Yes, you can bring an ICBC claim for personal injury compensation if the accident was caused by a driver of a vehicle who fled the scene or a driver who left before you were able to get information to identify them.
However, there are very strict requirements to establish an ICBC claim for personal injury compensation caused by a hit and run car accident. This post will provide an overview of some of the crucial steps a hit and run victim must take to collect damages from ICBC. Bear in mind that each case is unique – if you want more information or need to discuss the specific circumstances of your accident, contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation with one of our team of Vancouver personal injury lawyers. BC law that applies to hit and run accident claims If a vehicle flees the scene after hitting a pedestrian or cyclist or colliding with another car, s. 24(1) of BC’s Insurance (Vehicle) Act allows the victim of the hit and run accident to make an ICBC personal injury claim, provided that the victim meets certain requirements imposed by the law. Every BC resident is entitled to make a claim for coverage, even if they do not own or insure a vehicle. To qualify, the hit and run accident must have occurred on a “highway” in BC. Hit-and-run coverage is not available for accidents that occur on private driveways or private underground parking lots. Amount of ICBC compensation under hit and run coverage BC law provides that the current coverage for a hit and run claim is up to $200,000 for vehicle damages and personal injury. If there are multiple accident victims involved, the $200,000 would be split among those claimants. If damages are more than $200,000, Underinsured Motorist Protection (“UMP”) coverage through ICBC Autoplan may apply (the limit on damages pursuant to the UMP claim would then be $1 million or more, depending on the coverage purchased by the accident victim). Statutory requirements to collect compensation from ICBC for hit and run injuries To collect damages from ICBC, a hit and run accident victim must strictly comply with the conditions imposed by their insurance policy and BC law. The conditions are intended to prevent fraudulent hit and run claims, but ICBC regularly relies on the conditions to reject seemingly obvious hit and run claims. Before a hit and run accident victim can collect personal injury damages from ICBC, s. 24(5) of BC’s Insurance (Vehicle) Act requires the hit and run accident victim to establish that they made “all reasonable efforts” to ascertain the identity of the unknown owner and/or driver. In the best case scenario, the hit and run victim or witnesses to the accident will be able to get the other driver’s licence plate number, provide information about the make and model of the vehicle, or have got the name of the other driver. However, in many cases, there is little to no information to go on – and in the worst-case scenario, the accident victim is so seriously injured that they are not physically able to gather information at the scene of the accident. What amounts to “all reasonable efforts” following a hit and run accident? Whether “all reasonable efforts” have been made will depend on the unique circumstances of each case, including the injuries sustained, but what is clear is that it is not enough to simply report the accident to ICBC and the police. “Reasonable efforts” is typically interpreted to include: • Getting the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident (immediately after the accident, or later by canvassing local businesses and talking to nearby residents, etc.); • Posting signs near the scene of the accident asking witnesses to come forward; and • Putting an ad in the local newspaper or online asking for witnesses to the accident to contact you. It is important to note that the hit and run accident victim must make these efforts, and also document these efforts to prove to ICBC (and to the court, if necessary) what they did to ascertain the identity of the owner and/or driver of the other vehicle. Additional steps to take following a hit and run accident In addition to the “all reasonable efforts” requirement, the following additional steps must be taken following a hit and run accident to avoid losing the right to receive compensation by way of an ICBC claim: • Report the hit and run to ICBC immediately or as soon as reasonably practicable. • Report the accident to the police (if they did not attend the scene) as soon as possible, and at least within 48 hours. Tell the police what you can remember, including a description of the driver and any information about the other vehicle such as make, model, colour and any distinguishing features such as dents, specialty wheels, roof racks, running boards or decals. • Provide written notice to ICBC within six months of the accident (note that while BC law requires that the written notice be given within six months, it is preferable to give the written notice as soon as possible after the accident, otherwise ICBC may attempt to deny the claim on the basis of delay). Of course, in addition to all of the above requirements, an accident victim (hit and run or otherwise), should always obtain necessary medical attention to officially and thoroughly document all injuries. Injured in a hit and run accident? Get help with your ICBC claim If you have been injured in a BC hit and run accident, you should get legal advice as soon as possible after the accident because of the strict requirements you need to meet to access benefits and pursue a claim for personal injury damages. Bronson Jones & Company LLP is one of the largest personal injury law firms in Vancouver with two offices in the city and an additional 11 offices throughout British Columbia. Our team of personal injury lawyers are available to help you obtain the compensation that you or your loved one is entitled to from being injured in a hit and run accident.