Imagine this: you’re driving home from a long day of work in Toronto, and boom! Someone hits your vehicle with theirs. The moments after a car accident can be frightening, painful, and confusing, and you may think that you’re imagining things when you see the other vehicle peel away, leaving the scene of the accident. You’ve now been a victim of a hit-and-run accident.
While some drivers are aware of what to do after a vehicle collision, many are unsure about how to handle a hit-and-run incident. In this post, we will discuss the best ways to handle this kind of traumatic incident, and how the help of an experienced hit-and-run lawyer can help ensure a positive outcome to your traumatic ordeal. Knowing what to do when a hit-and-run driver leaves the accident scene can help protect you and provide the police with more information to catch them.
Why Do Hit and Run Accidents Happen?
A hit-and-run is an accident where two or more vehicles collide, and at least one driver leaves the scene of the accident.
Why do drivers leave the accident scene? There could be many reasons:
They’re embarrassed or worried that they caused the accident
They are driving without insurance
They may have an expired licence, suspended licence, or no driver’s licence at all
They’ve been drinking and are afraid of a driving while intoxicated charge
They are in a rush to get somewhere (claiming an emergency) and didn’t have time to stop
Leaving the scene of a car accident is a crime, no matter how good someone thinks their reasons are. The consequences depend on the severity of the accident and can include steep fines and even jail time. Anyone caught leaving the scene of a vehicle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident may be charged under the provincial statute of Ontario and the Criminal Code of Canada.
I’ve Been Involved in a Hit-and-Run Accident. What Should I Do Next?
If you notice the hit-and-run car leaving the scene, try to note as much information about it and the driver as possible. Take a photo or video with your phone, or memorize key details like the make, model, or license plate number.
Next, call the police and emergency services. Tell the dispatch operator that you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident and any information about the car you can remember. They can have emergency services go to the scene and gather information for the official accident report, give you medical treatment, and dispatch other officers to look for the car that hit you.
Before the police arrive, gather any witness statements and contact information you can. Sometimes, witnesses may not wait around for the police to arrive, so it’s important that you get the information police will need to follow up and catch the other vehicle. Note any businesses that may have cameras – they may have captured footage of the accident.
The Importance of a Police Report After an Accident
Even if you don’t feel hurt or there isn’t much damage to your vehicle, you should always file a police report after a hit-and-run accident. Ontario law requires car accidents to be reported to the police. And the person that hit you should be charged with a crime. If your car was parked and you notice that someone hit it and left, you should still file a police report at your local collision reporting center, submitting photos of the damage.
After a hit-and-run, your car insurance collision coverage should pay for the damages to the vehicle and your medical costs, depending on your policy. But, your insurance provider will likely require a police report to back up the accident insurance claim.
Finally, call an experienced car accident lawyer to review your case. If someone else caused the accident then they are responsible for reimbursing your medical expenses and paying to repair or replace your damaged vehicle.
Does Insurance Cover Hit-and-Runs in a Parking Lot?
Hit-and-run accidents are common in parking lots. The other driver may leave their contact information on your car, but usually, people leave and hope that no one notices the hit-and-run incident. Even though the accident wasn’t on the road, and even if no one in either car was injured, this is still a crime and one that Ontario police take seriously.
Many commercial buildings and multi-family residential properties are equipped with security cameras, so there’s a good chance your accident was captured on film. Make sure to take your own video and photo evidence, too, for the police and your insurance company. Then, take your car to a body shop to have the damage appraised – it’s good to get a quote independent from your insurance company. In addition, your personal injury lawyer will use this information to build your case against the other driver and the amount you’re seeking for damages.
Reporting a Hit-and-Run Accident To Your Auto Insurer
Unfortunately, the police may never find the driver that hit you, so you may have to pay for the repairs to your vehicle yourself and your collision deductible. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible – the day of the accident if you can – to report the hit-and-run claim. Your policy may include hit-and-run coverage, so read it carefully, so you know what to do.
Most insurance companies will not pay a hit-and-run claim unless you’ve reported the accident to the police, so be sure to do that. Submit copies of the police report and your own statement about what happened, and be sure to include the pictures you took of the damage.
Wynperle Law Supports Hit-and-Run Accident Victims
If you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident in Ontario, we are here to help. Wynperle Law is a personal injury firm that specializes in car accidents of all kinds, from multi-car pile-ups to hit-and-run collisions. We practice exclusively in Personal Injury cases and are experts in this type of litigation. More importantly, we are beside you every step of the way, from working with police to help catch the driver that hit you to settling the case in a court of law. Don’t try to navigate this complex process alone. Contact Wynperle Law for help getting the compensation you deserve.