You’ve been in an automobile accident. Although you are certain you weren’t at fault and nobody was seriously injured, like a James Bond martini, you are shaken. What’s more, your car is a total loss. Fortunately, the other driver’s insurer will pay for a new one.
But what if you discover that he or she is uninsured?
All Canadian provinces require owners and operators of vehicles to carry liability insurance with limits at least as those required by law. In British Columbia, the minimum coverage is provided by the government-owned and operated Insurance Corporation of British Columbia.
Driving without mandatory insurance can result in substantial fines, licence suspension or revocation and even time in jail. Yet each year thousands of Canadian drivers take this risk. Exact statistics are difficult to find, but one Ontario-based source estimates that more than 2,000 collisions involving uninsured motorists occur annually in that province. While the total is presumably lower in less populous B.C., it is clear that the problem exists nationwide.
The B.C. Uninsured Motorist Fund
Under provincial law, a B.C. resident whose property is damaged by, or who is injured or killed in a crash on a B.C. highway (which includes almost any public road) that was caused by an uninsured driver may make a claim for up to $200,000. Even pedestrians and other non-drivers are covered. This benefit is provided through a special uninsured motorists’ fund. It is not available in the case of a hit-and-run accident, however. The claimant must be able to identify either the driver or the owner of the vehicle.
What to Do After an Accident
The best things to do after an accident are essentially the same whether or not the other driver is insured, and you have probably heard them before. However, they’re worth repeating.
Get (And Give) Identification. Unless he or she is also driving without an operator’s licence, the other motorist should be willing and able to produce it. You are also obligated to display your licence. If the other car is still drivable, be sure to immediately write down the make, colour and licence tag number. Once an uninsured driver knows the police are on the way (see “Call the Police” below), he or she may panic and flee the scene.
Call the Police. If you believe the other driver is likely to flee, this call can be made discreetly. Even if the accident is relatively minor, however, you will need documentation of how it happened and of the fact that the other driver was uninsured. The responding officer will prepare an accident report containing all this information.
Take Pictures. Before cell phone cameras became common, this was not practical advice for most drivers. After all, whose emergency roadside supplies included a camera? Today, however, it’s strictly point and shoot with your smart phone. Because the position of the vehicles and similar information will be lost once the scene is cleared, these photos can be invaluable in establishing your claim.
Identify Witnesses. This can be a challenge. Many witnesses are reluctant to get involved and will decline to give their names. This is especially common when nobody is seriously injured or the witness is a passenger in the other car. But get as much information as you can from as many as you can without causing a confrontation.
Contact ICBC Promptly. Don’t delay, even if you don’t yet have a police report or other information. You can always submit that later. Claims can be submitted 24 hours a day by phone or through the ICBC website.
Get a Medical Checkup. Even in a fairly minor crash, you are likely to have bumps and bruises, and symptoms of more serious injuries may not be apparent. This is especially true if you suffered a blow to the head. Even if it turns out that you’re not seriously hurt, the time spent visiting your doctor or the emergency room is a small price for the peace of mind it brings.
Get Help After an Uninsured Accident
If you have sustained injuries in an accident as a result of someone who was uninsured, the personal injury lawyers at Diamond and Diamond are here to assist you with filing a claim. The lawyers at Diamond and Diamond have years of experience obtaining compensation for victims whose injuries were caused by someone without insurance. Contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout British Columbia.