Hit and run accidents are regrettably common in British Columbia and the identity of the other driver in a motor vehicle accident may not always be ascertainable. Since a person injured in a motor vehicle accident generally obtains compensation for their injuries by filing a lawsuit against the driver at fault, individuals injured in hit and run accidents may be concerned that they will be unable to obtain compensation for their injuries as they will be unable to sue the other party. However, under s. 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996 c. 231 an individual may obtain compensation in such situations by filing a lawsuit naming ICBC as the nominal defendant. ICBC will defend the claim, and may pay the individual the same compensation they were entitled to had the other driver been identified (subject to certain limitations).
In order to qualify for coverage under s. 24, an accident must meet certain criteria:
- The accident must have occurred on a “highway” in British Columbia (the term “highway” has a broad definition under the Act, including not just highways but the vast majority of public roads in British Columbia);
- The bodily injury caused by the accident must have arisen out of the “use or operation of a motor vehicle;”
- The names of the parties liable for the accident must not be ascertainable.
However, in order to pursue a claim under s. 24 of the Act, an injured party must take certain steps to attempt to identify the other driver and give ICBC notice of the accident. These include:
- Giving ICBC notice of the accident in writing as soon as possible, and in any event within 6 months of the accident occurring;
- Notifying the police within 48 hours of the accident or discovery of damage caused by the accident and providing them with a report of the circumstances of the accident;
- Obtaining the police file number for the report and provide it to ICBC upon request;
- Making “all reasonable efforts” to ascertain the identity of the other driver. What constitutes “reasonable efforts” will depend on the circumstances of each case, but may include steps such as obtaining the license plate of the other vehicle if possible, notifying the police of the accident and cooperating with their investigation, and placing signs at the accident site or ads in local newspapers asking potential witnesses to the accident to come forward.
If a party fails to take appropriate steps as set out above they may not be able to successfully pursue their claim. If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident the personal injury and ICBC lawyers at Bisbicis Law Corporation will be able to assist you in pursuing your claim and ensuring you are able to obtain the compensation you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation at 1-855-924-7529.