By Jeff Mitchell, NOVA Injury Law
Part of mandatory car insurance in Nova Scotia is Section D coverage, otherwise known as unidentified and uninsured motorist coverage. It is a tremendously valuable part of your car insurance because it will protect your right to pursue an injury claim in the event that you can’t identify the at-fault driver, or the at-fault driver is uninsured. In either case, your own car insurer will step into the shoes of the unidentified and uninsured driver’s would be insurer and consider your claim.
If you have been injured and you are faced with the reality that you were struck by an unidentified driver – don’t worry about negative consequences of contacting your insurance company. In fact, you want to contact your car insurer immediately because the insurer will attempt to locate the at-fault driver. The sooner you contact them, the better the odds that the actual at-fault party can be found and your claim can proceed as normal. Whether or not your insurance company can locate the unidentified driver, your car insurance premiums should not increase if you are not at fault (even if your car insurance company pays for your injuries!).
What You Need to Know
Before you begin your discussion with the insurance company, there are some important things you need to know:
- Don’t delay – strict timelines apply to your claim. Being late with your claim may eliminate your right to compensation.
- It remains your responsibility to prove that the unknown or unidentified driver acted negligently.
- You must lead evidence to show that the negligent conduct led to your injuries and losses.
Be Sure to Report Your Claim
Report the accident to the Halifax Regional Police, the RCMP, or your local police force within 24 hours, or as soon as possible.
Also, you must notify your insurance company within 30 days of the accident, or as soon as possible.
Giving notice to the police and your insurance company is critical. The insurance company will investigate the claim in hopes of finding the at-fault driver. If your insurance company located the driver, it will shift the obligation to pay the injury claim to the insurer of the at-fault driver. Not only is this a good result for your insurance company, it is helpful with respect to your legal claim because the insurance company will gather important details that may otherwise be unavailable.
If you haven’t notified the police or your insurance company within the timeframe required, you must act immediately. Failure to adhere to the timelines may result in the claim being forfeited, which leaves you without an opportunity to advance a claim for your injuries!
Fortunately, it is the role of a judge (not an insurance adjuster with an insurance company) to decide whether your claim has been forfeited because of missed time frames. The judge will assess the prejudice caused to the insurance company due to the delay, and the effect that a dismissed claim will have on you as the victim of a car accident. Don’t leave it to chance – give notice to the police and insurance company immediately.
Unidentified driver claims can be complicated. In the event that you are unsure what to do, or how best to advance your claim, you may be best to speak to a car accident lawyer about your claim. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you do not pay any legal fees unless your claim is won.
Jeff Mitchell is the Principal Lawyer and Founder of NOVA injury Law. Jeff has dedicated his practice to the area of personal injury, accident, and disability benefits law.
This article is part of the Legal Information Society of Nova Scotia's "Law in the Community" series, which features law-related articles by lawyers, other legal service providers, and the media. It is reproduced with permission from Jeff Mitchell, NOVA Injury Law.