What is a Hit and Run?
A hit and run is when an unknown driver damages your vehicle or injures you but leaves the scene of the collision.
Fortunately, anyone involved in a hit and run in BC has the right to seek compensation for a hit and run directly from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC).
ICBC is able to provide coverage up to a total of $200,000 for anyone who is injured, or whose property is damaged, by a hit and run in BC, if the hit and run occurs on a “highway” in B.C. It is important to note that it is not necessary for your vehicle to be actually “hit”. It may be a scenario where your vehicle is simply “cut off” which causes your vehicle to be involved in a collision. (If you are involved in a hit and run in an ICBC insured vehicle while in the United States there does exist a requirement that you be involved in a “physical” collision with the hit and run vehicle).
Compensation rights for victims of hit and runs in BC
Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act creates certain compensation rights for victims of hit and runs.
24(1) If bodily injury to or the death of a person or damage to property arises out of the use or operation of a vehicle on a highway in British Columbia and
- the names of both the owner and the driver of the vehicle are not 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,
any person who has a cause of action
- as mentioned in paragraph (a), against the owner or the driver, or
- as mentioned in paragraph (b), against the driver,
in respect of the bodily injury, death or property damage may bring an action against the corporation as nominal defendant, either alone or as a defendant with others alleged to be responsible for the injury, death or property damage, but in an action in which the names of both the owner and the driver of the vehicle are not known or ascertainable, recovery for property damage is limited to the amount by which the damages exceed the prescribed amount.
Conditions of section 24
The conditions of section 24 are as follows:
- The loss must have occurred on a highway in BC. The definition of highway includes:
- All public streets, roads, trails, lanes, bridges, trestles, tunnels, ferry landings and approaches, and any other public way;
- Every road, street, lane, or right of way designed or intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles; or
- Every private place or passageway to which the public, for the purpose of the parking or servicing of vehicles, has access or is invited.
- The bodily injury, death, or property damage must have arisen out of the “use or operation of motor vehicle;” and
- The names of 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.
The first and second conditions are usually the easiest to satisfy, whereas the third condition is the hardest.
The first condition includes almost any space intended for vehicles, including alleys and right of ways, and private property to which vehicles have access or are invited (i.e. parking lots).
The second condition, use or operation of a motor vehicle, also covers a broad range of accidents, including accidents where:
- Another vehicle collides with your car, but the other driver leaves the scene before you can get their name, driver’s licence number or vehicle’s licence plate number.
- You return to your car after leaving it unattended in a parking lot and see it has been damaged by another vehicle — but no one has left a note explaining what happened and how to contact them.
- As a pedestrian or cyclist, you are hit by a driver who doesn’t then stop.
The third condition requires that the other driver must not be identifiable. This means that you are responsible for taking all reasonable steps to identify the driver or the vehicle. This usually includes:
- Attempting to get identification from the other driver if he/she stops;
- Attempting to record the plate number if it is visible;
- Getting contact information of any witnesses;
- Calling the police immediately;
- Reporting the accident to ICBC as soon as possible; and
- Posting signs, asking nearby residents or businesses if they saw the accident and potentially placing advertisements in the newspaper or online such as on popular websites like craigslist.
All these steps need to be taken as soon as possible. What is “reasonable” steps to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver will depend on the circumstances. Steps must be taken at the scene (if possible) and afterwards.
What to do in Event of a Hit and Run?
There are very important obligations and limitation periods that must be followed in the event of a hit and run. The following is a list of some of the steps that are vital to the success of your claim.
- Take all steps possible to identify the driver of the responsible vehicle such as their name, license plate number, description of the vehicle, description of driver, etc.
- Call the police and report the accident immediately if possible, and preferably within the first 24 hours of the accident. Provide the police with all the information you have regarding the other driver and vehicle, as well as the time and location of your accident.
- Report your claim to ICBC by calling ICBC’s Dial-a-Claim at 604-520-8222 in the Lower Mainland or 1-800-910-ICBC (4222) toll-free throughout the rest of B.C.
- Provide written notice of the hit and run to ICBC as soon as you can and no later than six months after the accident. Failure to do so could result in your claim being denied.