According to statistics issued by Quebec’s ministère de la Sécurité publique, nearly 23,000 of some 40,000 driving offences reported in Quebec in 2015 were hit-and-runs. That’s surprising, because the consequences can be very serious for anyone who commits this type of offence. Chances are, most people could stand to learn more about what a hit-and-run involves. Our Legal Access Insurance team has gathered all the information you need to know. Keep reading to find out more!
What is a hit-and-run?
Did you know? According to the Highway Safety Code, you have certain obligations if you are involved in a collision or fender-bender when you are driving an automobile or off-road vehicle (ATV, snowmobile, boat, personal watercraft, etc.), no matter how minor a bump it may be. That’s right: whenever you hit anything with your vehicle, whether it’s another vehicle, a person, an animal weighing more than 25 kg, or an inanimate object such as a pole or a fence, you have an obligation to:
- remain on the scene of the incident or return immediately to the scene;
- provide the requisite assistance to any person in need;
- provide the police or injured party with all requisite information;
- call the police if a person is injured or if the collision involves an unoccupied vehicle or fixed object; and the owner cannot be found.
If you fail to comply with any of these obligations, it’s considered a hit-and-run.
What information do you have to provide in the event of a collision to avoid being accused of a hit-and-run?
You are required to provide the following information to the police or the injured party:
- Your name
- Your address
- Your driver’s licence number
- The name and address of the registered vehicle owner, as shown on the vehicle’s registration certificate (if different from your own)
- Your vehicle licence plate number
- The name of your insurer
What should you do if you have caused material damage to an unoccupied vehicle or another object, and there is nobody else on the scene of the accident?
Most hit-and-runs occur in parking lots, where it is impossible to wait for the vehicle’s owner (hospitals, airports, public parking lots, shopping centres, etc.). If you cannot provide the required information directly to the vehicle owner, you must contact the nearest police station as soon as possible to report the accident and provide the requisite information. It’s the only way you can avoid committing a hit and run in this type of situation.
A word of caution! Contrary to popular opinion, you shouldn’t scribble your details on a scrap of paper and tuck it under the windshield wiper of the vehicle you hit!
What are the potential consequences of a hit-and-run?
You should expect a fine of between $200 and $300 if you leave the scene and nobody requires assistance. However, the fines can skyrocket to between $600 and $2,000 if you fail to provide assistance to a person involved in the accident.
In all cases, you can be penalized with 9 demerit points on your driving record under provincial regulations. That’s a lot of points, because depending on your age and the type of licence you hold, you only have between 4 and 15 demerit points available! Having demerit points on your record can also make it more expensive to renew your driver’s licence every year.
Can a hit-and-run be a criminal offence?
Yes, sometimes a hit-and-run may be considered a criminal offence, in which case as well as risking a prison sentence, you’ll lose your driver’s licence. It’s important to consult with a lawyer if need be, before you talk to the police.
Ultimately, if you do have even a minor fender-bender, the best course of action is to notify the owner of the damaged property. But make sure you contact the authorities if somebody is injured or you cannot contact the owner of the damaged property!
It doesn’t only happen to others!
Before you find yourself in this type of situation, protect yourself with Legal Access Insurance, which can prove to be very useful in a multitude of legal situations. This comprehensive coverage is available to all La Capitale General Insurance clients for little more than $1 a week.
What should you do if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run?
- If you see the vehicle at fault, try to make a note of the licence plate number.
- Call the police and file a report.
- Contact your insurer without delay, making sure to have your insurance policy number and police report number on hand.
- Your insurer will start the claim process and let you know what you need to do next.
Good to know:
- If you are the victim of a hit-and-run, you can only claim on your auto insurance if you purchased Section B2 Collision or Upset coverage when you took out your policy.
- Some insurers, including La Capitale, will not ask you to pay the deductible in the event of a hit-and-run if a police report was filled out. Find out more!
- If your insurance does not cover a hit-and-run, you can file a claim for compensation with the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).