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Can you sue a driver whose identity or insurance details are unknown?

When an accident occurs, it is extremely important that you exchange insurance information before leaving the scene, regardless of whether you believe someone has been injured or damage has been done to any vehicle. Injuries do not always present themselves immediately after an accident. It can take days, weeks, or months for some kinds of injuries to become apparent. Further, calling the police after an accident ensures that there is a record of the accident occurring. This record will include contact information for all the parties involved, including witnesses.

Sometimes, it is not possible to obtain the contact or insurance information of the other driver involved in a collision for reasons out of your control. The driver may not have insurance, or you may be the victim of a hit-and-run. When this is happens, you can still seek compensation under Section D of your insurance coverage.

What if I choose not to collect insurance or contact information from the at-fault driver?

In Donovan v. McCain Foods Ltd., 2004 NLCA 12, a woman was in a rear-end collision that she believed to be minor at the time of the accident. She decided not to obtain insurance particulars, names, license plate numbers or other information from the other drivers. Later in the day, after the accident, she felt pain and discomfort, which grew worse over the following days. She was diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury. The Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal had to determine if she was entitled to Section D coverage based on whether she was able to establish that the identities of the drivers or owners cannot be ascertained.

The Court of Appeal in this matter confirmed that the responsibility is on an insured person to prove that the identity of either the owner or driver of the at fault automobile cannot be ascertained. In other words, an insured person making a Section D claim must show they could not reasonably identify the driver of the at fault automobile. The Court of Appeal further stated that to satisfy this burden of proof, the injured party must make every reasonable attempt to identify the other driver or drivers involved in an accident when the circumstances permit.

If you are in a situation where you failed to collect information from a driver who hit you and you later began to experience pain, you should:

  1. Call the police and report the accident,
  2. Report the accident to your insurance company, and
  3. Contact us for a free consultation.

You may still have legal recourse to recover compensation.


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MacGillivray Law is a personal injury law firm with offices in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador. We serve clients all across Canada.

If you cannot travel to one of our offices, we will accommodate your circumstances and travel needs. We can provide a consultation by phone, Zoom, or FaceTime, or travel to meet you in your home when required.

If you would like to learn your legal options at no obligation, contact us today to set up a free consultation.

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