According to ICBC, there are on average 49,000 hit and run accidents in BC that leave some 2,200 people injured. A hit and run accident occurs if another vehicle collides with your vehicle and leaves the scene before you can get the driver’s name, license number or vehicle license plate number. A hit and run accident may also occur when your vehicle is damaged by another vehicle while it is unattended in a parking lot, or when a driver hits a pedestrian or cyclist and fails to stop. ICBC has established a very specific process for applying for financial compensation following a hit and run accident.
What Do I Do After an Accident?
If you have been involved in a hit and run car accident, it is extremely important to report the accident to ICBC as soon as possible. Immediately call ICBC’s Dial-a-Claim at 604-520-8222 in the Lower Mainland or 1-800-910-ICBC throughout the rest of B.C.
In most cases, the ICBC Dial-a-Claim representative will inform you directly on what steps to take, including where you must take your vehicle for an estimate and repairs, or whether you need to meet with ICBC at a claim center. ICBC strongly recommends that you do not attempt to repair or clean the damage to your vehicle prior to your appointment.
You must notify ICBC of your hit and run accident in writing within six months of the accident or you may lose your right to claim compensation for your injuries. ICBC requires hit and run claimants to complete and submit a CL 45 statutory declaration form. An experienced injury lawyer can assist you with this form and ensure you meet the necessary deadlines.
You should also file a police report if there is a suspect or where injuries have resulted from the hit and run. ICBC will require the police report when you report the accident to them.
If you wait too long to report the claim, you could be denied certain ICBC benefits. In the Supreme Court of B.C. case, Dobb v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia 1991 CanLII 355, a claimant who waited two months to report his hit and run accident had his claim dismissed. In that case, the court held that the driver had an obligation to act “logically, reasonably, fairly” and waiting two months to report a serious accident did not meet that obligation.
Do I Have to Locate Who Hit Me?
ICBC requires that you take all reasonable and safe steps to identify the driver and vehicle as soon as possible after a hit and run collision, and you may need to prove that you attempted to ascertain the identity of the driver or the car’s owner.
An example of when the courts determined the effort made to ascertain the identity of the driver to be insufficient occurred in the Supreme Court of B.C. case Nelson v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia 2003 BCSC 121. The plaintiff, a pedestrian in a hit and run, waited nine months before taking any meaningful steps to determine the identity of the unidentified motorist. Her claim against ICBC was dismissed as the judge found this effort was “much too late” and she had failed to make “all reasonable efforts”.
Reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the driver and vehicle may include:
- Filing a police report and relying on the police investigation
- Obtaining and providing contact details of witnesses, and
- Posting signs around the accident location to find witnesses.
In order to facilitate the process of locating the driver, you can speak with other witnesses at the accident scene. If you see the hit and run motorist leaving the scene or if you speak to a witness who saw the driver leaving, you should call the police immediately and provide a description of the vehicle and driver, the plate number and the direction the vehicle is travelling.
Whether steps are considered reasonable will depend on the circumstances of your accident. At Spraggs & Co., our accident lawyers can determine what is reasonable and engage our experienced investigators to help locate and interview witnesses.
Filing a Claim for Damages
If damage occurred to your vehicle following a hit and run, you may make a claim with ICBC to recover your loss. The amount that you will have pay out-of-pocket for your collision deductible will be the lesser of the standard $750 deductible for a hit and run accident or your ICBC collision deductible.
If the accident is more serious and an injury or death resulted, ICBC must provide compensation for your damages. Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act creates a statutory remedy for any bodily injury, death, or property damage that has occurred as a result of an unidentified motorist in B.C. A hit and run victim can bring an action for recovery for injury or death against ICBC provided that:
- The accident occurred on a highway
- The accident resulted from use or operation of the motor vehicle
- Injury or death resulted, and
- The names of the driver and owner of the vehicle must not be ascertainable or the name of the driver is not ascertainable and the owner is not liable to an action for damages for the injury, death or property damage.
The last requirement is one that precludes moving forward on action if circumstances change. In order words, if an action was started against ICBC because a driver could not be identified, but the police later ascertain the driver’s identity, the action against ICBC would have to be dropped.
Since the accident must occur on a B.C. highway for ICBC compensation, hit and run accidents that occur on private property or a driveway are not covered by ICBC. You may be able to make a claim against homeowners’ third party liability coverage in these situations.
While recovering damages from ICBC, there are limits to how much you may receive. Section 105 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act holds that, in an unidentified driver situation, the total recovery may not exceed $200,000, inclusive of all awards, interest, and costs. In most cases, the compensation will cover the payment of medical and hospital bills, disability payments, rehabilitation, death benefits and funeral expenses.
Speak to a Personal Injury Lawyer in B.C.
If you have incurred injuries and/or vehicle damage from a hit and run accident, you may be entitled to compensation from an insurer. A Spraggs & Co. car accident lawyer in Surrey or Burnaby can assist you. We are well-equipped to guide you and ensure that you are meeting all the limitation periods, filing requirements, and following steps that must be taken. ICBC may deny your claim if any requirements are not met and these claims are extremely time sensitive. Contact a Spraggs & Co. injury lawyer in Burnaby, Surrey, and surrounding areas of the Lower Mainland at 604-464-3333 or 1-866-939-3339.