Car accidents are scary and can happen quickly, often without warning. However, being involved in an accident or suffering substantial vehicle damage does not always result in all involved parties stopping at the accident scene. Unfortunately, some drivers attempt to avoid accepting responsibility for an accident and choose to flee before checking in with the other driver, pedestrian, or cyclist. So what recourse is available to those who have been injured as a result of a “hit and run” accident?

Why do Drivers Leave the Scene?

Shock, panic and confusion are just some of the emotions which may be felt in the immediate aftermath of those involved in a motor vehicle accident. While most individuals understand that they are required to remain at the scene of an accident, some do not. 

Fear of a lawsuit or other legal consequences, an insurance increase, being uninsured, or driving under the influence are reasons drivers may leave an accident scene. However, by fleeing from an accident, drivers are often the recipient of significant personal and financial consequences. 

Penalties for Drivers who Flee an Accident Scene

A driver who does not remain at the scene in an attempt to escape liability may be punished under section 252(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. As a result, a fleeing driver may be issued a fine, have their license suspended, receive demerit points, or be ordered to a term of imprisonment. 

A hit-and-run driver may also be subject to a significant increase in their car insurance rate. In Alberta, even if the vehicle owner was not the driver involved in a hit-and-run accident, they may still be considered guilty of the offence. 

Even if the accident did not result in significant injury, hit-and-run accidents are still investigated by the police. 

How Are Hit and Run Accidents Reported?

Reports from witnesses, injured drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are the most common form of reporting on hit-and-run accidents. If an injured party could not take photos at the scene, dash camera footage, security cameras and traffic cameras can also provide useful evidence. In many cases, bulletins may be advertised to the public seeking assistance in identifying the driver. 

What to do After a Hit and Run Accident?

After an accident, getting yourself to safety and seeking appropriate medical attention is important. If you can safely collect information at the scene, try to take note of as many details as possible, including the fleeing driver’s car, the time and location of the accident, and contact information or camera footage from any witnesses. If possible, take photos of the scene and any damage. You must remain at the scene until the accident has been reported, and do not attempt to follow a hit-and-run driver.

If your injuries are so significant that you cannot gather evidence at the time of the accident, a personal injury lawyer can help you build your case later. It is important to note that the accident should be reported to both the police and your insurance company as quickly as possible. 

In accident claims involving the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program, it is important to take quick action to ensure specific deadlines are met so that benefit opportunities are not lost. For these reasons, it is recommended to seek legal advice from a reputable personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible.  

If the Hit and Run Driver is Unable to be Located, Can I Still Recieve Compensation?

Those who have been injured due to a hit-and-run accident are still entitled to receive compensation through the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program. The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program can be a complicated process to navigate; therefore, it is incredibly beneficial to obtain legal representation to ensure that the claim is managed appropriately. 

If the fleeing driver cannot be located, the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program in Alberta will pay an injured party up to $200,000 as injury compensation. However, this is only paid after a good-faith effort has been made by the injured party to attempt to find the driver. This monetary limit may pose challenges when an individual has suffered a catastrophic personal injury. There are various prerequisites which must be satisfied in order for a claim to be accepted by the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program, such as the accident must have occurred in Alberta, the accident was the fault of the unknown driver, and the party commencing the claim must have been a resident of Alberta at the date of the accident. 

If the injured party has their own automobile insurance policy, Section B benefits may be available to cover immediate expenses such as medical treatment and supplementary wage benefits. 

What Happens if the Driver is Located? 

The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program will often be involved in a claim before a driver is identified. If the driver is located, they will be provided with the opportunity to defend the claim as a driver in a typical motor vehicle accident claim would. In some circumstances, if a settlement is reached between the parties, it may be subject to the approval of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program.

If the hit-and-run driver is located and is found to have valid insurance, an injured party can commence a claim against the at-fault driver in the same manner as a typical car accident proceeding. Because of the driver’s behaviour after the accident, punitive damages may be awarded. 

If the driver is found and is deemed to be uninsured or underinsured, an injured party’s own insurance may also assist in paying for damages above the damages covered by the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program. 

The Car Accident Lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP Help Clients Obtain Fair Compensation After Hit and Run Accidents

If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident, the experienced car accident lawyers at Cuming & Gillespie LLP are ready to help. It is important to act fast after a hit-and-run accident, and with the help of our personal injury team, you can focus on prioritizing your recovery while we take steps toward identifying the driver and managing your claim. We proudly advocate for injured drivers and pedestrians across Alberta to ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. To speak with a responsive personal injury team member, call us at 403-571-0555 or reach out to us online to schedule a consultation.