What is a hit and run accident? And if I’m involved in a hit and run accident, am I still entitled to compensation for my injuries and loss?
Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Regulation deals with accidents where bodily injury, death or property damage occurs in British Columbia and the at fault motorist cannot be identified. These are commonly referred to as “hit and run” accidents. As the at fault motorist cannot be identified, ICBC is sued in his or her place.
However, in order to be entitled to compensation for your hit and run accident, certain requirements must be met. These include:
- (1) The loss must have occurred on a highway in British Columbia. A highway includes all public streets, roads, trails, lanes, bridges, trestles, tunnels, ferry landings and approaches, and any other public way;
- (2) The bodily injury, death or property damage must have arisen out of the “use or operation of a motor vehicle”; and
- (3) The names of both the owner and driver must not have been ascertainable or, if the owner is not liable, the name of the driver must not have been ascertainable. This requires that the claimant make all reasonable efforts to identify the owner and driver, or the driver if the owner is not liable.
Hit and run accidents involve special rules for notice. ICBC must be notified in writing of the hit and run accident as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event within six months after the accident. This usually involves the completion of a form.
LIMITS TO COMPENSATION
The limit for all claims arising out of a hit and run accident is $200,000. However, if a claimant has underinsured motorist protection (UMP) coverage (starting at $1 million mandatory coverage for those who fit the definition of “insured”), that claimant may be entitled to recover compensation over $200,000.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM INVOLVED IN A HIT AND RUN ACCIDENT?
- (1) Report accident
- (2) Reasonable efforts
You should ensure that you report the accident to the police within 48 hours of discovering the damage from a hit and run accident. ICBC is not liable to an owner for damage to a vehicle if the owner does not report the accident to the police within the stipulated time. The owner has to obtain a police file number and when asked to, report that file number to ICBC.
You have an obligation to make all reasonable efforts to find the identity of the at fault motorist. ICBC does not have an obligation to do this for you.
Reasonable efforts will depend on the circumstances of your accident, and may include putting up flyers and/or an advertisement in the newspaper seeking witnesses. Reasonable efforts should be made both at the time of the accident and in the days and weeks following the accident. It is important to keep notes of the accident, including the make, model and colour of the car, licence plate number, as well as characteristics of the driver of the vehicle, to assist with your investigation. Simply calling the police to report the accident and/or informing ICBC of the accident may not be enough to maintain your claim.
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident and feel that you are entitled to compensation, you may have a legal problem we can help you with. Please contact us at (250) 374-4463 for more information on how we can assist you with your claim.