If you’re a car owner in Ontario, there’s a good chance you’ve been in an accident at some point.
Unfortunately, many drivers choose to leave the scene of an accident without identifying themselves.
These accidents can be terrifying, and it can be difficult to know what to do if you’re involved in one.
No one ever expects to be involved in a hit-and-run accident, but it can happen to anyone. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident in Ontario, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and ensure that the perpetrator is held accountable.
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What is a Hit and Run?
What constitutes a hit-and-run accident in Ontario is governed by section 199 of the Highway Traffic Act. According to this legislation, an individual can be charged with leaving the scene if they are involved in “an accident that causes personal injury or damage to property” and fail to give their name, address, driver’s license number, and insurance information to the parties involved. The official term for a hit and run is failure to remain.
This is could happen in many different scenarios including hitting a parked car, rear-ending someone, or hitting a cyclist and leaving the scene.
A motorist who is involved in an accident, whether it’s a collision with another vehicle, motorcycle, pedestrian, or bicyclist, is obligated by law to remain at the scene until the police arrive. They must also give whatever assistance necessary, provide any information the police or the victim may require, and inform the authorities if the damage exceeds $1,000.
Anybody who does not remain at the scene of an accident is in violation of the law and is guilty of a hit-and-run.
Hit and Run Penalties
In Ontario, there are two types of hit-and-run charges. They can be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada or the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario.
A criminal offence is taken against a driver who is charged under the Criminal Code. This occurs when a motorist fails to stop at the scene of an accident. Hit-and-run charges under the Criminal Code are usually reserved for situations in which a pedestrian or cyclist is harmed.
When someone is charged under the Highway Traffic Act for failing to remain at the scene of an accident, it’s treated as a traffic citation. This is most common when someone hits a parked car or collides with another driver while driving and just drives away.
The penalty for a hit-and-run crime under the criminal code is severe. When the victim is unharmed and the driver is accused of failing to stop, they can be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison. If they are accused of failing to stop or remain and the victim has been harmed, it could result in 10 years of jail time, or a criminal negligence charge.
What To Do After a Hit and Run Incident
If you’re involved in a hit and run, there are several steps you should take as soon as possible. If the other driver does not leave their information or remain at the scene of an accident, there may be some initial confusion about what happened and who is responsible for certain damages.
Taking these steps will help protect yourself and your interests.
Note the first two steps are interchangeable depending on the severity of the accident.
Collect Vehicle Information
The first thing you should do following a hit-and-run accident is to take down as much information as possible about the fleeing vehicle, even if it’s just what you remember. Things like the vehicle make/model, color, license plate number, and driver description can go a long way.
Seek Medical Attention
Before doing anything else, you should make sure that any injuries caused by the accident have been appropriately cared for. This includes calling an ambulance if needed.
Check for Damages
It’s important to note exactly how much damage has occurred after an accident like this. Be on the lookout for any body damage, paint scratches, wheel rims, or headlights that could indicate the other driver’s involvement. Also note whether the damage was caused by just one impact or if there were multiple collisions before the hit and run occurred.
Get Witness Information
If possible, try to find witnesses who can provide information about what happened in the accident. This will help you substantiate your claim against the perpetrator. Record their names and contact information so you can include them as part of your claim later on.
Take Photos of the Accident Scene
Evidence is everything when it comes to seeking compensation for damages because it helps prove how severe they are and who might be responsible. It’s best to take photos immediately after an incident like this so they accurately depict what has happened to your vehicle and/or bicycle. If possible, you should also document the initial scene with a time-stamped video as well as photographs of any identifying markers such as medians, street signs, security cameras, or storefronts near where the hit and run occurred.
After your injuries have been documented and you have any information that can be used to identify the hit and run driver involved in the accident, it’s time to call the police. It is a criminal offense not to remain at an accident scene if someone has been harmed. The investigating officer will need to come take your statement and/or collect evidence from your bicycle or car. Be sure to tell them everything you know about what happened, including details about how exactly the crash took place and whether there any witnesses.
Notify Your Car Insurance Company
Lastly, you’ll want to notify your insurance provider. Since only the driver is named in the claim, you’ll have to report the damages under your policy. Hit-and-run accidents are the only sort of vehicle collision in which you aren’t at fault but must cover your deductible. This is due to the fact that no other insurance provider will pay for the losses under their driver’s liability policy.
In Ontario, if you don’t have collision coverage, you won’t be able to get compensation for the vehicle’s damage. You must report the incident to the police within 24 hours of it happening, and you can usually notify your insurance carrier after doing so. If the third party is unknown, your collision coverage will cover the damages and you’ll be required to pay your deductible.
Because you were not at blame, your premium will not be increased as a result of a hit and run. You only need to worry about the deductible.
Speak With a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you’re injured in a hit-and-run, it’s important to consider hiring a hit and run lawyer. They can make sure that all of your needs are met while the incident is being investigated by the police and/or insurance companies. A skilled representative can also help prevent important evidence from being lost or ignored when trying to get the claim processed.
If you’re in an accident, it’s important to think quickly and take down as much information about the fleeing car as possible. This will help identify the driver so you can make a claim against them. You should also seek medical attention for any injuries, document the scene with photos and videos, and notify your insurance company. Best of luck to all of you out there who may find yourselves in this situation!
Does insurance cover hit-and-run Ontario?
A hit-and-run accident will be covered under your collision coverage, which is why you must pay the deductible on your insurance/policy. There is no coverage alternative on your policy that would cover a hit-and-run incident.
Will a hit-and-run claim raise my insurance?
If you’re not at fault in the hit-and-run your insurance claim will not raise your insurance rates. If you are deemed at fault, your insurance will likely raise.
Do insurance companies investigate hit and runs?
Yes. Your insurance company will look into the hit-and-run just as it would with other car accidents. They’ll do a separate investigation to determine culpability, which isn’t part of the police report.
How does a hit and run affect insurance?
The consequences of a hit-and-run accident on your insurance are dependent on the circumstances. If you can’t identify the driver who caused damage to your car, your claim will be covered under collision insurance. However, the deductible is required by your insurer.
If you can figure out who’s responsible, your insurance will pay for the loss under the direct compensation property damage (DCPD) portion of your policy. This typically has no deductible. This is why having a witness might be beneficial. Identifying the offender may help you save money on the deductible by ensuring they are held accountable for the damage.
If the motorist is identified and does not have insurance, Uninsured Motorist Coverage will apply. This is standard in all policies.