Failing to remain at scene of an accident could cost you a lot

Don't leave accident scene

Failing to remain at the scene of an accident, or a hit and run as it is more commonly known, is without a doubt a daily occurrence in British Columbia.

We all know we are doing something seriously wrong when we hit a cyclist, pedestrian or other vehicle on the highway and leave the scene to escape civil and criminal liability. However, we're not quite so worried when the collision is a scrape or a dent in a parking lot or something else we can convince ourselves is of a minor nature.

Ask anyone who has had to deal with their insurance company after they have suffered a hit and run collision and they will tell you how much it cost them in time and money to make a claim and have their vehicle repaired. In some cases the frustration is so high that maybe it is a good thing the offending driver was never found.

The victim's lot is always easier if the offending driver remains and takes responsibility for their actions. Many victims are unaware they must exercise due diligence to locate and identify the offending driver or vehicle or they could be denied insurance coverage.

Any collision that causes damage, injury or death to others resulting from the operation of your vehicle requires you to immediately return to the scene, provide all reasonable assistance and produce, in writing, the identity of the owner of the offending vehicle, the license plate number and insurance particulars of that vehicle.

That a requirement, even in the face of personal risk, as the court case R. v Griffith shows.

In the case of a collision with an unattended vehicle, the driver must take reasonable steps to locate the owner, driver or person in charge and notify them. If that person cannot be located, it is sufficient to leave this information outlined above in writing in or on the vehicle.

It is required you take reasonable steps to locate and notify, in writing, either the owner or the person in charge of the property. Failing to do that within 14 days of the collision may result in denial of any coverage. It may not be necessary to make a claim, but the notification will avoid problems if that changes later on.

The offending driver could be charged under the Criminal Code or the Motor Vehicle Act for their actions.

Criminal Code charges are usually used for collisions where serious harm results and convictions may include a prison term. Convictions under the Criminal Code for driving offences all result in the assessment of 10 penalty points.

The middle ground would be a mandatory appearance in provincial court for the Motor Vehicle Act offence.

A traffic ticket could be issued with a monetary penalty of $368 when the crash does not involve an unattended vehicle or property only. Otherwise, the ticketed amount is $196.

These offences carry three penalty points.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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