Hit & Runs Driver Not Found: What Rights Do You Have?

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Written By: Patrick Brown and Aidan Vining, Summer Student

Being involved in any form of motor vehicle collision can be devastating and deadly. Collisions can leave you or a loved one with life-altering injuries. When they occur, most people expect the at-fault driver’s insurance to provide them with the financial support needed to cover the costs of any treatment or lost income. Hit-and-runs are unfortunately far too common, and in many cases the at-fault driver is never found. Fortunately, there are systems in place in Ontario to provide hit and run victims with assistance.

What Assistance is there in Ontario?

The main forms of assistance available to hit-and-run victims in Ontario are:

  • No-Fault Statutory Accident Benefits: available to every person insured under any automobile insurance policy,
  • The Unidentified Motorist Provisions of Your Auto Insurance: available to every person insured under any automobile insurance policy, and
  • The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVAC): available as a “payer of last resort” to compensate victims of automobile accidents where there are no other auto-insurance policies that exist to respond to the incident.

(1) No-Fault Statutory Accident Benefits

Statutory Accident Benefits are part of a no-fault insurance scheme and are available to every person insured under any automobile insurance policy in Ontario. A victim of a hit-and-run collision that is insured would apply to their own insurer to access these benefits. These benefits can include benefits for income replacement, as well as various medical and rehabilitation services. The amount of benefits a victim can collect depends on the severity of one’s injuries. In theory, these benefits are designed to kick in quickly so victims can access medical, rehabilitation, and income replacement benefits to assist with their recovery.

(2) Unidentified Motorist Provisions

A hit-and-run victim that is insured by an auto insurance policy can make a claim with their own insurer for damages. These might include damages for pain and suffering and lost income or medical expenses above and beyond what is available through no-fault benefits. Ontario insurers are required to pay up to $200,000 for these damages, which is the minimum liability limit in Ontario. Where damages exceed the $200,000 limit, additional optional coverage under the OPCF 44R Policy Endorsement may allow victims of hit-and-runs to be compensated beyond the limit. A typical OPCF 44R endorsement will provide coverage up to $1,000,000 in damages.

(3) Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVAC)

The Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund, or “MVAC,” provides compensation to people injured in automobile collisions when no other auto-insurance policy exists to respond to the claim. This would be the case, for example, where an uninsured pedestrian or cyclist is struck by a driver who then flees the scene. In this case, there is no auto-insurance policy to respond to the victim’s losses. The MVAC was established by the government of Ontario to respond to these types of scenarios and will respond to the uninsured’s Statutory Accident Benefits claims in a hit and run situation. The MVAC will also provide uninsured victims with compensation for personal injury damages when the driver flees the scene, up to $200,000, Ontario’s minimum liability limit.

Conclusion

If you or a loved one are a victim of a hit-and-run collision, we recommend speaking to an experienced lawyer to help you navigate this difficult and confusing process. This will ensure you are getting all of the assistance and benefits you need and deserve. We also recommend that whenever possible you purchase through your auto insurer the optional OPCF-44R endorsement, which will increase the compensation potentially available to you or your family if you are involved in a collision with a vehicle that flees the scene.

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