What is a Hit and Run Accident?
One of the most traumatic events in a person’s life is a Hit and Run accident. Such incidents tend to leave you rattled, both physically and emotionally. When a random stranger collides with you or your vehicle, there is always the chance that they could flee the scene to avoid getting caught. This kind of case is considered when a driver commits criminal negligence during a road mishap; the driver is liable for leaving behind victims with injuries and/or destroying their property.
Even if no one got injured in a road incident, it could sometimes lead to sleepless nights and thousands of hours spent dealing with insurance companies and filing reports with police and insurance companies. If someone else is involved in these mishaps – things only get worse.
Hit-and-run accidents are illegal in Canada and are punishable under federal and provincial laws, which result in penalties or imprisonment. If someone dies because of this kind of case, the criminal charges can include homicide charges. In some cases, negligent drivers might flee from the scene because they do not have proper insurance coverage or enough money to pay damage claims filed by their victims. They might also be intoxicated while committing the crime, or they could even be an underage teenager without a valid driver’s license.
Who is Responsible?
The motor vehicle driver and its owner can be held responsible for this case, and some provinces may even extend this liability to include those who rent, borrow or lend a car. They are equally accountable under the law if they neglect to report the casualties or provide aid to victims after the incident.
A legal counsel with expertise in this kind of case can help you file a claim against any of these parties but obtaining compensation might not be that easy – especially if the at-fault party’s identity is unknown. You may need to prove that there is negligence on the person driving in the incident, which led to the injuries (or property damage).
If the personal injury lawyer succeeds in proving such facts, you could receive payment for:
- medical expenses
- Suffering and pain
- income loss and other damages
Types of Hit & Run Cases
Here are the different types of this case that may lead to legal consequences for the perpetrator:
Two Vehicles Collide Head-On
There is a possibility of one or both drivers leaving the scene fearing police action or hefty fines. Even if there were no life-threatening injuries, they could still be severe enough to cause life-altering injuries.
Rear-Ender: Vehicle hit from Behind
Drivers sometimes leave the scene after bumping into another vehicle. They could be negligent (or distracted), leading to such a hazard, and may not stop to check for damage or injuries caused to other people on the road.
Cases with Pedestrians as Victims
These are usually cases that cause life-threatening injuries as the human body is not meant to take damage from an oncoming vehicle. Pedestrian accidents can suffer broken bones and various internal and external injuries, which leads to the need for extensive medical treatment and lengthy rehabilitation sessions.
Case Involving Cyclists
Drivers failing to see bicycles or motorcycles on the road may bump into them and cannot stop. Serious injuries or even death may result.
Cases Involving Public Transport
Buses, trains, and other vehicles operating on fixed routes may damage another car or pedestrian, especially if their drivers are distracted or negligent leading to such incidents. Generally, these types of vehicles have the right-of-way so fault is usually on the part of the motorist.
Building your Case for a Hit and Run Case
Proof of Innocence or Non-liability
After the incident, you should keep all documents related to medical treatment and property damage. If you decide to hire a legal representative for compensation from the at-fault party, you will also need these papers and any and all associated documentation. Your lawyer might ask you to provide other essential information like:
- Police report
Securing one from the local authorities can help you prove your case in court.
These could include images of injuries or loss of property. They can be helpful during negotiations with insurance companies as well as during litigation. Make sure you take clear shots that show each object clearly without making any adjustments to the images.
- Witness Statements
These could be useful if you were unable to see any witnesses at the scene of the circumstance. However, you should not delegate this task to your lawyer. Speak up if you recall something important, and highlight specific aspects such as appearance, clothing, car information, and so on.
If possible, try to document your case without involving your car insurance company or other third parties (other than legal reps). If they know that you are trying to press charges against their client (the at-fault party), they might target you with discriminatory treatment during negotiations which could work against your interests in court.
Cooperation with the Local Authorities
Suppose an officer arrives at the scene to take your report and suffers injuries requiring medical treatment. In that case, you should cooperate with the police without revealing too much information pertaining to the case- always talk to a lawyer before the police. Do not provide them any statements either because these can be used against you later in court. You may get into trouble giving false information (to the police), which is a crime under specific provincial laws so also refrain from lying in any way.
Compensation for a Hit and Run Accident
If you have suffered injury or property damage, you may receive compensation for the following losses:
Various health problems can arise, including injuries to the head, neck, back, and extremities, along with broken bones, leading to needing anesthesia surgeries.
The treatment could be costly depending on the extent of damage caused, leaving someone unable to work without any income. You might need help from personal injury lawyers specializing in this type of case to get an estimate of your liability since different provinces follow different rules when totaling costs involved during such situations.
Lost Earning Potential
If you have been unable to work while recovering from injuries sustained, you should receive compensation for this loss of potential income. You might still receive your regular salary after the incident while commuting to or from work. However, suppose the involvement is outside working hours.
In that case, your injury lawyers will need to calculate lost revenue from other sources such as self-employment or a business that could cover a significant period due to extended periods of absence caused by the vehicular misfortune.
If another car collides with yours, causing significant damage that renders it undrivable, you may be entitled to compensation for repairs. Property damage could also involve your vehicle being towed away by local law enforcement. You could also receive compensation for loss of use if you cannot drive your car because it is in the repair shop.
Pain and Suffering
When a victim sustains severe injuries and experiences pain and suffering depending on the extensive damages, this may lead to people needing prolonged medical treatment or resulting disabilities that alter their lifestyles drastically. Liability should also consider the damages caused by such cases since the victims may end up with long-term problems that require the help of a personal injury lawyer.
There is a possibility of criminal charges and civil liability for injuries and property damage to the victims. The penalties depend on provincial laws as well as the severity of casualty leading to such payments.
Here are such cases that liable drivers may face:
- Summary or indictable offense Charges
These depend on whether or not there were any serious injuries or fatalities at the scene. Even if no one is injured, the defendant is usually charged with a summary offense with enhanced penalties if there’s minor injury or damage to another vehicle or property. Vehicular manslaughter might also be charged depending on the consequences of negligent driving, which may lead to lengthy jail terms along with heavy fines.
However, most provinces have minimum jail sentences required for summary offense convictions, which depend on the driver’s age and whether or not there were any injuries. Indictable Offences are usually applied if liable drivers cause severe injuries or fatalities or involve gross negligence.
- License Suspension
License suspension depends on provincial laws since different provinces have different penalties applying to these cases. There may also be brief suspensions until other events, such as court hearings, resulting in far-reaching consequences related to being unable to drive.
Some provinces allow judges to order probation for first-time offenders depending on other factors like a criminal record, severity, damages caused, etc. Probation leads to reporting monthly to a designated probation officer who monitors activities during the term, including employment status, utilizing monthly reports.
Accountable Drivers may be responsible for paying damages determined by personal injury lawyers, including medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, and more.
- Community Service
Depending on the judge’s discretion, this is frequently enforced instead of or in addition to imprisonment. Responsible drivers may be required to volunteer at a local hospital or a nonprofit organization or even take rehabilitation programming.
The punishments for this kind of case can vary depending on the specific facts of the case. In most cases, they can range from 30 days to numerous years in prison. The driver might receive a prison sentence if they were under the influence or if they had a criminal history.
Fines usually follow jail sentences and restitution to victims depending on provincial rules for penalties applying in these said cases. Fines can go up to $10,000+ and other expenses like legal counsel fees when hiring one for these cases to take civil action against an offending party.
- License Revocation
Receiving a negligent driving penalty can lead to suspension of your driver’s license after subsequent violations. However, if you cause a road mishap while violating these conditions, your license might be revoked indefinitely until you clear all charges filed against you, including accident charges.
License revocation can render you jobless, unable to provide for yourself or your family, resulting in bankruptcy and time spent in jail if you cannot afford fines and restitution required from the guilty party in court hearings.
Hit-and-run often makes it difficult for you to seek compensation or justice after a collision. However, this does not mean that you should give up hope on finding the person responsible for your injuries. A dedicated accident lawyer could help you get justice even if your perpetrator had managed to flee from the scene of the crime. If you were involved in one of these incidents, you should contact a hit-and-run lawyer to know if a claim is possible against the person responsible for your injuries.
Incidents such as these should not be taken lightly or forgotten, especially when it causes serious injuries or fatalities. Ensure that you hire a hit-and-run accident lawyer who can adequately advise on the best course of action, secure compensation for all the damages, and get the guilty person brought to book.