When injury is caused by another person’s careless actions, the negligent party’s insurance company is usually responsible to pay for damages. If we have been hurt because of someone else, we expect him or her to be considerate enough to stay and do what is possible to make amends. It’s simply the right thing to do. In the case of a personal injury car accident, it’s the law. Aside from the obvious anger and disbelief that arises when we consider the idea that someone would cause us harm and then maliciously leave the scene, there are other issues we should be aware of regarding a hit and run accident.
Hit and runs occur often
A hit and run driver may accidentally hit another car in the grocery store or mall parking lot. It can happen when a driver loses control and hits a mailbox or other private or public property. We are horrified when it causes serious personal injury or death to another driver or innocent occupants. The disbelief can be even greater when the victim is a child, a pedestrian, person in a wheel chair, on a bike or on a skateboard. The damage and injuries may not be so obvious when victims are inside a vehicle, but a person on foot, on a bike or in a wheel chair, is obviously vulnerable and at extreme risk.
Why would someone leave the accident scene?
It’s hard to know how or why people react the way they do in an accident situation. Perhaps the offender was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He/she may be an uninsured driver or driving without a license, driving a stolen car or involved in other criminal acts. Sometimes there is another reason. When the offender leaves the scene and is never found, we can only guess.
What is required if the accident was a hit and run?
If you intend to claim for damages suffered, regarding injuries or death, you must be able to prove some one else was at fault. If the other vehicle and its driver are nowhere to be found, this makes the task more difficult. Ideally witnesses to the accident may be able to add valuable details such as license plate numbers, type and colour of car, and any other information regarding what happened. Witness reports help verify fault and may contribute toward identification of the hit and run driver.
- To prove fault on behalf of a hit and run driver
- Collect names and contact information for witnesses
- Take photos of the car, the accident site, surrounding vehicles, buildings, signs, and skid marks
- Write out a description of what took place as soon as possible after the accident
- Report the accident to police
- Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer
When someone is seriously injured or killed hit in a hit and run accident and no witnesses are available, it will take special investigators to methodically piece together the events of the accident.
Local signs and newspaper ads may bring forward witnesses with further information about the accident and leads to finding the offending driver.
Witnesses may be other drivers, pedestrians, cyclists or traveling in a bus or other public transit. Someone sitting in a coffee shop or looking out a hotel or an apartment window may have seen the accident occur. Someone may have caught the incident or the absent vehicle on camera.
What does the law say?
If the offender is found guilty of failing to stop at the scene of an accident, he can be criminally charged federally under the Criminal Code of Canada. This charge results in permanent criminal record.
If the offender is found guilty and charged under Ontario provincial statutes, the charge is “Fail to Remain.” This charge can result in loss of license points, a fine, up to 6 months in prison and or suspension of driver’s license.
What about damages for serious or fatal injuries?
Canadian car owners are legally required to carry insurance, which covers them in the event of an accident caused, by a hit and run or uninsured driver. If the driver of the hit and run vehicle cannot be found, the injured driver’s insurance company is responsible to pay for damages to injured victims.
Injured automobile occupants other than the driver, who intend to claim for compensation, would do so under their own insurance. If they do not have car insurance, they would claim under the driver’s insurance policy, up to a limited amount.
In many situations a pedestrian, cyclist, skateboarder or someone other than a vehicle occupant is injured. If no other vehicles were involved, and the at fault driver cannot be found, the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF) is responsible for providing funds for medical care and necessary expenses.
If the hit and run driver has selfishly left the scene of the accident and cannot be identified, it is not possible to claim through his or her insurance as is customarily done. These accidents are handled differently regarding compensation for injuries and other losses. It is important to get and record as much information as possible at the scene of the accident, in order to verify your rights to compensation. It is crucial to speak to a trained and experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident has occurred. If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in a hit and run accident, compensation is not automatically given. You will need to make it known that you intend to claim and you must begin legal proceedings within the acceptable time frame in order to be eligible. Your personal injury lawyer will carry out necessary investigations, guide you through the legalities involved and offer valuable tips on dealing with the insurance company. (Related article :Why you need a Personal Injury Lawyer: What your trusted insurance person doesn’t want you to know)
About The Kahler Personal Injury Law Firm
We work on a contingency fee basis. No fees are ever collected until we have won your injury claim. If you have been injured in a hit and run accident you may face many obstacles with rehabilitation and financial compensation. The actions of the fail to remain driver may be compounded by a less than willing insurance company looking to safeguard their bottom line. Our lawyers are prepared to meet with you to answer your questions and help clarify some of the confusion regarding the law. There is no charge for this consultation and we can travel to your home or another location of your choice. We work with a devoted team of leading medical specialists and can offer valuable medical and rehabilitation resources. Our lawyers have the experience, determination and persistence required to prevail in court.