Court Rules That Victims Of Hit And Run Accidents Are Not To Be Held To A Standard Of Perfection

There is a common misconception that a victim of a hit and run accident can simply report the matter to ICBC and the police, and then do nothing else.


This is, in fact, not the case, and following such a path will likely result in ICBC and/or a court dismissing your claim. Under British Columbia law, it is incumbent upon victims of hit and run accidents to make “reasonable efforts” to ascertain the identity of the driver and/or owner of the vehicle that caused the hit and run accident. It is important to bear in mind that you do not have to actually find the driver and/or owner of the offending vehicle, but that you have made “reasonable efforts” to do so. Whether or not a claimant has made “reasonable efforts” will depend on the circumstances of each case.


In addition to notifying ICBC and the police of the circumstances of the hit and run accident, “reasonable efforts” include placing posters at the scene of the accident asking for witnesses, placing online ads asking for witnesses, placing an ad in the newspaper, speaking to residents in the area of the accident, and speaking to local merchants and businesses near the area of the accident.


In Ghuman v. ICBC, the Plaintiff sustained injuries after being involved in a hit and run accident, with the offending driver fleeing the scene shortly after the accident. The Plaintiff commenced formal legal proceedings, naming ICBC as a nominal Defendant.


Steps taken by the Plaintiff to ascertain the identity of the driver and/or owner of the other vehicle included notifying ICBC, notifying the police, posting flyers at the scene, and running an ad in the newspaper.


ICBC’S lawyer argued that the Plaintiff did not make “reasonable efforts” to ascertain the identity of the other driver and/or owner, as he did not follow up with the police after initially reporting the accident, and as he did not speak with local businesses in the area.


In ruling that the Plaintiff did indeed make “reasonable efforts”, thereby satisfying section 24(5) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act, the Court commented,


[72] I wish to make it very clear that there is no admissible evidence before me that those efforts (canvassing for video surveillance and/or seeking records of potential witnesses that may have come forward to nearby businesses) were made. However, in the circumstances of this case, I would not consider such extensive efforts necessary in order for this plaintiff to comply with s. 24(5). Given the distances of the surrounding businesses from the Collision site and the layout of the area, I accept there would have been little benefit in contacting businesses for video surveillance and/or records of people who may have come forward to those businesses. Such efforts would be highly unlikely to produce any results.


[73] In the end, Mr. Ghuman is not to be held to the standard of perfection. Even if the timing of his telephone call to police and his lack of follow up with police could be viewed as something less than reasonable in and of themselves, I agree with the plaintiff that what is reasonable in all of the circumstances of one case does not rise and fall on a single effort. What sets this case apart from other cases provided is that Mr. Ghuman was faced with a driver who immediately fled the scene of a low impact type of accident in an area with transient traffic, surrounded by parking lots. Despite these obvious limitations in obtaining information regarding that vehicle’s identity, Mr. Ghuman nevertheless chose to take several positive steps to investigate. He was proactive from the outset. That he was unsuccessful is of no consequence. All that is required is that he take all reasonable steps to ascertain the identity of the unknown driver and owner of the SUV. I find that he did in the circumstances of this case.


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