Most people will experience some form of car accident during their driving careers, and in most cases the accident will be minor and the ensuing moments will pass un-dramatically: you’ll emerge from your vehicle uninjured, exchange insurance information with the other parties involved, and resolve your dispute in a civil manner. In some cases, car accident lawyers may help victims access some form of compensation.
When an individual flees the scene of an accident, however, injury victims may face a harder path to compensation. Hit-and-run accidents are exceptionally frustrating for accident victims, law enforcement, and car accident lawyers alike, and as such individuals who leave the scene of an accident can be fined up to $2,000, have their licence suspended for no less than three months, and in some cases spend up to six months in jail.
If you have been struck by a driver that flees the scene, do your best to recall the car’s make, model, colour, and if possible the licence plate information. Talk to nearby witnesses to see if they can provide any identifying details.
Unfortunately, perpetrators are rarely apprehended in hit-and-run cases. With that in mind, what steps can you take to access compensation? Your first step is to call the police: not only is leaving the scene of an accident a criminal offence, your insurance company will likely want you to file a police report – the sooner the better.
Because you are not at fault for your injuries and no other identifiable parties are involved, you will most likely be covered under your own insurance policy. If a passenger in your car is also injured, they two would be covered under the policy covering your vehicle.
But what if you are hit as a pedestrian or cyclist? Unless the hit-and-run perpetrator is identified, no insurance coverage will be available to you, and there will be no defendant against which to launch a civil suit. In these scenarios, car accident lawyers and their clients must turn to the Government of Ontario’s Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF), which the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) describes as the “payer of last resort” because it “provides compensation to people injured in automobile accidents when no automobile insurance exists to respond to the claim.” This fund is only available to Ontario residents for accidents that occur within the province.
While options exist for hit-and-run victims, these accidents are frustrating, dangerous, and put the community at risk.