Legal action

An action in negligence must usually be commenced by the aggrieved party within six years from the date of the accident, although it is possible if certain prerequisites are satisfied to extend the period in which an action can be commenced. For example, an infant or person of unsound mind who is injured may be able to commence an action more than six years from the date on which the right of action lapsed (e.g. Limitation of Actions Act 1958 in Victoria, and similar legislation in other states and territories).

Considering the possibility of an action being commenced some years after an accident and the fact that legal cases often take several years to come to a determination, it is advisable to retain all the information relating to an accident for a period of say nine years. This is especially so where the accident results in some personal injury. If a full report is made to the police, this will often be sufficient as the report should be retained by the police. Similarly, if an accident results in death, the evidence and findings of the Coroner’s Inquest will be recorded and may be obtained from the relevant public office.

It is advisable, however, to keep your own records. These should contain the full name, address and age of the injured party, date, place and time of the accident, names and addresses of all witnesses and a full account of events leading up to the accident, the accident itself and what occurred following. Signed statements should also be obtained from all witnesses if possible.