If you’re the victim of a hit and run in B.C., you may be able to collect compensation from ICBC for your injuries or property damage. But getting that money isn’t automatic – you first have to try and find the identity of the at-fault driver/owner of the fleeing vehicle.
You have to try this not just at the accident scene, but also in the days and weeks after the accident. And it’s no excuse to say you don’t know how or that this is the job of the police or ICBC.
Not trying hard enough could kill your claim against ICBC.
And don’t count on ICBC to tell you what you have to do. A disturbing case illustrates they don’t have to.
Here, Janet (names changed), driving in Burnaby one dark evening, stopped in a line of traffic at a red light at an intersection. Behind her, Alice also slowed down to stop. But Alice was hit by the vehicle behind her and rear-ended Janet’s car. Janet was in shock and stayed in her car for a minute. Eventually she got out and spoke to Alice, who told her she’d been struck from behind. Janet didn’t see another car touching or impacting Alice’s car, and neither saw a car go by.
They pulled their vehicles over to let the traffic they’d blocked move and exchanged information. Janet called 911 and Alice told the police her vehicle had been struck from behind. Neither Janet nor Alice saw or got any details of the vehicle that struck Alice and disappeared.
Janet reported the accident to ICBC. Her adjuster accepted her claim as a hit-and-run while trying to negotiate a settlement, and didn’t tell her she had to try to identify the car driver/owner. During the next couple of years, Janet held off settling her claim till she could get a handle on her medical situation.
But when she made a court claim for compensation, ICBC asked the court to throw out her claim against them. ICBC argued she hadn’t tried hard enough to identify the at-fault hit-and-run driver/owner who hit Alice’s car.
The court agreed and dismissed Janet’s claim against ICBC.
Basically, for good reasons, the law that makes ICBC responsible to pay in hit-and-run cases specifically requires you to make “all reasonable efforts” to identify the at-fault driver/owner. It doesn’t say ICBC has to tell you that, though the court admonished ICBC for not warning Janet about this here.
Janet could have done many things to try and identify the at-fault owner/driver. The car drivers initially stopped behind Alice at the scene could have been asked what they saw. And there were pedestrian crosswalks and sidewalks nearby, as well as a parking lot and building. So there might have been witnesses. Posting notices near the scene afterwards might have led to them coming forward, as might local newspaper advertisements.
If you’ve been hurt in a hit-and-run, you have to act promptly, and learn about your rights and duties. Seek out qualified legal assistance.
Janice Mucalov, LL.B. for Gertsoyg & Company. This column provides information only and must not be relied on for legal advice. Please call Gertsoyg & Company at (604) 602-3066 for a free legal consultation concerning your particular case.