit from the police and will need to provide a statement as well, so if the other driver decides to embellish the event, then they are digging a hole for themselves. There's also the Merc driver who may have to provide a statement to police. When 2 stories match up and one doesn't.

              All of the above unfortunately won't replace your car, but without due process, we'd all be driving with no insurance and doing what we want. It's the first steps to justice. The other driver will eventually have to pay one way or another, if only to prevent them from possibly doing this again to someone else on the road.

              You'll be surprised, the police will take it seriously and you will get a call back from them possibly months later following up on it.

              Best case scenario, the police visit him and he decides to be cooperative. Worse case scenario, the other driver can be charged for not providing details (this isn't taken so lightly as the max charge is 20years). I'm sure it's not worth getting a criminal record for the other driver.