Like many other cities, Calgary has witnessed a concerning rise in hit-and-run accidents over the past few years.
Just recently (July 21, 2023), a person walking was hit by a car and died in northeast Calgary. Police confirmed it was a hit-and-run in the 3800 block of 34th Street Northeast, and the victim was a woman. Sadly, she was declared dead at the scene of the accident.
These incidents threaten public safety and raise complex legal and insurance issues.
Understanding the Epidemic
A hit-and-run occurs when a driver does not remain at the scene of an accident but quickly departs as if nothing happened.
Common hit-and-run scenarios include hitting a parked car while trying to parallel park or crashing into someone from behind while driving and then driving away.
Motorbike riders may also collide with pedestrians or individuals on bicycles. Regardless of whether it involves a motorbike, a pedestrian, or a cyclist, it constitutes an accident, and the driver must remain at the scene.
They must assist the injured person to the best of their ability. This may involve providing their information to the injured party or the police if necessary. In cases where the damage exceeds $1,000, they should report the incident to the police.
According to Canadian traffic laws, leaving an accident scene is against the law. Anyone who leaves can be charged with a hit-and-run for breaking the law. This serious offence can result in harsh punishments, especially if the victim has severe and permanent injuries.
Several factors contribute to the rise in hit-and-run accidents in Calgary:
|Population Growth||Calgary’s population has steadily increased, leading to more vehicles on the road and potentially more accidents.|
|Distracted Driving||Widespread smartphone usage and other distractions have increased distracted driving incidents.|
|Impaired Driving||Despite strict DUI laws, impaired driving remains a significant problem in Calgary.|
|Economic Stress||Economic downturns can lead to increased stress, which can result in aggressive driving behaviours and more hit-and-runs.|
The Legal Framework
In Canada, there are two types of charges for a hit and run, one under the Highway Traffic Act and the other under the Canadian Criminal Code. It is a criminal offence, punishable by a conviction under the Criminal Code when a negligent driver flees the scene of an accident without stopping.
When a pedestrian or bicyclist is involved in an accident, criminal hit-and-run charges are applied. This hit-and-run type can result in serious injuries, like broken bones, paralysis, or even death.
On the other hand, if a driver doesn’t stay at the scene of an accident, they can get a traffic ticket under the Highway Traffic Act. This usually happens if someone hits your parked car or if they hit you while you’re driving.
According to the criminal code, there are serious consequences for hit-and-run accidents, including:
- If a driver is convicted of not stopping when the victim wasn’t hurt, they could have to spend up to 5 years in jail.
- If they are charged with failing to stop or stay, and the victim was seriously injured, they could face up to 10 years in prison or even be charged with criminal negligence.
What to Do If You’re a Hit and Run Victim?
Below is a simple guide on what you should do if you experience a hit-and-run accident:
Get the License Plate Number
You should first try to get the license plate number of the involved vehicle that hit you. This is the best way to identify the person who caused the accident. Sometimes, people hit parked cars or speed away quickly.
Collect Witness Information
Ask nearby people if they saw the license plate or anything else that could help. Even if they didn’t know the license plate, get their names and contact details. This can be useful later.
Check for Security Cameras
Finding out who hit you can be tough, especially if it happened while your car was parked. But many buildings and parking areas have security cameras. These cameras record what happened so that they could capture the accident.
Look for these cameras, and if you find any, try to get a copy of the footage. It could be necessary to figure out who caused the accident and solve the mystery.
The Role of Accident Lawyers
Accident lawyers play a main role in helping hit-and-run victims navigate their cases’ complex legal and insurance aspects. This is how they can assist:
|Investigating the Accident||Accident lawyers work diligently to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and reconstruct the accident scene. They ensure no stone is left unturned in identifying the at-fault party.|
|Dealing with Insurance Companies||Navigating insurance claims can be challenging, especially when dealing with hit-and-run accidents. Lawyers negotiate with insurance companies to secure fair compensation for their clients.|
|Pursuing Legal Action||If the hit-and-run driver is identified, lawyers can file a legal lawsuit on behalf of the victim to recover damages. They guide clients through the legal process, including court appearances and settlements.|
|Advocating for Victims||Accident lawyers advocate for victims, ensuring their rights are protected and they receive the fair and just compensation they deserve. They are well-versed in the intricacies of Alberta’s legal system.|
Why You Need an Accident Lawyer
Knowledge of the Law
Navigating the legal process can be a hard task for accident victims. The laws surrounding hit-and-run cases in Alberta can be complex and confusing. Accident lawyers deeply understand these laws, ensuring that victims’ rights are protected and upheld throughout the legal process.
Accident-related expenses can quickly pile up. Lawyers go the extra mile to secure the highest possible compensation for their clients. They consider many factors, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and future expenses.
Lawyers put in a lot of effort to make sure that victims get the money they need to recuperate by expertly negotiating with insurance companies and taking legal action where necessary.
Dealing with legal proceedings and recovering from injuries can be incredibly stressful. Accident lawyers step in to alleviate this burden. They take care of the paperwork and handle negotiations with insurance companies.
They also represent clients in court, allowing victims to focus on their holistic recovery. This support can significantly reduce the stress and anxiety associated with legal matters.
Holding hit-and-run drivers accountable for their actions is a significant part of the justice process. Accident lawyers play a pivotal role in this aspect. They investigate the accident, identify the responsible party, and pursue legal action against them. By doing so, they contribute to justice for the victims and their families affected by the incident.
This accountability is essential for preventing future hit-and-run accidents and promoting safer road behaviour.
The Legal Process
- Reporting the Accident
Victims of hit-and-run accidents should report the incident to the police immediately. Providing as much information as possible, such as the vehicle’s description and license plate number, can aid the investigation.
- Seeking Medical Attention
Victims should seek prompt medical attention, even if their injuries seem minor. This ensures their well-being and creates a medical record that can be important in legal proceedings.
- Consulting with an Accident Lawyer
As soon as possible, victims should consult with an accident lawyer. The lawyer will guide them through the legal process, starting with filing a claim with their insurance company.
- Investigating the Accident
The lawyer conducts a thorough investigation, working closely with law enforcement and private investigators if necessary. This can involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and reconstructing the accident.
- Negotiating with Insurance Companies
The lawyer represents the victim in negotiations with insurance companies. If the hit-and-run driver is identified, they can also pursue legal action against them.
- Pursuing Legal Action
In cases where the hit-and-run driver is identified, the lawyer files a civil lawsuit to recover damages. This can involve going to court and presenting the case before a judge or jury.
- Achieving Resolution
Ultimately, the goal is to achieve a resolution that provides the victim with the compensation they need to cover medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Find a Trusted Accident Law Firm
Calgary Hit-and-run accidents are a growing concern, but accident lawyers are important in helping victims seek justice and compensation. These legal professionals navigate the complex legal and insurance processes, ensuring victims receive the support they need.
By understanding the legal framework and seeking the assistance of accident lawyers, hit-and-run victims can find a path toward resolution and recovery in the face of this troubling epidemic. Look for Sidhu Personal Injury Lawyers Calgary and find the leading assistance you can get in facing these troubles.