Although we may not think about it every time we sit behind the wheel, the chances of getting into an accident while we’re on the road linger in the back of our minds. And when we do get into an accident, we expect the other party to be cooperative. Unfortunately, sometimes drivers will get scared and leave the scene of an accident, leaving us behind with the bill for injuries and property damage.
Hit-and-run accidents in Toronto are a big deal, and they don’t just happen between two drivers. Last year was the deadliest year for pedestrian deaths in a decade in Toronto, some of which were caused by hit-and-run drivers. Shockingly, pedestrians are involved in more than half of all Toronto traffic collision fatalities.
So, what should you do if you’ve been involved in a hit-and-run accident in Toronto? Here are three things to know.
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1. Make Sure to Report the Accident to Police
This seems like a no-brainer, but police know how to handle and document hit-and-run accidents. Keep in mind that it’s illegal to leave the scene of an accident under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Per s. 252 of the Criminal Code, failure to stop at the scene of an accident is defined as:
“Every person commits an offence who has the care, charge or control of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft that is involved in an accident with
(a) another person,
(b) a vehicle, vessel or aircraft, or
(c) in the case of a vehicle, cattle in the charge of another person,
and with intent to escape civil or criminal liability fails to stop the vehicle, vessel or, if possible, the aircraft, give his or her name and address and, where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance.”
Police may use either the federal Criminal Code (“fail to stop”) or The Highway Traffic Act of Ontario (“fail to remain”) to charge a hit-and-run driver.
Anyone who is found guilty of failure to stop at the scene of an accident could be sent to prison for five years at minimum, and up to 10 years for an accident causing bodily harm. If someone in the accident dies, the hit-and-run offender can be sentenced to life in prison.
The penalties for failing to remain at the scene of an accident — a traffic ticket versus federal criminal code offence — can include fines of up to $2,000, jail time of six months, license suspension, six demerit points, and high-risk insurance rates for three years.
2. Your Insurance Company May Be Able to Compensate You
Most people in Ontario have the minimum insurance coverage that is required under law. That coverage protects you against an uninsured or unidentified driver, up to $200,000, plus $200,000 in liability for damage done to property and another party’s injuries. Accident Benefits also fall under minimum coverage, helping to provide compensation for some lost wages, medical benefits, and other payments no matter who was at fault. In addition, Direct Compensation pays for damage to your vehicle caused by somebody else.
You can be compensated for your loss, even if the at-fault driver has no insurance or can’t be identified, through UIM (Underinsured Motorist Coverage) or Family Protection Endorsement (OPCF 44R) under the Ontario Insurance Act. The Family Protection Endorsement can far exceed the $200,000 minimum to protect you and your family as additional, non-mandatory coverage purchased through your insurance provider, which an auto accident lawyer can review with you.
Remember, insurance companies generally do not compensate you for all of your lost wages after an accident if you’ve been unable to work (there is a maximum percentage for past loss of wages), nor do they automatically compensate for pain and suffering brought on by emotional distress or mental anguish in the aftermath of a hit and run. Only filing a negligence claim or lawsuit will help you recover all possible compensation for damages.
3. A Toronto Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
If you are unsure about your entitlements under your insurance policy and you are involved in a hit-and-run accident, contact Preszler Law Firm for a free consultation.
In addition to criminal charges or Highway Traffic Act charges, anyone who is at fault for an accident in Toronto can be hit with a civil suit. Personal injury lawyers can sue the driver on the victim’s’ behalf for negligence in tort law, as the driver had a duty of care.
If you’ve been injured in a hit and run accident, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible to determine next steps. The law limits the amount of time you have to file a tort claim, usually to two years. A Toronto personal injury lawyer will review your case, determining if you are within the statute of limitations, and help you collect benefits through an Accident Benefits or tort claim.
Contact one of our experienced Toronto personal injury lawyers today for a free case review.
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