Being in a serious car accident is a frightening and difficult experience. While every accident victim’s primary concern is their health and safety, sometimes victims also have to worry about the other driver fleeing the scene.
If you cannot identify the driver who hit you, who will compensate you for your injuries? This article will answer that question, and additionally provide you with tips to access benefits and compensation available to the victims of hit and run accidents.
The first step following any car accident is to ensure your own safety and the safety of your passengers. If you are injured in a car accident, you should call emergency services to the scene of the accident as soon as you are able. Once safety has been addressed, you can take the following steps to protect your rights if the driver who hit you tries to flee the accident scene:
- If possible, get a picture of the other driver’s vehicle and licence plate;
- Record details about the vehicle that hit you (make, model, colour, etc.);
- Record the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident;
- Take pictures of your vehicle at the scene of the accident, and of the area where the accident occurred. It is important to look for traces of the vehicle that hit you. Common examples are tire marks on the road or paint transferred onto your vehicle;
- Record the contact information of anyone who attends the scene of the accident, such as a tow truck driver;
- Report the accident to the police within 24 hours of the accident; and
- Report the damage to your vehicle and the details of the accident to your automobile insurer within 30 days of the accident.
These steps will serve to collect helpful evidence to assist those investigating the accident to identify the driver that hit you, or to prove that you were hit by an unidentified driver. They may also help you prove that the accident was the unidentified driver’s fault.
If you are injured in a hit and run accident, you can apply to your own insurance company for Statutory Accident Benefits. In fact, even if you cannot identify the other driver, Accident Benefits will still be paid by your own insurance company. Accident Benefits can include payments for medical treatment, such as physiotherapy, and a maximum of $400.00 per week of Income Replacement Benefits if the accident prevents you from returning to your employment. Accident Benefits are available regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Claiming Accident Benefits does not increase your insurance premiums. However, if your insurance company determines that you were fully or partially at fault for the accident, your premiums may increase.
Unidentified motorist coverage
Another remedy for victims of hit and run accidents is to start a lawsuit against their own insurance company. In Ontario, it is mandatory under section 265 of the Insurance Act, for all automobile insurance polices to include $200,000.00 of unidentified motorist coverage. To access this coverage, you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours and make a written report of the accident to your insurance company within 30 days.
Under this coverage, your insurance company steps into the place of the unidentified driver. If you can prove that you were injured by an unidentified driver, your insurance company is obligated to compensate you for your provable injuries and losses. The amount of compensation depends on the severity of the injuries and the nature of the losses, such as loss of income or the need for future medical treatment. The potential compensation will be capped at the maximum $200,000.00 under this coverage. Just like with Accident Benefits, suing your own insurance company does not raise your insurance premiums. Being found partially or fully at fault for the accident can raise your premiums.
OPCF 44r – optional family protection coverage
Your insurance policy may also include an optional coverage called the OPCF 44R endorsement. This coverage is typically up to $1,000,000.00, but operates only as excess to other available insurance policies. For example, if you are the victim of a hit and run, and have an automobile insurance policy with a $1,000,000.00 OPCF 44R endorsement, you will have access to the mandatory $200,000.00 unidentified motorist coverage, and your OPCF 44R endorsement can cover you for a further $800,000.00. Therefore, the total coverage available in this scenario is $1,000,000.00.
There are additional requirements to access OPCF 44R coverage following an accident with an unidentified motorist. Sections 1.5 C and D of the OPCF 44R state:
(C) where an eligible claimant alleges that both the owner and driver of an automobile referred to in clause 1.5(b) cannot be determined, the eligible claimant’s own evidence of the involvement of such automobile must be corroborated by other material evidence; and
(D) “other material evidence” for the purposes of this section means
(i) independent witness evidence, other than evidence of a spouse as defined in section 1.10 of this change form or a dependent relative as defined in section 1.2 of this change form; or
(ii) physical evidence indicating the involvement of an unidentified automobile.
Independent witness evidence can include other drivers or pedestrians who witnessed the accident, and police officers, paramedics or others who attend the scene of the accident after the fact. The evidence cannot come from a spouse or dependent relative, but close personal friends or romantic partners who are not spouses can provide corroborative evidence. 
Physical evidence typically includes tire tracks at the scene of the accident or paint transferred from the unidentified vehicle onto the victim’s vehicle. Physical evidence can also include damage to the victim’s vehicle, or injuries to the victim that are consistent with the alleged mechanism of the accident.
How Bogoroch & Associates LLP can help
Our experienced lawyers have a proud track record of obtaining exceptional results for accident victims and their families. No matter how complex your claim is, our experienced lawyers will advocate vigorously on your behalf and make sure your case is managed effectively and promptly. Our many years of experience and personal commitment will help you secure the compensation and benefits you deserve. We will guide you through the justice system with our extensive knowledge, dedication, and compassion because the only acceptable outcome for us is the best possible settlement for you.
Our founding partner, Richard M. Bogoroch, has been recognized as a leading personal injury lawyer by The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and by The Best Lawyers in Canada. The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory and The Best Lawyers in Canada are two highly regarded lawyer rating publications.
If you or your loved one is the victim of a hit and run accident, please contact any of our personal injury lawyers at Bogoroch & Associates LLP for a free consultation.