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What happens if you're stuck by a hit-and-run driver?

Hit-and-run accidents can be as minor as a fender-bender and as serious as a fatality. Both federal and provincial statutes in Canada make it a crime to leave an accident scene.

Unfortunately, that doesn't stop people from doing it. Sometimes, they simply panic and drive away. Others hope that they can get away with it. Those who have other pending legal issues, were driving under the influence or perhaps had something illegal in their vehicle may think that it's better to take their chances with trying to avoid dealing with law enforcement.

Canada's hit-and-run laws apply not only to those operating a motor vehicle. They also affect those operating a boat or aircraft that strikes a person, another vehicle, aircraft, boat or even cattle being herded by a farmer.

Besides the hit-and-run offence itself, a person who leaves the scene of an accident can face additional charges if someone was hurt or killed in the crash. It could cost them years behind bars.

Beyond the criminal penalties, victims and surviving family members can take action against the at-fault driver or operator in civil court for things like negligence or wrongful death.

Canadian law enforcement officials take hit-and-run offences, particularly where someone has been injured or killed, very seriously. In many cases, the offender is identified, located and arrested.

If you or a loved one has been hurt by a hit-and-run driver, it's a good idea to seek the guidance of an experienced Ontario personal injury lawyer sooner rather than later. He or she can advise you of your legal options once the offender is found, regardless of whatever criminal penalties that person may face.

Source: FindLaw Canada, "Hit-and-run offences: What to know," accessed Dec. 16, 2015

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