What Do I Do After a Hit and Run?
Hit and run accidents happen every day in Alberta. They range from nicking a car in a parking lot as you are backing up – causing such a small scratch or dent you assume the other driver will not notice – to a collision that leaves another person critically injured. If you are behind the wheel when any of these accidents happen, and you drive away, you could be charged with a crime.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I HIT A CAR THEN DRIVE AWAY?
Section 320.16 (1) of the Criminal Code states that every person in control of any conveyance is committing a crime if they are involved in an accident with another person or vehicle and do not stay on the scene and give their name and address to the other party. This avoidance of responsibility can result in a fine, license suspension and possibly a jail sentence. Anyone who has committed a hit and run is strongly advised to seek the advice of a lawyer. We know everyone makes mistakes, and in a moment of panic, you may have made the wrong decision.
DO I HAVE TO BE DRIVING AN AUTOMOBILE TO BE CHARGED?
The offence of leaving the scene of an accident is not limited to automobile accidents. The charge includes any motorized vehicle or conveyance such as a boat, snowmobile or aircraft.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT FOR A HIT AND RUN?
In Alberta, the Traffic Safety Act (TSA) states that penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident include a fine up to $2,000, seven demerit points and up to six months in jail. Under the Criminal Code, you could face a maximum prison term of 10 years for a hit and run, with that penalty increasing to 14 years if someone was hurt in the accident or life imprisonment if someone died.
WHAT STEPS SHOULD I TAKE AFTER AN ACCIDENT?
Section 69 of the province's TSA sets out what drivers of vehicles involved directly or indirectly in an accident must do. The main points are to remain at the scene, render all reasonable assistance and provide your name, address, licence plate number and proof of insurance to the other party or police if they attend.
To help defend your case, record the date, time, and exact location of the accident, plus the vehicle's direction. If there was adverse weather or road conditions, make a note of that and anything unusual with the other parties involved in the accident.
WHAT IF SOMEONE ELSE WAS DRIVING MY CAR AT THE TIME?
If another person driving your vehicle is involved in a hit and run, and the police can ascertain a licence plate number but not the identity of the driver s. 160 (1) of the TSA puts the responsibility for the accident on your shoulders.
WHAT IF I HIT A PARKED CAR WITH NO ONE IN IT?
If you strike a parked car, you are obligated to leave a written notice in a conspicuous place (such as under the windshield wiper), giving your name, address, driver's licence number and licence plate information.
WHAT IF I AM THE VICTIM OF A HIT AND RUN?
If you return to your car and find it has been damaged by another vehicle, report it to the police and then your insurance company (unless you choose to pay for the damage yourself). However, keep in mind that any accident resulting in $2,000 or more in damage must be reported to an accident reporting centre.
To help with the investigation into the hit and run:
- Note the date, time and location of the incident.
- Try to locate witnesses who may have a description of the other vehicle.
- Take photos of the damage.
If you happen to see another car driving away after a hit and run, police advise you not to follow the vehicle, as that could endanger the public's safety. Instead, call the police and tell them what happened.
DO I NEED A COLLISION STICKER?
A collision sticker is required by law when damage exceeds $2,000. Damage stickers inform the police that the collision has been reported, and it allows auto body shops to repair the vehicle. Collision stickers are not required when damage is caused by vandalism.
WHAT IS THIS 'A-FORM' POLICE GAVE ME?
An "A-Form" is an Alberta Collision Report Form, standard across the province for reporting vehicle collisions. After you fill in the details, you will receive a copy of the top portion of the form for your records.
CAN I GET MY CAR FIXED AT A BODY SHOP DISCREETLY?
Under Alberta law, auto body shops are prohibited from making collision-related repairs of more than $2,000 to any vehicle that does not have a damage sticker that indicates that the collision has been reported to the police. Auto wreckers are also prohibited from destroying a vehicle damaged in a collision without a police-issued damage sticker. These businesses must contact the police before doing any work on the vehicle if there is no sticker.
WHAT IS THE MVAC PROGRAM?
The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Program (MVAC) is for those injured in a collision, and the at-fault driver does not have insurance, or if it is a hit-and-run where neither the driver nor the vehicle is identified. The injured party may be eligible for compensation through this program in those cases.
Only Alberta residents are eligible for MVAC and only if they are involved in an accident in the province. The accident must be the fault of an uninsured or unknown driver, through no fault of your own, and you must have suffered bodily injury as a result (damage to your car does not count).
The program must be notified within 90 days of the incident. Failure to do so may be grounds for denial of your claim.
The maximum amount of compensation available through MVAC is $200,000 per accident. If more than one person is injured in the same accident, the $200,000 will be split between all injured persons in proportion to the severity of their injuries and the value of their claims.
AFTER AN ACCIDENT, CONTACT US
A personal injury lawyer can help guide you through your options and help you obtain the compensation you need to help you recover from any injuries. They can also make sure that your insurance company does not attempt to limit the compensation that you are owed. Schedule your Free Consultation by calling (403) 452-2011 or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will represent you on a contingency fee basis, so we do not get paid for our time and attention until we settle.