Qualifying for Compensation
When the at-fault driver of a vehicle flees the scene of an accident before the victim is able to properly identify the person or their vehicle, a hit and run accident has occurred. In British Columbia, even if they are unable to provide ICBC with information about the offending driver, the victim of a hit and run accident is entitled to claim compensation for personal injuries and damage to their vehicle. Hit and run accident claims are governed by section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act. The Act states that certain obligations must be met in order for the insured victim to claim for damages.
In order for the injured party to qualify for compensation in a hit and run accident, the accident must have occurred on a public roadway or highway in British Columbia. This definition is quite broad and includes all public streets, lanes, roads, trails, lanes, bridges, trestles, tunnels, ferry landings and approaches intended to be used by the general public for the passage of vehicles. Typically, hit and run accidents that occur on private property or driveways are not covered.
Protecting Your Claim
There are certain steps that must be taken immediately after a hit-and-run accident. It is important that you make every reasonable effort to identify the at-fault driver that struck you, and immediately contact the police and ICBC. You cannot report your claim online. If there are any witnesses to the accident, you must get their contact information. If you are not able to find a witness, a reasonable effort to find a witness, such as posting signs at the scene of the accident urging people to come forward, may be sufficient to ensure you qualify for compensation. In addition to posting signs asking for witnesses, you can knock on doors of nearby homes or buildings, and place ads in the local newspapers. It is very helpful to discover the license plate number or description and model of the vehicle.
Strict timelines govern your window of opportunity and limit your rights to pursue damages. If you wait too long, you will lose your entitlement. You must also notify ICBC immediately following the accident. You must send a written statement to ICBC within six months of your accident; however the sooner you do so, the better. It is also crucial that your injuries and/or vehicle damage are documented immediately following the accident, or as soon as practicable. Taking these steps and acting quickly will allow you to protect your claim against allegations from ICBC that your actions were non-compliant with section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act.
Amount of Coverage
As the victim of a hit-and-run accident, you are covered up to a maximum compensation of $200,000 for damages and personal injuries. When the victim’s damages exceed the $200,000 limit, Underinsured Motorist Protection (“UMP”) may be available to cover the additional costs, though there will be deductions.
Due to legislative requirements and strict time limits, hit and run accident claims can be complicated. Your personal injury lawyer can help in your pursuit of a successful hit and run claim. Many people lose their rights to compensation because they are unaware of the proper protocol to follow in order to successfully claim for damages. We can help with the investigation of the at-fault driver as well as with the written notice that you need to send to ICBC to secure your rights. The sooner you contact us, the more effectively we can ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to.