A hit-and-run accident can be a terrifying event in someone’s life, especially if it leaves them severely injured. Here’s what Canadians (and Nova Scotians) need to know about laws regarding hit-and-runs and the victim’s options for pursuing compensation for injuries.

What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident?

Simply put, a hit-and-run accident occurs when one driver hits another vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian but doesn’t stop to ensure the other party is all right and provides their name and contact information. When the other driver is at fault but doesn’t stay to take responsibility for the accident, it can be highly frustrating for the victim(s).

There can be many reasons why someone doesn’t stop. They may panic and think the best thing they can do is leave. They may drive with an expired license or no license at all or have a previous record. Or they may not realize they’ve hit something or someone, especially if driving impaired due to drugs or alcohol or distracted or fatigued. It may involve only property damage that occurs when someone attempts to park in a tight space, damages another vehicle, and leaves without notifying the other vehicle’s owner of their liability.

Regardless of the reason, Canadian law takes it seriously.

What Are Canada’s and Nova Scotia’s Laws Regarding Hit-and-Run Accidents?

Canada has two different types of charges for hit-and-run cases.

  • Highway Traffic Act. This involves the guilty driver receiving a ticket and related fines and is usually issued for someone who fails to stay at the collision spot after striking another parked vehicle or a moving vehicle.
  • Canadian Criminal Code. When someone hits a pedestrian or cyclist and leaves the accident scene, they can face criminal charges. That’s because they’ve left an injured person who could potentially need life-saving care and may not be able to call for help themselves, thus causing the injuries to worsen or even lead to death, which could have been avoided if the hit-and-run driver stopped and called for help.

Consequences for hit-and-run accidents vary according to the circumstances and the severity of the injuries incurred, if any, by the victim. But the guilty party could face a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in fines and a few months or even up to 10 years in prison. They’ll have a criminal record for the rest of their life if convicted of criminal charges. There’s also the possibility of up to six demerit points on their driver’s license or having the license suspended for up to two years. Another factor is if the driver is found to have been driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If that’s confirmed, the driver could face stiffer penalties.

If the driver caused someone else’s death and left the accident scene, they could face vehicular manslaughter charges and more severe consequences.

What Damages Can Be Pursued from a Hit-and-Run Claim?

If the driver who caused the accident can be identified, there are several potential areas for financial compensation.

  • Medical expenses
  • Therapy and rehabilitation expenses
  • Lost wages or future earning capacity if the injuries permanently affect someone’s ability to work
  • In-home care, if needed
  • Pain and suffering

How much someone could receive will depend on the case. Every hit-and-run is different. Suppose someone has a minor injury that doesn’t cause them to lose time from work and takes little medical intervention. In that case, they’ll receive less than someone who faced more catastrophic injuries, such as brain injuries, dismembered limbs, or significant back injuries.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim for a Hit-and-Run Accident in Nova Scotia?

First, you must report the accident to the police within 24 hours of its occurrence. Then, there is a two-year deadline to file for claims, beginning with the date of the accident. There are occasionally exceptions to that deadline, but it can be more difficult to convince a court to hear the case if the deadline has passed. If you’re unsure of your timing, it’s advisable to meet with an experienced auto injury lawyer as soon as possible.

What Should I Do if I’m injured in a Hit-and-Run Accident in Nova Scotia?

If you’re physically able, pull your vehicle over (or bike or yourself if you’re a pedestrian) to the side of the road to avoid further contact with other drivers. If the other driver is still visible, try to get any information about the car being driven, including the license plate, if possible. If you or anyone else is injured, call for help. You’ll also want to file a police report to begin an investigation. Look around the area for any possible home or business security cameras that may have filmed the accident and could have identifying details.

Even if you’re sure you’re not injured, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Injuries can occur in these accidents that don’t always show symptoms immediately. Left untreated, they can become severe and even life–threatening.

Then, call NOVA Injury Law at 902-706-5205 to schedule a free case review. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable hit-and-run accident lawyers can help guide you through trying to identify the guilty driver and pursue financial damages from them. We understand this is a traumatic, frustrating situation for you and that personal injury law is complex. We’re here to help you understand what will happen going forward and the possibilities for the best outcomes for you.