The answer is ‘yes’. However, anyone considering making a claim for injuries arising from a hit-and-run accident in British Columbia must be aware that s. 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act imposes specific obligations. For example, s. 24 requires that anyone claiming for bodily injury from a hit and run driver must give written notice of the same to ICBC as soon as reasonably practicable and within no more than 6 months.
Further, in order to successfully recover damages, a court must be satisfied that you have made all reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver and/or owner of the vehicle that collided with you. This is a very important point because claims for bodily injury have been dismissed outright for a failure to prove that those reasonable efforts were made.
The question then becomes: ‘What constitutes reasonable efforts?’ Courts in British Columbia have considered the following when assessing whether reasonable efforts have been made by the victim of a hit-and-run accident:
- Depending on a person’s condition and the circumstances at the scene of the accident, it may not be reasonable to expect that s/he obtain details about the offending driver at the scene of the accident;
- Failure to record a license plate number at the time of the accident where a person has the opportunity to do so may be fatal to the claim;
- Reporting the car accident to the police, without more, may not be enough to fulfill the requirements of s. 24, for the reason that the Act places responsibility on the person claiming for injuries (not the police) to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver or owner;
- Where a car accident is reported to the police, it will not always be reasonable to assume the police will make all necessary inquiries to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver; and,
- Even if you have not been informed by ICBC that further steps need to be taken to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver, you may not be relieved of the obligation to take all reasonable steps.
Keeping the above in mind, it may not be enough to simply report the hit-and-run accident to ICBC. Attempting to promptly locate witnesses by posting signs, contacting nearby businesses, and posting in local newspapers may help establish that reasonable efforts have been made to identify the driver or owner of the vehicle that caused the car accident. Postings on craigslist or other local internet sites (such as www.revscene.net or www.reddit.com/r/vancouver) can also help establish that reasonable efforts have been made.
In short, if you have been injured in a hit and run accident, you are entitled to make a claim for damages. However, there is a burden on you to take steps to identify the driver and/or owner who caused the injuries. Failure to do so may result in a dismissal of your claim. One of the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer early on after a hit-and-run accident is that they can assist you with making efforts to identify the driver of the other vehicle.
If you have been involved in a hit-and-run accident claim or other motor vehicle accident, contact Pacific Law Group for a FREE initial consultation.
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