It’s sad to say, but hit and runs are a fairly common occurrence, and they happen most often in parking lots. That’s why it’s very important to always thoroughly check your vehicle upon returning to it. Many parking lots are equipped with cameras so that those who leave the scene of an accident are easily caught. And even if you are not hit in a parking lot, numerous businesses and homes are also fortified with video backup, so as long as you know exactly in what location you were hit and about what time it’s relatively simple for officials to find the offender quickly.
Here’s what to do if you discover you have been the victim of a hit and run:
- Note the date, time and location of the incident
- Ask anyone who may be around is they saw who hit your car and if they can provide a description of the driver and vehicle
- Write down the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Take photos of the damage
- Take note of the vehicles around you and their make, model, and licence plate
- Report the accident to police as soon as possible
- Inform your insurance company, even if you do not plan on making a claim
What If I Don’t Know Exactly Where and When It Happened?
In an ideal world, the other person would have let you know that they hit your vehicle and offered to pay for the damages, whether through their insurance or out of pocket. But the world isn’t often ideal. Unfortunately, many people don’t notice right away when they’ve been hit and run, especially if the damage is on the passenger side, in which case it is very difficult to determine who is responsible.
The only recourse in this situation is to file a claim with your own insurance company. The first thing to do, however, is to head to the nearest police station and file a report with them, which you will need for when you contact your insurance company or broker. If the damage is determined to have been caused by a hit and run you will not be found at fault and your car insurance rates will not go up, but you will be required to pay your deductible.
I Hit An Unoccupied Vehicle
We are all well aware of the fact that if you hit a vehicle with nobody in it, you must ensure the owner of the other vehicle knows who you are and what happened. Section 69 of the Traffic Safety Act is the defining section dealing with hit and run accidents in Alberta, and it is clear in that if you hit a parked car, you must leave written notice in a conspicuous place, which is usually underneath the windshield wiper.
- Contact information
- Licence plate number
- Drivers licence number
Take photos of your vehicle and the vehicle you hit to assist in the processing of your claim if you and the owner of the other vehicle decide to file. Depending on the situation, you may choose to pay for damages out of pocket. Remember, again, however, that any accident resulting in $2,000 or more in damage must be reported to the police. Given the high value of vehicles these days it is very easy to reach that number.
If You Are Found Guilty of a Hit-and-Run
Hit-and-runs, failure to remain at the scene of an accident, and failure to report an accident are all the same offence under Alberta law. Being found guilty will result in at least seven demerit points on your license. This will also result in a rise in your auto insurance rates, and, in fact, it is not unusual for insurance agencies to cancel the policies of those who have been found guilty of leaving the scene of an accident.
A criminal charge can be applied under the criminal code of Canada, technically for “failing to stop at the scene of the accident.” Penalties range from heavy fines to time spent in prison. Even more serious, consequences become much more severe for those who are found to have been under the influence of alcohol and/or who caused injury to another person, with possible prison time of 10 years or more, depending on the severity of the incident.
Trust Lane’s for All of Your Car Insurance Needs
Lane’s Insurance is a certified brokerage covering all of Alberta. We work for you, not the insurance companies, which means that not only can we mitigate on your behalf and ask the right questions so you get the answers you need, we can also shop around for you from the numerous policies provided by the respected providers we work with to get you better coverage for less. Contact us at our Calgary, Edmonton, Banff or greater Alberta offices to see what we can do for you.