Unidentified Driver Accidents
Hopefully, if you have the misfortune to be injured in a motor vehicle accident, then you are not at fault for the accident and you are able to identify the driver of the vehicle who is at fault. In that scenario, you could make a claim for compensation against the negligent driver. In addition, the negligent driver will ideally have insurance coverage in place to assist with compensation for your injuries and losses.
However, what if you are injured by the negligent use or operation of a motor vehicle, but you aren’t able to identify the driver of the vehicle that caused your injuries. Maybe the other driver left some debris or substance on the road. Maybe the other driver caused the collision, but didn’t remain at the scene. Who can you claim compensation from in these type of situations?
In BC, section 24 of the Insurance (Motor Vehicle) Act may be available to assist with compensation in unidentified driver situations. When someone is injured as a result of the negligent use or operation of a motor vehicle, then ICBC may have an obligation to provide compensation for losses up to $200,000.00. However, you will have to comply with the requirements outlined in section 24 in order to successfully claim compensation. One key element is that you must make reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the other driver, both at the scene if possible, as well as in the days and weeks that follow. What is determined as reasonable by the Courts will depend on the circumstances. For example, it would generally not be seen as reasonable to expect a person with severe injuries or a loss of consciousness to get the licence plate of a vehicle that leaves the scene. Generally, if a person should have been able to get some information about the other vehicle at the scene, then the failure to do so could result in a challenge to a claim under section 24. As much information as possible should be gathered at the scene and the accident should be promptly reported to the police and ICBC. Photographs of the scene may also prove useful.
In addition, reasonable efforts must be made to ascertain the identity of the other driver in the days and weeks after the accident. Often ads are run in the newspaper and posters are put up at the scene and nearby residences or businesses. Sometimes witnesses will come forward. Again, reasonable efforts depend on the circumstances and location that the accident occurred.
Basically, the best practice if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident is to do everything you can think of that might be seen as reasonable to try to identify witnesses and the other vehicle or its driver. If you are too injured to take steps to try to identify the other driver, then hopefully your friends and family can provide some assistance. It is NOT always enough to solely rely on the police, without making any efforts of your own and following up with the police.
Of course, if you are injured by an unidentified driver, then you should consider consulting with a lawyer as soon as possible about section 24. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being injured by an unidentified driver, then contact us at Pushor Mitchell LLP to arrange a free initial consultation with one of our lawyers.