If someone causes you damage in an accident and then leaves the scene without exchanging information, there are certain actions you must take to protect your rights. This applies if your vehicle, motorcycle or bicycle was hit, or if you were struck as a pedestrian.
In British Columbia, Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act applies when there is bodily injury, death or property damage caused by an “unidentified motorist” (hit and run) on a public street in British Columbia.
The Insurance (Vehicle) Act requires that you inform ICBC in writing that there was a hit and run as soon as possible after the accident. ICBC requires the notification so they can try and identify who was responsible for the accident, and as time passes valuable evidence may be lost. You should also report the hit and run accident to the police as soon as possible.
In order to protect your right to make a claim against the unidentified motorist, you must be able to prove that you made reasonable efforts to try to identify the hit and run driver. This can include posting notices asking for witnesses to the accident to come forward, and posting a classified ad in a newspaper that circulates in the area where the accident occurred asking for witnesses to contact you. It is important to keep records proving your efforts to try and identify the hit and run driver. Usually, our clients who were victims of hit and run accidents will have us perform these searches for them.
Also, it is important that you report to ICBC as much information as you can regarding the hit and run accident including such things as the location of the accident, a description of the other vehicle and its driver (if you saw the other vehicle and driver), a license plate number (even if you only were able to get part of the number), and any other information that may help the authorities attempt to locate the other driver. If you were able to obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident, it would be very beneficial.
If there were no witnesses and the other driver cannot be identified, a law suit can still be brought against the unidentified driver through ICBC. However, in a normal action the settlement is paid through the other driver’s insurance, and as such the limit that could be paid is dependant on how much insurance that driver purchased. In unidentified motorist actions, the limit that can be paid is $2 million. If your injuries and property losses exceed that amount, there is provision to make a claim under your own insurance as part of your underinsured motorist protection.
If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, you should contact our offices immediately for a free initial consultation. We can help you go through the steps to ensure you comply with the requirements of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act and preserve your right to make a claim for any injury or property damage that occurred as a result of the hit and run. Contact us at www.einfeldlaw.com or (250) 712-0001.
D. Glenn Einfeld is a highly knowledgeable and experienced BC personal injury lawyer and BC motorcycle accident lawyer who has successfully litigated many ICBC claims and other insurance claims, including out of province claims, wrongful death, brain injury, spinal cord injury, whiplash, soft tissue injury, and all other serious injury claims.