A “hit and run” involves one or more drivers leaving the scene of an accident without providing their name and address. It is a crime in Canada to commit a hit and run. The punishment for this crime can be up to life in prison, depending on the circumstances and injuries to the parties involved.
A major issue here for the injured party is that you do not know who to sue for damages. This can be especially devastating for injured parties who are left unable to work or with huge medical bills.
However, just because you do not know the identity of the other driver that does not mean you cannot bring a lawsuit for, at least a portion of, your losses. You can sue ICBC directly if you are injured on a “highway” in British Columbia. However, the requirements to do so are more onerous:
- Firstly you have to make all reasonable efforts to identify the driver who has hit you. What is considered reasonable is a question of fact and dependent on the individual circumstances. It can be as simple as putting up signs in the area looking for witnesses and reporting the incident to the police, but it can also include much more; and
- There are also special notice requirements that must be given to ICBC. You must give ICBC written notice “as soon as reasonably practicable and in any event within 6 months after the accident that caused the bodily injury, death or property damage.”
Given the onerous requirements to bring a lawsuit when you do not know the identity of the other driver, it is especially important to talk to a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible.
For the drivers who have fled the scene of an accident, another potential consequence, if you are caught, is having your ICBC insurance policy voided and having the plaintiff go directly after your personal/business assets. This, in most cases, will have negative consequences for the plaintiff as well. It’s always better to sue a fully insurance defendant. Insurance companies almost always have deeper and more liquid pockets.
Another issue for an injured party here is that basic unidentified motorist insurance provided by ICBC will only cover up to $200,000 of a claim, and, if you have suffered a serious injury, your claim may be limited to only a portion of your losses. This amount can be awarded in court or negotiated in a settlement outside of court. As always, I recommend consulting with and hiring a lawyer to ensure you get the best possible award. As previously, stated this is particularly important with hit and run cases that have extra requirements with subtle legal nuances. Failure to meet these requirements could bar you from making a claim.