If you are injured in a car accident and the other driver flees the scene, ICBC still has to compensate you for your injuries, but only if you take the necessary steps. The problem is ICBC doesn’t advertise what those steps are so people often wait too long and lose their right to make a claim.
ICBC’s Approach to Hit and Run Claims: Deny, Deny, Deny
ICBC‘s approach to hit and run claims is always to first deny a person’s claim on the basis that an accident involving another vehicle never happened. To prevent ICBC from denying your claim this way, you should take several photos of your vehicle and of the accident location right away. Be sure to take the pictures at the scene of the accident, so you cannot be accused later of making it up. You should also make sure some of your photos are close-ups which show paint transfers between vehicles, imprints from the other vehicle, and any skid marks on the road. This prevents ICBC from saying you were in a single vehicle accident.
Even if you can show that an accident did happen, ICBC will still deny your claim and say that you could have obtained the names of the owner and driver of the other vehicle but you failed to do so. Though it sounds crazy that you would be expected to figure out the identity of a driver who flees the scene of an accident when you are in shock and injured, the law under the Insurance (Vehicle) Act gives ICBC the right to deny your claim if you do not take steps such as posting an ad for witnesses in the newspaper and posting signs at the accident location. Posting signs in a busy traffic area or on a bridge can be very dangerous or impossible if you are severely injured, and running an ad in the Vancouver Sun for a few days could cost upwards of $800. Because of this, it is important that you hire a lawyer right away so the lawyer can make sure all the steps are taken and you can make your claim.
Dismissing a Hit and Run Claim
ICBC has had hit and run claims dismissed by the courts over the years, but it does not always win. It was recently ordered to pay over $216,000 after a jury found that a young woman who was horseback riding in Abbotsford was injured when her horse was struck by a vehicle that fled the scene. The woman thought she knew which van was responsible for the accident so she named the owner of that van but she was not sure, so she also alleged hit and run as an alternative argument. Leading up to trial ICBC denied the woman’s claim and would not negotiate settlement under the hit and run provisions. In the end, the jury did not find that the woman named the proper owner. However, it did find that there was a hit and run and ICBC should compensate the woman for her injuries. Here is a link to an article about the case in the Vancouver Sun.
Simpson, Thomas & Associates has handled hundreds of hit and run claims over the years and is well-versed in dealing with ICBC over this issue. If you have been involved in a hit and run accident, you should call 604.689.8888 or 1-800.668.3788 right away.