Hit & Run Car Accidents in BC - What You Need To Know
Leaving the scene of a collision is a criminal offence. Nonetheless, drivers sometimes flee the scene of an accident in a panic at the thought of having to pay for the damages, and in some cases, out of fear that they will be caught driving drunk, driving without insurance, or driving without a valid licence.
As reckless as this behaviour is, it sadly still happens, even when another person is involved and has been injured. It is important to understand what relief is available to you and how to report your claim, if you are injured in a hit and run collision.
Obtain All Information Possible About The Fleeing Vehicle And Driver
If you are in a situation where you can see the vehicle fleeing the scene, pay close attention to the details about the vehicle without chasing the driver in your own vehicle. If you chase the driver, you may put yourself and other drivers at risk, and fail to preserve evidence as to how the accident occurred.
Record the licence plate number and make, model and colour of the vehicle immediately, whether on your phone, in writing, or by photographs. Also record any marks, scrapes, bumper stickers, or other unique characteristics may help identify the car and driver. Look around for any witnesses and ask for their information. Even if you don’t have all the information that is ideal, keep a record of the information you have.
Make All Efforts To Determine the Identity Of The Driver
Section 24 BC’s Insurance (Vehicle) Act actually requires you to report what steps you took to ascertain the identity of the driver, in order to make a claim under the hit and run provisions of your own policy. If you have not taken reasonable steps to identify the driver, the coverage may be unavailable.
In the decision Holloway v. I.C.B.C. and Richmond Cabs and John Doe, 2007 BCCA 175 (CanLII), the BC Court of Appeal overturned a lower court decision that had allowed a plaintiff to access hit and run coverage, barring her from recovering under those provisions of her policy. The Court of Appeal found that the pedestrian plaintiff, Ms. Holloway, had made verbal communication with the driver of the vehicle that struck her, and that the vehicle had briefly stopped. Ms. Holloway did not provide evidence of making efforts to obtain information about the driver or the vehicle and, resultantly, she was unable to access hit and run coverage.
There are several steps you could take to obtain information about the hit and run driver. These steps include making online and/or print postings asking for witness information and asking others to keep a lookout for the vehicle, providing the details that you were able to obtain.
Identify all possible avenues to help ascertain the identity of the driver. If there are nearby retail stores or shops, ask the owners whether they have any security cameras capturing the roadway. If they do, you will want to seek to obtain the video footage. Many security cameras automatically erase after a set period of time, so it is best to seek this information immediately, and put the store or shop on notice that you will be seeking their footage. The police and/or your lawyer will be able to assist you in making the necessary production order, if necessary.
Notify The Police, ICBC And Speak To A Lawyer
Contact the police immediately. It is always preferable to have the police attend at the scene of the accident. It is important that evidence of how the accident occurred is recorded in a formal police report. Even where a driver flees the scene, who is at fault will still need to be determined in order to ascertain what coverage is available to you.
Further, having the police assist you in immediately investigating the accident will help you cover some of your bases regarding taking reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the driver. In the decision Morris v. Doe, 2011 BCSC 253 (CanLII), the court reiterated that although the onus is with the plaintiff to take steps to identify the driver, contacting the police to help investigate alleviates some of this burden.
It is best to call the police before any other person. If you have been injured, are concerned about what information that you provide to ICBC, or want to seek legal advice with respect to commencing to commence a claim, contact a personal injury lawyer at our Vancouver law firm immediately. You must report your accident to ICBC as soon as possible, ideally within 24-48 hours, and in any event, no later than 6 months.
Understand What Coverage Is Available To You
If you seek to invoke the hit and run provisions in your ICBC policy, $200,000 of coverage is available with respect to the liability of the third-party unidentified driver. While it seems unintuitive, it is important to be aware that ICBC will provide a defence to the unidentified driver, and will raise any defence available in opposition to your claim.
Where it is abundantly clear that you were not at fault in the collision, this may not be an issue. However, if you are found to be liable for the accident, the hit and run coverage may not kick in. One advantage is that the unidentified driver will be unavailable to testify in his or her own defence at trial.
In addition to the $200,000 available with respect to the hit and run, a top-up to $1,000,000 is available under your basic policy. In the case of a serious injury, medical expenses, loss of income, and other miscellaneous expenses can easily top $200,000.
The Vancouver CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS At Kenneth Cristall Law Corporation Address Handle & Run Accidents
It is always advisable to speak with a personal injury lawyer in the event that you are injured in a hit and run car accident. In Vancouver, Surrey, Langley, Coquitlam and Burnaby, speak to a car accident lawyer for your free consultation at 604-654-2250.