All car accidents are stressful and potentially life-altering events. Even worse, when an at-fault party flees the scene, it can be difficult to know what you should do next.
Since 1993, James H. Brown and Associates have provided legal services for accident victims across Western Canada, including those injured in hit-and-run auto accidents. Below, you’ll find our top advice for people who have suffered injuries in hit-and-run accidents.
1. Seek Medical Attention
Nothing is more important than your health after an accident. The first and most important step is seeking care for your injuries.
Even if your injuries look and feel “minor,” it is still critical to seek medical attention right away. Why? First and foremost, even if you’re not in severe pain, you may still require immediate treatment to avoid lasting consequences from your injuries. Second, many insurance companies claim that individuals who didn’t immediately seek care probably didn’t sustain serious injuries. It’s a flimsy argument, but it’s one we’ve seen often. Get checked out right away and prevent insurance companies from making it.
While in care, describe your injuries in detail and ensure they are documented by your medical provider. If you file a claim or pursue legal action, these records will be part of determining the amount of compensation you can receive. No detail is too minor. Even minor injuries can affect your claim, especially if they get worse over time—the more documentation you have, the better.
Ensure you receive any applicable diagnostic tests during your treatment. X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and other tests allow complete diagnosis and documentation of your injuries. The more accurately your injuries are diagnosed, the easier it is to prove the accident caused them.
2. File a Police Report
In most accidents causing injuries, police will be on the scene to investigate. Once you’ve looked after your health, give them as much information as you can to help with their investigation. Your report will help the police apprehend the at-fault party, getting you closer to justice and compensation for your injuries. In Alberta, you are legally required to file a report within 24 hours if an accident causes injury.
As soon as an insurance company (either yours or the other party’s) finds out about your accident, they will likely try to obtain a statement from you. Remember: you don’t have to give a statement to your insurance company before seeking legal advice. While it’s alright (and sometimes necessary if you need help with interim medical expenses) to notify your insurance company that an accident occurred, be wary of providing a statement. When you seek compensation for your injuries, some insurance companies may use information in these statements to attempt to hold back funds you and your family need.
3. Document All Damages
Although your healthcare provider and the police will document most damages incurred immediately after your accident, it’s still a good idea to maintain a journal of damages over your recovery period.
What qualifies as “damage?” Damages can be anything from damage to your vehicle, lost days of work, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and more. Unfortunately, hit-and-run claims can take a long time to be resolved. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to save receipts and keep a journal detailing any changes or expenses resulting from the accident. No detail is too small; the more information you can provide to your legal team, the stronger your case will be, and the more likely you are to receive fair compensation.
What Happens If the Driver Isn’t Found?
In Alberta, the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act protects victims injured by uninsured or unknown drivers. The program allows accident victims to sue and receive payment for their injuries. However, this program has numerous limitations, including:
- Only covering compensation for bodily injuries. Property damages are not covered under MVAC.
- Only covering accidents where the uninsured/unknown driver is at fault; in multi-vehicle collisions with several at-fault parties, you are required to seek compensation from them first.
- Having a maximum payout of $200,000.
The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Act is designed to be a “last resort” after all other options for receiving compensation have failed. Accident victims can only file MVAC claims after:
- Investigating all possible insurance coverage, including partial coverage.
- Contacting your insurance company to pay for interim medical expenses – MVAC only pays benefits for interim expenses in unique cases.
- Filing a lawsuit against all person(s) liable for the accident and your injuries.
- Serving a notice of your lawsuit on the liable person(s). If the driver is unknown, you must seek out witnesses and canvass for all available information.
Overall, MVAC claims and settlements should be viewed as the final option for hit-and-run victims; the program was designed for this exact purpose. However, an experienced legal team will help you explore every path to justice and fair compensation for you and your family.
Managing Hit-and-Run Claims with James H. Brown and Associates
Recovering after a serious accident is hard enough without having to worry about getting the compensation you need. James H. Brown and Associates understand this firsthand; that’s why we have an experienced team of accident injury lawyers dedicated to pursuing the justice you and your family deserve, allowing you to focus on recovery.
Over the last thirty years, we’ve learned that no two accidents are alike; that’s why we offer a full range of resources for accident victims and their families, including:
- 200 years of combined injury law experience, including numerous precedent-setting settlements in Alberta.
- Complete accident investigation services, including evidence preservation and accident reconstruction.
- Multi-disciplinary experts and specialists to diagnose your injuries and determine long-term impacts.
- Strong relationships with organizations ready to assist with rehabilitation and recovery.
James H. Brown and Associates remains committed to supporting you and your family through every step of advancing a claim, attaining justice, and getting on the road to recovery.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured in a Hit-and-Run?
Contact us today to book a free, no-obligation consultation with James H. Brown and Associates.