by Peter Buxton, QC Read Peter’s Blog here
You just had a serious car collision and it was not your fault. You pull your car over and search for your insurance papers. You look up and see the other driver leaving the scene. What do you do?
First, if you can get the licence plate number of the other vehicle do so. Write it down, together with the make, model and colour of the other vehicle.
Then, call 9-1-1 and report the accident and tell the operator that the other driver left the scene. Do not chase after the other vehicle, you may be dazed and not capable of driving safely.
Get out of your car and look around for anyone who may have witnessed the collision. Speak with them and write down their name and contact information and what they saw. You can give this information to the police and ICBC to help in the investigation of the hit and run.
If you are able, quickly prepare a diagram of the scene and how the collision happened. This will also help the police and ICBC.
Am I Able to Make a Claim for My Injuries and the Damage to My Car?
If you were involved in a collision on a roadway in B.C. and you cannot determine the identity of the driver that caused the accident you may be able to claim compensation directly from ICBC. Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act provides for payment for damages for those who are victims of hit and run collisions provided that:
- the loss occurred on a highway in B.C.;
- the injury, death or property loss occurred during the use or operation of a motor vehicle, and
- the names of the owner and driver of the other vehicle are not ascertainable.
You will need to be aware of the time limitations for giving ICBC notice of the hit and run collision and the requirement that you take reasonable steps to determine the identity of the unknown motorist. Reasonable steps can include putting a legible sign at the scene of the collision asking that witnesses contact you if they saw the accident and perhaps putting an advertisement in the local newspaper asking for witnesses to come forward. Obviously you need to report the hit and run to the local police department so they can investigate.
Will ICBC Help Me to Identify the Other Driver and Tell Me About Section 24?
You cannot rely on ICBC to tell you of your obligations under Section 24 and so you should consult a lawyer for this advice. Many personal injury lawyers will consult with you for no fee. So, the good news is that you can make a claim directly from ICBC for compensation in a hit and run situation but, you must be very careful to follow the provisions of Section 24 requiring that you make reasonable effort to identify the unknown owner and driver.