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Hit and Run Car Accident, Driver Flees after Hitting Cyclists

As a weekend running warrior, this news story in the Globe and Mail of five cyclists injured badly in a hit and run car accident while on their weekly ride resonates.

Hit and run car accidents are, unfortunately, quite common when you practice in this area.  Surprisingly, even people with car insurance coverage sometimes try to escape the responsibility of having caused or being a part of a car accident.  The common victim is a pedestrian or cyclist, injured and lying on the ground and unable to help themselves or chase after the unidentified vehicle.  Often help is slow to arrive on the scene.

It appears that the driver in the news story submitted himself to the police a few hours after the hit and run car accident.

From a legal perspective, what happens to each of these injured cyclists as a result of the hit and run car accident?  Some thoughts about the process that they will undergo:

• Claim for Short Term Disability (STD) and Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits – in the news story, each of the injured cyclists appears to be working, so they may each have STD and LTD disability coverage available to them.  Given that a few of them are clearly unable to return to work at this time, they can make an application for short term disability benefits for a portion of their income/salary that they will be unable to earn.  If their injuries continue to be a problem after a few months, they can apply to their long term disability insurer for LTD benefits; whether they qualify for long term disability benefits depends on the nature and severity of their injuries.

o Our recent June 25 blog dealt with an interesting case where an insured disputed the long term disability insurance denial by her insurer;
• Extended Health Benefits Associated through their Employment – if the cyclists participate in an extended health benefits program through their work, which is common, then expenses associated with prescription medications, physiotherapy and even part of their hospital stay will be covered by that insurance policy;

• Accident Benefits – each cyclist should start their own individual claim, submitted to their own insurance company for Accident Benefits.  This means that if any of the cyclists has their own car (and insurance), they will make a claim to their own insurance – or they may have other car insurance available to them.  You can review background information on Accident Benefits.  In an Accident Benefits claim, they would ask for potential income replacement benefits not covered by their STD and long term disability insurance policies; for medical and rehabilitation benefits (i.e. physiotherapy, massage therapy, etc); prescription medications; medical equipment and devices – such as a wheelchair rental, crutches, etc and various other potential benefits;

Catastrophic Injury under the Accident Benefits regime – there is one cyclist in particular reported to have serious head / brain injuries with bleeding in his brain and surgery required.  Depending on his injuries and recovery, his claim may require particular attention for significant future benefits as a result of his problems;

• Lawsuit Seeking Damages for Loss–  depending on how badly hurt the cyclists are and the affect on their life (i.e. affecting their ability to work, the pain and suffering and limitations in the future on their health, etc) they will start a lawsuit against the driver of the hit and run vehicle.

If the hit and run driver does not have car insurance?  Then the cyclists would still sue the driver but also make a claim against their own car insurance policy, pursuant to the uninsured or underinsured provisions of their policy.  If any cyclist does not have their own car insurance policy, then they would present their lawsuit to the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims Fund (MVACF), which is insurance coverage of last resort.
What Would the Cyclists Sue For in a Lawsuit?  What Types of Damages?

One potential claim for damages is future income loss and loss of future earning capacity, if any of the cyclists are unable to work at all or as much as they did before the accident.  This can be a significant claim, given that the cyclists are young (i.e. 30 to 45 years old) and may hold stable and good-paying jobs.

Another potential claim for damages for a serious hurt cyclist might be future care benefits (i.e. potentially the cyclist described under the “catastrophic brain injury” section above).

Another potential lawsuit claim for damage would be the “pain and suffering damages” suffered by the individual cyclists.   In Ontario, there is the Bill 198 insurance regime which governs car accidents and it imposes a Bill 198 threshold on pain and suffering damage claims – see our Bill 198 threshold blogs for background information.  You can also review our pain and suffering damages blog on June 4 and also on  June 5.

Another potential lawsuit claim for damage is housekeeping and home maintenance help around the home.  An interesting illustration of housekeeping damages was reviewed in our April 17 blog.
Gregory Chang
Toronto Insurance Litigation Lawyer