If you are injured in a hit-and-run accident in Alberta, whether as a pedestrian, a cyclist or while driving your own motor vehicle, you may still be able to get compensation for your injuries. The Government of Alberta, through the Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund, will pay compensation up to $200,000 for personal injury claims brought by individuals who are injured in motor vehicle collisions that were caused by an unknown and unidentified driver. Also, if you have insurance coverage through your own automobile insurer in the form of a SEF 44 Family Protection Endorsement, which provides coverage to you in the event that you are injured in a collision caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you may also have a claim under your own insurance policy as illustrated by this Alberta case.
How to Access the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund in the Case of a Hit-and-Run
To qualify for compensation through the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund, the relevant legislation requires that you make all reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the hit-and-run driver. As this Alberta case illustrates though, you are not required to incur substantial expenses in your efforts to identify that driver. Also, the legislation requires that the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund be provided with written notice of your potential claim within 90 days of the collision, failing which they may deny compensation to you. As in any personal injury litigation, you will also be required to prove that the accident was caused by the negligence of the hit-and-run driver and to prove the extent of the damages that you have sustained as a result of your injuries.
Steps to Take After a Hit-and-Run
In addition to obtaining the necessary medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible, the following are some important steps to take if you are injured in a hit-and-run collision:
- Try to obtain a detailed description of the vehicle that struck you – what was the make, model, and color of the vehicle? What province or state was the license plate issued in? What was the license plate number (even a partial plate number can assist the police in tracking down the vehicle)?
- If possible, take photos of the accident scene and the damage that was done to your vehicle or bicycle.
- Call 911 from the scene of the accident to report the collision and ask for the police to come to the scene. If they are unable to attend, proceed to a police station to report the accident. It is extremely important that you report the accident to the police immediately so that they can take steps to try and identify the at-fault party. Doing this will also help to defend against any argument that the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund may make that you failed to take reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the at-fault driver.
- If there were witnesses to the accident, ask them if they were able to obtain a description of the at-fault vehicle and obtain any other information that they may have regarding the accident. If possible, make notes of what they tell you at the scene, and also make sure that you obtain the names and contact information of all witnesses.
- Make other detailed notes relating to the accident, including the date, time, and specific location of the collision, the direction of travel of your vehicle and the vehicle that struck you, how fast you and the vehicle that struck you were going, traffic control devices in the area, the weather conditions, and the road conditions. Also, make a note of any obstructions that hampered visibility at the time of the collision.
- Immediately report the accident and your injuries to your own automobile insurance company. By doing so, you will be eligible to receive Accident Benefits under Section B of your own automobile policy. If your vehicle is damaged and you have collision coverage, they will assist you in obtaining the necessary repairs or, if your vehicle can’t be repaired, they will pay you out for the value of your vehicle. If you do not have collision coverage, you should still take your vehicle to a mechanic for an assessment of the damages and an estimate of the repair costs.
- Determine whether there were surveillance cameras near the scene of the accident. If so, it is possible that the hit-and-run may have been recorded, and these recordings might help in identifying the vehicle and driver involved. You may also consider posting signs in the area where the accident occurred, posting inquiries on social media, or placing an ad in the local newspapers to see if anyone has information about your accident and the identity of the at-fault driver.
- Take photographs of your injuries and save any items of personal property that were damaged such as torn clothing, a broken watch, bent bike tires, etc. These items can be useful as evidence to prove that you were involved in an accident.
- Save all receipts for any expenses you incur in connection with the accident and your injuries, including prescription or over-the-counter medications, crutches or other medical aids, physiotherapy, chiropractic or massage therapy treatments, parking expenses for medical appointments, vehicle repair costs, the cost of a rental vehicle, etc. Also, if you receive assistance in caring for your injuries or in doing your normal household chores, keep track of who is helping you out, the specific help they are providing to you (snow shoveling, lawn mowing, etc.), how much time they are spending doing these things for you and, if applicable, how much you are paying them.
- Consult an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to obtain information and advice regarding your potential personal injury claim, including the procedures that must be followed in obtaining compensation from the Administrator of the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund and your own automobile insurance company.
We sincerely hope that you will never need to use any of the above information. If, however, you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, please CONTACT the friendly, helpful and knowledgeable lawyers at CAM LLP for a free consultation.