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Navigating a Hit-and-Run Accident

Experiencing a car accident is already a distressing event, but being involved in a hit-and-run can escalate the situation, leaving a person feeling overwhelmed and disoriented. Not only is the innocent party in such an accident put in harm’s way physically, they are left worrying if they will take a financial hit for car repairs and medical treatment.

Understanding Hit-and-Run

Hit-and-run incidents involve a driver striking a pedestrian, another vehicle, or a stationary object and fleeing the scene without providing contact information. This not only violates the law but can lead to severe consequences, particularly if injuries are sustained. These consequences can include criminal charges, fines and license revocation, depending on the severity and location of the accident.

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run

Immediately following a hit-and-run, there are essential steps to take:

  1. Call Emergency Services:
    • If anyone is injured, dial 911 for immediate assistance.
    • Provide as much detail as possible about the fleeing vehicle to aid in apprehension.
  2. Gather information at the scene:
    • Gather the names and numbers of anyone in the area who witnessed the accident. Make note of any businesses or homes in the immediate area that may have security cameras or video doorbells that could have captured the incident.
    • Write down any details that might be important including color, make and model of the hit-and-run vehicle, a driver description, license plate number or any portion that you remember, location, time and cause of the accident, and the last direction of travel for the vehicle.
    • Take pictures of the damage to your vehicle, any injuries you sustained and the street names/location where the accident took place.
  3. Stay safe:
    • Don’t attempt to follow the hit-and-run vehicle.
    • Pull off the roadway if your vehicle is operable and your injuries are mild enough to operate a vehicle safely.
    • Call a family member or friend to provide support and assistance if possible.
  4. Seek Medical Attention:
    • If an ambulance comes to the scene of the accident, allow paramedics to assess you and your passengers and follow any instructions they give you on attending to your injuries.
    • If an ambulance doesn’t attend the scene, call a friend or taxi cab to take you to the nearest hospital for assessment or visit your family doctor as soon as possible to treat and document your injuries.
  5. Report to Authorities:
    • In an accident where all parties remain at the scene, a collision doesn’t need to be reported to police if the total estimated damage is under $5,000. However, when the accident involves a hit-and-run, it must be reported to police even if damage is under $5,000. The collision must also be reported to police when there are any injuries. File a police report promptly. Leaving the scene of an accident (or “failure to remain” as it is called) is a serious offence even in minor accidents with no injuries.
    • Bring your driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance, and share all details, photographs and contact information for any witnesses.
    • Keep a copy of any evidence you’ve shared with the police.
    • Get a copy of the police report.
  6. Inform Insurance:
    • Report the hit-and-run to your insurance company without delay.
    • Share any evidence you’ve gathered.
    • Ask questions and take notes when discussing next steps so you are clear about what they need from you in order to pay for vehicle repairs and cover medical expenses.
  7. Seek Legal Assistance:
    • Contact a personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience resolving hit-and-run cases.
    • Legal representation can ensure your rights are protected and maximize compensation for damages.

Insurance and Hit-and-Run

Most insurance policies require hit-and-run incidents to be reported to police within 24 hours for coverage. In the absence of an identified at-fault driver, your insurance will cover damages if you have collision coverage in your policy. You will also have to pay your deductible fee since there is no identified at-fault driver to pay this fee. The deductible amount is typically $500 or $1,000 depending on the arrangements you made when insuring your vehicle.

FAQs:

Question: Will my insurance cover a hit-and-run in a parking lot?
Answer: If someone hit your vehicle in a parking lot and left without providing contact information, this will be treated as a hit-and-run. In this case, your insurance company will pay for repairs minus the deductible amount that is identified in your policy (typically $500 or $1,000) as long as you have an insurance policy with collision coverage.

Question: What if I’m falsely accused of a hit-and-run?
Answer: Remain silent and don’t get in contact with your accuser. Gather as much evidence as possible to prove your innocence and hire a lawyer who can represent you and protect your rights.

Question: What should I do if someone causes a hit-and-run accident with my car?
Answer: If you let someone drive your car and they get in an accident, your insurance company will typically be responsible for paying the claim if you have collision coverage. This claim will go on your insurance record and could affect your insurance rates. In case of a hit-and-run involving your car, you should immediately report the accident to police and your insurance company, and the person who caused the accident can be held liable.

Question: What is the punishment for hit-and-run in Canada?
Answer: Section 69 of the Traffic Safety Act states that a driver involved directly or indirectly in an accident must remain at, or immediately return to, the scene of an accident, render all reasonable assistance, produce in writing their name, address, operator’s licence number, the name and address of the vehicle’s registered owner, licence plate number of the vehicle and an insurance document. If someone strikes a car in a parking lot, they must leave written notice in a conspicuous place including name and address of the driver, driver’s licence number and licence plate of the vehicle. Failure to comply with the Traffic Safety Act can result in a $2,000 fine or six months imprisonment or both.

Navigating a hit-and-run accident requires swift action and legal support to ensure your rights are upheld and rightful compensation is obtained. Call Constantine Pefanis, personal injury lawyer at Pefanis Horvath Barristers and Solicitors, at (403) 444-5878 for more information, or fill out this form.

Constantine Pefanis