Making a claim

Information about making a claim against another party to recover the cost of repairing your vehicle and other losses.

  • Time Limit

    Time Limit

    If you can't resolve your dispute and you decide you want to start a Court case to recover the cost of repairing your vehicle, you must commence legal proceedings within six years of the date of the accident.​ 

Identifying the other party

If you had an accident with someone who was driving another person's car, you will need to decide who is responsible.  

A driver may not always be the person who ends up paying for the damage. In some cases, the owner of the vehicle may be responsible.

For more information, see Who is responsible?

The other driver should have provided you with their name and contact details at the scene of the accident.

For more information, see What to do after an accident, in Car accidents.

If the other driver did not give you their details and the accident was reported to the police, you may be able to get a copy of the motor vehicle accident report.

If the police came to the accident or the accident was reported to the police, you may be able to get a copy of the motor vehicle accident report.

You can apply for the report by completing an online application through the NSW Police Force Community Portal on the NSW police force website. 

You will need:

  • Your current, valid email address
  • COPS event number
  • Incident date
  • To pay the $102.80 (as at 1 july 2023) application fee via credit card on the secure online portal.

The motor vehicle accident report will usually be sent to you within 10 to 15 working days.

The police will not reduce or cancel the fee in cases of financial hardship.

Normally, a report will have the following information:

  • The name of the police officer in charge at the time the accident was reported
  • The place where the accident happened
  • The names and contact details of the drivers involved in the accident
  • Registration numbers of the cars or motor vehicles in the accident
  • A summary of the accident
  • The date and time of the accident.

Sometimes drawings of the location may also be included.

If you were unable to obtain the other driver’s details, you can apply to Transport for NSW for that information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (GIPA Act). 

Making an application under GIPA does not mean you will get access to information. The agency has to consider the relevant public interest considerations in favour and against releasing the information and will consult with the other party before making a decision to release any information.

For more information about how to apply to Transport for NSW for information under the GIPA act, see Access to information on the Transport for NSW website. 

If you have a court case related to your accident, you may be able to apply for a subpoena to get the other driver’s details.   

Before you apply for a subpoena, you should get legal advice.

For more information, see Subpoenas.

Letter of demand

A letter of demand is a letter to the other party asking for money to be paid. It warns the other party that if this is not done you may start a court case to recover the money they owe you.

You can phone the other driver, send them an email or sms, or write them a letter. Whichever method you choose, it is important to make sure you communicate clearly, setting out how much you are claiming and why you believe they were at fault in the car accident.

Before you send a letter of demand to the driver or owner of the other car, you need to make sure you have their name and address. If you do not have the correct contact details for the other party, you won't be able to c​learly communicate your claim to them. If you end up going to court, y​ou may not be able to serve (give) court documents on the other party and this will cost you money and time.

If your car was damaged in a car accident and you believe that the other driver was at-fault, you may wish to make a claim against them to recover the cost of repairs and other losses. It is important to clearly communicate to the other party the amount you are claiming and that you believe they were at-fault.

By sending a simple letter setting out your claim, you may convince them to pay the money and therefore avoid the need to start a case in court. This will save you time and money. If you end up having to go to court, the letter is evidence of you asking the other driver to pay you the cost of repairing your vehicle. 

Sample: Sample letter of demand – car accident

When writing your letter, you should include: 

  • ​​The date
  • Your full name
  • Your contact details so the other party can respond to you, for example, your telephone number, email or postal address.  

Your letter of demand should tell the other party: 

  • ​You believe they were at-fault in the car accident 
  • The cost of repairing the damage to your car
  • Other losses you are claiming, such as hire car costs
  • ​The date when you want them to pay you the money by
  • How the money should be repaid, for example, by bank cheque or deposited into your bank account 
  • Legal action may be started if the claim is not paid by the time specified in the letter 
  • They may be liable (responsible) to pay your costs and interest on the money claimed.

Once you have written the letter: ​

  • ​​Make a copy to keep for your records
  • Send the original by post or email, or hand it to the person 
  • Keep a record of where, when and how you delivered the letter.

After the other party gets your letter of demand they may:

  • ​Agr​ee with your claim and make arrangements to pay you
  • Deny they were at-fault or say they were only partly at-fault
  • Ask for more information
  • Negotiate with you by offering to pay you a lesser amount
  • Ask if you want to go to mediation
  • Do nothing. 

If the other party has third party property or comprehensive insurance they may decide to make a claim on their insurance policy. In that case, the other party should give you a claim number so you can contact their insurer directly. 

For more information about settling your claim, see settling your dispute.​

If you can't reach an agreement with the other party, you may need to decide whether to start a case in court. It is a good idea to try and resolve your dispute with the other party, before going to court. For more information, see Going to court.