In a “Hit & Run” scenario where someone’s vehicle collides with yours (or with you as a pedestrian), your legal claim for compensation can be dismissed if you do not make reasonable efforts to ascertain the identity of the unknown owner or driver of the vehicle.

Section 24 (5) of the Insurance (Vehicle) Act requires that if ICBC is named as a nominal defendant in a lawsuit (which would be the case if you started a lawsuit to claim compensation for injuries, but do not know the identity of the driver that hit you), you must make all reasonable efforts to ascertain the driver’s (or owner’s) identity AND prove in Court that his/her identity was not ascertainable despite your efforts.

The purpose of this section is to discourage persons who have hurt themselves as a result of their own negligence from trying to recover compensation for hose injuries by inventing an unknown driver (Houniet v. ICBC, [1991] B.C.J. No. 692.).

It’s important to note that what will constitute reasonable efforts will vary from case to case depending on the circumstances of each accident, but certainly you should a) forthwith call ICBC to report the accident, b) forthwith call 911 to report the accident and ask them to attend, c) take pictures of the accident scene to note the weather and road conditions (if safe for you to do so), and d) take the names and contact information of any witnesses to the accident.

Beyond the foregoing, you may also want to consider: placing signage at the accident scene asking for additional witnesses to come forward who may be of assistance in locating the unidentified driver, and advertising on Craigslist and local newspapers asking for any further witnesses to come forward. Keep copies of the signage and the advertisements for your records.

In the days, weeks and months after the accident, you should consider contacting the police and ICBC (verbally and in writing) for periodic updates regarding their investigations about identity of the driver/owner. These may become valuable later at trial if ICBC alleges you did not take all reasonable efforts to identify the driver/owner. Keep copies of your correspondence and any responses.

The case law relating to section 24 is ever changing, and what constitutes “reasonable” in one case may not be considered so in another. The more efforts undertaking in a timely way, the better. Untimely efforts (those commenced far after the hit and run) may not be considered reasonable. Consult a lawyer for specifics on how to avoid jeopardizing your claim by failing to take necessary, reasonable steps.