“I was injured in a hit and run accident”: what are my options?Apr 3 2018
Ordinarily, when you are in a car accident, you stop and exchange information with the other driver including getting their name, driver’s license number and insurance details. Then, you report the claim to ICBC and ICBC matches your information with the other driver’s particulars. If you have an injury claim, the other driver’s insurance coverage will provide you with the compensation you deserve.
Sometimes, however, the other driver fails to remain at the scene of the accident and it becomes what is known as a hit and run. There would appear to be no one against whom you can make a claim.
You Have Options
Under our scheme of insurance, the involvement of an unidentified driver does not spell the end of the line. Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act allows a remedy for injured motorists and passengers in hit and run accidents. It provides that if a person is injured or killed arising out of the use or operation of a vehicle in British Columbia and the names of the owner and/or driver of the vehicle cannot be established, that person – or his or her estate – may bring a claim against ICBC for injury, loss or damage as a nominal defendant.
Be aware that there are two main preconditions to a person’s right to bringing such a claim forward:
- First, notice has to be given to ICBC as soon as reasonably practical and, in any event, within six months after the accident.
- Second, a claim will not succeed unless it can be established that all reasonable efforts have been made by the parties to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver and/or owner of the offending vehicle.
What Are “Reasonable Efforts”
What constitutes “reasonable efforts” is often the subject of dispute between ICBC and claimants. ICBC is entitled to deny your claim if you have failed to make those reasonable efforts.
You do need to take steps to try and find out who the other driver and/or owner were. Such steps should include reporting the matter to the police in most cases. Other steps can include:
- Posting signs or notices at or near the accident site seeking witnesses to come forward.
- Placing ads in local newspapers, on Facebook or on Craigslist.
- Sometimes, it may be even appropriate and reasonable to canvas local businesses or residents to see if there is any available surveillance video that may have captured the accident itself or perhaps caught a glimpse of the offending vehicle or the driver.
Each case will turn on its own circumstances. You may never learn the identity of the unknown driver but even if you don’t, your claim may not be denied as long as you can show that you have made reasonable efforts of inquiry. It is when you fail to take reasonable steps to identify an unknown driver that your claim will be denied.
If you are involved in an accident involving an unidentified motorist, call RDM Lawyers LLP and ask to speak with one of our lawyers who may be able to help.