What Happens If Someone Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

By law, anyone involved in a car accident must remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. Leaving the scene after a collision results in Failing to Stop at the Scene of an Accident, a criminal offence with potentially serious penalties. This attempt to avoid responsibility is better known as a hit and run. The law extends beyond just fleeing the scene. If the driver fails to assist anyone injured in the accident, such as not calling emergency services, or will not provide his or her name to the other driver, such actions are also considered a criminal offence.

Hit and run sentences

A hit and run may involve a crash between two motor vehicles, or a collision between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian or cyclist in which the driver leaves the scene. The driver may face up to five years in prison for failing to stop at the scene. However, if another person received serious injuries, and the driver was aware of this, the maximum penalty is ten years in prison. If the driver killed another person and fled, life in prison is a possibility.

Impairment and hit and run

Drivers may leave the scene of an accident for various reasons, but often because they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs or otherwise impaired at the time. The same holds true for those driving recklessly or speeding. By leaving the scene, these drivers hinder the investigation into the causes of the crash.

Single vehicle accidents

The law differs if the situation involves a single vehicle, and there are no injuries. Examples include a car hitting a fence or building or causing other property damage and the driver leaving the scene. Under such circumstances, the driver must take “reasonable steps” to determine the property owner, and then notify them in writing about the collision. The statement must include details about the accident, but the driver is not required to stay at the scene. However, there is no reason the driver cannot stay at the scene and report the accident to the police.

ICBC and hit and run

If a person is injured by a hit and run driver or finds their vehicle damaged – as may occur in a parking lot accident in which the other driver leaves the scene –the ICBC will cover the claim.

File a police report immediately. If you saw the hit and run driver, describe the vehicle and driver to the best of your ability. Obtain the license plate number if possible. Let the police know in which direction the car was heading. If injured, get prompt medical treatment.

Report the claim to the ICBC within six months – but sooner is better. British Columbia residents are covered for up to $200,000 for resulting injuries or property damage, as well as if the accident proved fatal. However, if more than one person files a claim regarding the same hit and run accident, the $200,000 is divided among all claimants.

If the accident occurs outside the province, the ICBC does not provide collision coverage unless the resident has already bought ICBC collision coverage. There is a $750 deductible on standard ICBC coverage for those opting not to purchase ICBC collision coverage. No deductible is involved for medical expenses after a hit and run. Such an accident does not affect ICBC insurance premiums.

If the individual is not fully covered for medical expenses, ICBC coverage may include payment for:

  • Hospital and medical bills
  • Rehabilitation
  • Disability payments

If the hit and run accident results in death, the ICBC may cover funeral expenses and death benefits for the deceased’s survivors.

Vehicles damaged by a hit and run driver are inspected by the ICBC, and an evaluation is provided. Once the ICBC approves the repair estimates, take your car to your preferred repair facility.

Those living outside of British Columbia also receive ICBC coverage for a hit and run within the province, but limits vary according to their legal residence.

Contact a Vancouver car accident lawyer

If you or someone you know were involved in a hit and run accident, our ICBC law firm can help you during this difficult time. Arrange a free consultation by contacting us online or calling today. We can handle the ICBC paperwork process and negotiate with the agency on your behalf.

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