Written By: Joseph A. Cescon and Brock Turville, Student-at-Law
Hit and runs can happen quickly and without warning. They can occur on highways, residential roads, and even in parking lots. Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians who are struck by another driver who fails to remain at the scene should try and get as much information as possible under the circumstances to assist themselves and the investigators. Failure to remain at the scene comes with significant consequences under Section 320.16 of the Criminal Code. Anyone who commits an offence by failing to remain could be imprisoned for up to two years less a day (summary conviction) or up to 10 years (indictment).
If you are involved in a Hit and Run, you should immediately do the following:
- Call 911 if someone was injured
Reporting the incident to 911 will not only help you create a paper trail for the investigation, but will also provide assistance in a stressful situation. It is also important to gather as much evidence as possible to help increase your chances of finding the driver who fled the scene. If no one was injured; contact police.
- Take pictures of the scene, including any damage and/or injuries
The most important piece of information you should try to get is the license plate of the vehicle that hit you. A license plate search can later be conducted through the Ministry of Transportation (MTO). The search will reveal the current address of the plate holder so that he or she can be located. Even a partial plate can be of tremendous assistance.
- Get witness contact information
All too often passersby have information that can assist in an investigation but their information is lost because they are unable to remain on-scene until police arrive. If possible, speak with anyone in the area and record their contact information.
- Look for security or surveillance cameras
In this day and age, much of what we do is captured by a camera of some kind. Look around the area of the incident for cameras which may have recorded the event and speak with anyone else at the scene to see if any dash cam video is available. If a public transit vehicle was in the vicinity, note the particulars of the vehicle, it is likely equipped with cameras, and the video can be preserved by a simply request to the transit authority.
- Report the incident to the police
Try to provide the police with the following information:
- Location of the collision
- Details of any damage to your vehicle
- Colour, make, and model of the vehicle that fled the scene
- Physical appearance of the driver failed to remain at the scene
- Names and contact information of any individuals who observed the collision
Hit and runs can also happen while away from your vehicle. For example, they can happen while your car is parked at work. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a vehicle equipped with “sentry mode”, it is typically not be possible to see the license plate of other particulars of the striking vehicle. Talking to the owners of other vehicles in the area may reveal important details if they happened to observe the incident; leave them a note. You should also check with businesses in the area to see whether security footage captured the incident.
What if the driver or vehicle cannot be located?
If you are involved in a hit and run accident or fail to remain incident, your own auto insurance coverage may provide under the circumstances. Uninsured coverage is mandatory under the standard automobile insurance contract in Ontario, and allows you to make a claim through your own insurance coverage where it is impossible to identify the vehicle or the responsible party.
 RSC, 1985, c. C-46, S. 320.19(5)