A Cyclist's Guide to Hit & Runs
A common misunderstanding among cyclists is what you can do in a hit and run scenario. What if the driver does not stop and speeds off? What if they are oblivious to the fact they hit you in that massive SUV?
In our experience, hit and runs hit and runs involving cyclists happen too often in Ontario. If you are involved in a hit and run and injured as a result, you can still access rehab benefits, lost wages income, pain and suffering damages and more.
A client of ours suffered serious injuries after a car blew through a red light, crashed into him, and sped off into the night. Even though the driver is gone, we are able to help him get compensation.
Our hearts still ache for Tristan Roby, a teenager who was tragically hit while riding his bike in London, Ontario in 2019. Tristan was severely injured and the driver sped off. Thankfully, 6 months later the driver who fled the scene and left Tristan for dead was arrested.
Hit and runs are a nightmare scenario for cyclists, the at fault party is gone. Often it appears that there is no evidence of who the driver is. Importantly, this driver’s auto insurer cannot be identified and made to compensate the victim.
If the unthinkable happens and you are involved in a non-hit and run bike/bike crash review our crash guide.
If you are involved in a hit and run, follow these steps:
1. Get Safe and Call 911.
If you can, get off the road. Do not chase the fleeing vehicle and further put yourself at risk. JUST GET THE PLATE NUMBER.
If anyone was injured during the crash, call 911.
2. Get License Plate and Witness Information:
If there are any other people around, ask them if they saw the license plate or any other distinguishing characteristics of the vehicle or driver that might help.
Take down witness names and contact info regardless of whether they caught the license plate or not.
Gather any information about the driver and car(s) involved.
Get that witness’s contact information including name, phone number and email address.
3. Gather Evidence:
License plate number of the vehicle that hit you;
The vehicle's make, model and colour;
Description of the driver;
Direction the vehicle was headed;
Location, time, and cause of the crash;
Photos! Photos! Photos!
damage to your bike, helmet or clothing, especially if the car’s paint is visible where the impact took place;
car debris on the scene, skid marks, etc.;
Photos of the crash scene.
Description of any damage to the vehicle that hit you.
Canvas the immediate and surrounding area for video cameras
If you're injured don't wait. Get a friend, loved one or witness to do this. Think in a convenience store, gas station, bank, any dash cam footage witnesses in cars may have, etc. This could be critical in identifying the driver.
Many buildings and parking lots have security cameras. If you happened to be cycling past one the cameras could have caught something. Some major cross walks also have red light cameras that might also help you.
4. Report the collision to the police immediately, but absolutely within 24 hours.
Your report could help the police apprehend the guilty party.
Give them all the information you have gathered, as well as the names and numbers of any witnesses.
If you do not report the crash to the police you risk losing out on accessing benefits and compensation through the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF discussed below).
5. If you have auto insurance report the crash to your insurer prior to applying to the MVACF.
Most insurance companies require that any damages sustained in a hit-and-run be reported to the police within 24 hours. The MVACF or your insurance company will require that you submit a police report before they start handling your claim as a hit and run car.
Insurance companies are very cautious when it comes to hit and run cases due to the amount of alleged fraudulent reports they receive in a year.
THE MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT CLAIMS FUND is there to help
Thankfully, in Ontario we have a provincially funded Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (“MVACF”). The MVACF is the payer of last resort. A saving grace for hit and run victims.
The MVACF engages when a driver is driving without insurance or flees the scene and cannot be identified. Injured cyclists (and pedestrians), can apply to the MVACF for immediate Accident Benefits coverage, such as health care costs, lost wages, in home care, etc., and up to $200,000 in compensation for personal injury claims.
To access the MVACF you must:
1) report the crash to police; and
2) seek medical attention.
CHARGE THE DRIVER TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW
Anytime someone leaves the scene of a collision, it is a severe offence. That hit and run driver could and should face intense consequences if they are caught. Being able to provide the police with pertinent details will increase the chances of the hit and run driver being apprehended and ultimately charged.
By fleeing, the driver is implying that they feel no remorse or sympathy for their actions. It is up to all of us to ensure that dangerous, entitled, and reckless drivers, who care little for people on bikes, face harsh penalties. Penalties for dangerous driving causing injury hit and runs must be increased. Keep pressuring your municipal and provincial leaders. Make noise when a driver is given a slap on the wrist.
RIDE SAFE AND CONTACT Us IF YOU NEED HELP
We cannot stress enough the importance of seeking medical attention and contacting the police in a hit and run scenario.
Seek legal advice as soon as you are able, to ensure you have help navigating the complex insurance regime.
As always, we are happy to provide free legal advice to all cyclists and other injured people in cases of hit and runs.
Ride safe friends.
*header image from cyclist memorial in Los Angeles, by DAMIAN DOVARGANES/ASSOCIATED PRESS and profiled in https://www.wsj.com/articles/hit-and-run-fatalities-soar-as-more-people-bike-to-work-1524735001