Hit-and-Runs in Alberta: How to Get the Compensation You Deserve

Written By: Issac Zeer-Wanklyn, Summer Student

You have just been injured in a motor vehicle accident. The traumatic experience is then worsened when the at-fault driver flees the scene. How can you receive compensation if you don’t know the identity of the driver who hit you? Is there any way you can obtain compensation for your injuries in a hit-and-run accident?


MVAC Program

Thankfully, the Government of Alberta developed the Motor Vehicle Accident Claims program (MVAC) to address this exact type of situation. Through the program you may have access to compensation for your injuries in a hit-and-run accident. But there are some basic requirements that must be met before you can be considered for compensation.

First, you must file a lawsuit against the Administrator of MVAC and your claim must be brought in time. If you don’t provide the MVAC Administrator with written notice of your claim within 90 days of the incident, you could be denied compensation. It is possible for the Administrator to waive this requirement or a court could prolong the deadline. But, you must still make sure to bring your lawsuit within 2 years of the accident. If you bring a lawsuit after this time, the limitation period will apply and you can no longer sue for compensation from MVAC.

The second requirement is that the unknown driver must be the only one at fault. If there was also an insured driver who contributed to your injuries, you would be unable to bring a claim against MVAC. You would need to instead bring your claim against the known, insured driver.

Third, you must demonstrate that all reasonable efforts were made to figure out the identity of the at-fault driver. If it is revealed that part of the reason the driver is unknown is due to a failure to take action on your part, the court may deny you compensation. Make sure to take photos of the incident and record as much information from the accident as possible and provide those details to the police.

Finally, both the location of your residency and the location of the accident must be in Alberta. Apart from some limited exceptions, if you live outside of Alberta or the accident happened outside of Alberta, you will not be able to receive compensation from MVAC.

Caveats to MVAC

There are some caveats to the MVAC program that you should be aware of. First, the maximum amount that one can receive from the MVAC fund is $200,000. Second, MVAC does not adjust this amount based on the number of parties injured in the incident. The $200,000 is to be divided based on the proportion of total damages each individual receives. Therefore, if you and another individual were injured in a single hit-and-run incident, and you both suffered the equivalent of $1 million dollars’ worth of bodily damage, each of you would only be entitled to receive $100,000 from MVAC. Another limitation of MVAC is that compensation can only be provided for bodily injuries, not property damage.

SEF 44 Family Protection Endorsement

If you suffered more than $200,000 worth of bodily damage, you might be eligible to receive additional compensation from your insurance provider.  The Family Protection Endorsement, also known as SEF 44, can be purchased to provide protection to motorists where the at-fault driver is uninsured or there is a hit-and-run. SEF 44 coverage will permit you to receive compensation not provided for by the MVAC program, as long as the total amount you receive does not exceed your third-party liability coverage. If you do not have SEF 44 coverage, it is worth considering purchasing it to protect yourself from future loss due to a hit-and-run accident or due to an accident with an uninsured motorist.

The additional coverage provided by an SEF 44 endorsement is unlikely to apply to pedestrians injured in a hit-and-run accident. In the Alberta court case of Ostrowercha v Co-Operators General Insurance Company, the Judge ruled that the injured party’s SEF 44 policy could only apply when the insured was occupying a motor vehicle. Individual policies may vary, however, and so the possibility of receiving compensation should not be ruled out. Be sure to look at your own policy to determine the extent of your coverage.

Workers’ Compensation

­If the hit-and-run accident occurred while you were working, you might also be eligible to receive some or all of your compensation from the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB).  To be eligible for WCB benefits, you must be working in an industry that has WCB coverage and your injuries must have occurred during the course of employment. Your claim must be brought within the 24-month time limit, otherwise your claim will be denied.

When bringing your claims, remember that the goal of these programs is compensation, not to allow you to profit off of your injuries. Any money you receive from the WCB may be deducted from your MVAC payment.  Similarly, your insurance provider may deduct WCB and MVAC compensation from your SEF 44 benefits.

When you are injured in a hit-and-run accident, there are a few avenues for you to receive the compensation you need. The MVAC program, the SEF 44 endorsement, and the WCB plan all exist to ensure that injured parties may be compensated.  Be sure to apply for all benefits you are eligible for to maximize the likelihood that you will receive the compensation you need.


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Disclaimer: This article is to be used for educational and non-commercial purposes only. Parlee McLaws LLP does not intend for this article to be a source of legal advice. Please seek the advice of a lawyer before choosing to act on any of the information contained in this article.