In an ordinary personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff will need to know who is responsible for their injuries, so that the court can find that party responsible. For example, if you were badly injured by a passerby who strikes you with their umbrella, and flees the scene, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position that you won’t be compensated for the pain and suffering, lost wages and expenses you might suffer from your injuries. Thankfully, our laws in British Columbia do provide some protection to individuals who are injured in a “hit and run”, that is, by a negligent motorist who feels the scene of the accident and remains unidentified.
Section 24 of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act permits claims against unidentified motorists for injury, death or property damage. However, there are some limitations and requirements that must be met. This is not an exhaustive list, but in general, to claim against ICBC for a hit and run, the following restrictions apply:
- The accident must have occurred on a “highway” in British Columbia (note that “highway” has a fairly broad definition under the Motor Vehicle Act);
- The name of the owner and the driver must be unknown and ascertainable . This means that the injured part must make all reasonable efforts to identify the owner and driver. This also means that you can’t claim against ICBC because you lost or forgot the name of the owner or driver;
- ICBC must be notified immediately, and no later than six months after the accident; and
- Like any other lawsuit, the plaintiff must still prove that the other party was at fault.
If you are injured in a hit and run, you should contact a lawyer immediately to confirm what deadlines and requirements apply to your specific case.