Have you, a family member, or friend, been involved in a hit and run accident? In this situation, you are filled with an immediate sense of helplessness. How will you ever get reimbursed for damages or injuries suffered?
It is not a hopeless situation, but it pays to be prepared in case you are a victim. There are steps you can take to protect yourself immediately.
If you’ve never been the victim of a hit and run, why should you be concerned? Hit-and-runs are on the rise in Colorado and throughout the US.
Between 2009 and 2016, AAA reported that hit-and-run deaths increased by 60%. Things are getting worse, and the makes traffic safety more hazardous. 65% of those fatalities were pedestrians or bicyclists.
In 2017, Denver averaged 18 hit-and-runs per day. The tragedy of the situation is that 90% of hit-and-run accidents receive no punishment.
If you want to be in the 10% of hit and run victims, and get compensated for your damages and injuries, there are a few things you need to do. This guide will help you understand how to handle a Colorado hit and run accident.
What is Considered A Hit and Run in Colorado?
In Colorado, a hit and run accident is when a person is involved in an accident then leaves the scene without identifying himself, reporting the accident, exchanging insurance information, or seeking to render aid to anyone who might need assistance.
These are what are called the Driver’s Duty in an accident. In Colorado, after a car accident, you are required to:
- Identify yourself with the others involved in the accident
- Report the accident immediately to the police
- Exchange your insurance information with the other parties
- Seek to help the other party if they are injured or in danger
Often times, the party at fault may stop and persuade you not to contact the authorities. They may promise payment or restitution. While this may sound more convenient, we recommend always contacting the police to get a formal accident report. Having the accident detailed on paper makes determining fault easier for insurance claims and also for helping with any compensation for injuries you may have sustained.
If you are able, it is better to contact the police immediately before interacting with the other party. Even if the person believes they are not at fault, it doesn’t give them the right to leave the scene. In a minor Colorado car accident, if there are no injuries and less than $1,000, the police officer will not need to file a formal police report, but will still help to remediate the situation and determine fault.
Hit and run laws cover incidents that happen in parking lots as well. If you damage an unoccupied car in a parking lot, it is your duty to attempt to locate the operator or at least leave a note with your name, address, and vehicle information. If you don’t make an effort to do this, you are guilty of a hit and run accident.
What Are the Colorado Hit and Run Laws?
Colorado law addresses each hit and run situation and the duty a driver has when property is damaged or persons are injured. The following are the specific laws related to hit and runs and the basic summary of each.
- C.R.S. 42-4-1601. Accidents involving death or personal injuries – duties. The drivers must report and stay with the accident and should prevent the obstruction of traffic as much as possible. Penalties for violating this statute are given in this code and each code to follow.
- C.R.S. 42-4-1602. Accident involving damage – duty. This addresses damage to vehicles only. The same care and reporting must be given as in statute 1601.
- C.R.S. 42-4-1603. Duty to give notice, information, and aid. The incident must be reported to authorities and the drivers "shall give the driver's name, the driver's address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she is driving and shall upon request exhibit his or her driver's license to the person struck or the driver or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with and where practical shall render to any person injured in such accident reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of such person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary or if the carrying is requested by the injured person."
- C.R.S. 42-4-1604. Duty upon striking unattended vehicle or other property. This statute addresses damaging unattended vehicles such as the parking lot example given above.
- C.R.S. 42-4-1605. Duty upon striking highway fixtures or traffic control devices. This applies when highway or traffic property is damaged by a vehicle whether other parties are involved or not.
- C.R.S. 42-4-1606. Duty to report accidents. This reaffirms the need to report any accident involved in local or state authorities.
Basically, if you have been involved in an accident, stay at the scene and call the authorities to document the incident, even if it seems minor. Otherwise, you could face penalties. Likewise, if someone has hit your car and left the scene of an accident without at least leaving contact information, you have a hit and run accident on your hands, and should first contact the police, your insurance company, see a doctor, and then contact a Colorado Hit and Run Attorney.
What Are the Penalties for Colorado Hit and Run Accidents?
Each particular law details the penalties for violating the duty to care or the reporting of accidents. The severity of the damage or injury usually determines the severity of the punishment.
Without being exhaustive for each code, these are examples of the potential punishments incurred for hit and run accidents in Colorado:
- Hit and runs resulting in injuries could result in a Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment for this conviction could be up to 18 months in jail and up to $5,000 in fines. The severity of the injuries could escalate the punishment.
- Hit and run accidents resulting in severe injuries could move the conviction to a Class 5 felony with 1 to 3 years in prison and fines up to $500,000.
- Hit and runs involving the death of a personis a Class 3 felony. Punishment can be 4 to 12 years in prison with fines up to $750,000.
- Hit and runs with property damage are charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor punishable up to 1 year in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.
- All convictions come with the loss of driving privileges for a certain period of time - determined by a judge.
The most common charges for hit and run accidents are failure to report the accident and leaving the scene of the accident. It is not uncommon for the person who fled to also be charged with careless or reckless driving. Civil liabilities are also considered when convicted of hit and run accidents.
On top of this, if there is damage done to your vehicle and you have suffered injuries resulting in pain, suffering, missed work, medical bills, and disruption of your daily life, you are also entitled to compensation from the offending party.
A lot of people feel hopeless when they are involved in a hit and run, thinking there is nothing an attorney can do to help them find someone who was not caught on camera during a hit and run. While they may be hard to find, it is not impossible, and we have access to resources that can help us find the person responsible.
Even in the event that the driver cannot be found, your insurance company and the State are still responsible for helping you deal with the damages and injuries you have received from your accident. Working with an attorney makes this process smooth and easy, ensuring you will get the compensation you deserve.
Other Legislation Related to Hit and Runs
In early 2019, Senate Bill 175 was passed in Colorado. This law address “vulnerable users”. These are pedestrians and bicyclists who are more vulnerable to injuries with vehicle collisions. Hit and run accidents in these cases are punished severely because of the impact to the individual injured.
Sadly, this bill was born out of the rising number of pedestrian accidents and bicycle accidents in Colorado, which can be fatal. Hopefully, the punishments issued for hit and runs on vulnerable users in this bill will help to reduce the amount of fatal accidents that are occurring on a regular basis in our state.
How Should You Handle A Hit and Run in Colorado?
So what should you do if you are involved in a hit and run?
There are a few simple steps you should take immediately at the scene of the accident:
- Call the police.This is important. The at-fault party may not think to leave if you the police are on their way. This creates a legal record of the incident and is the beginning of the police report.
- Collect evidence. After an incident, your memory is fresh and sharp. Detail as much information as possible about the circumstances and vehicles involved. Write down details about the vehicles and drivers. Create description of the vehicles and try to capture license plate information if possible. You may be able to capture this data before someone flees the scene. Any information you are able to gather with help your legal claim.
- See a doctor. Whether you feel fine or not, you should always see a doctor after a car accident. This, just like a police report, details vital information of your accident, and allows further examination by insurance companies and in court. Sometimes, the injuries from car accidents can be deep tissue, and take years to affect you. Without documentation, there is no way to prove whether your injuries were sustained during your accident, and no way to get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
- File an insurance claim. If you are able, begin this process at the scene of the accident. But whatever you do, call the police first. This should be your second call.
- Collect information if possible. After the accident, you may be able to gather other information such as: witness testimony, security camera footage, traffic camera footage, etc...
- Contact a Colorado hit and run attorney. Hit and runs are a complex matter. To solve them and get compensation from the person who has hit you takes an experienced professional. Even if the person cannot be found, the State has programs in place that require insurance companies to help you get the compensation you need from a hit and run accident. But navigating the legal and insurance landscape and knowing how to get the most out of your case is tough, time consuming, and frustrating. Hiring a professional ensures you will get the compensation you deserve.
What if you are involved in a hit and run accident and are uninsured?
If you are uninsured, you still have compensation options if the other party leaves the scene of the accident. In these cases, having an attorney can help you immensely. They can help you track down information about the case and navigate the legal systems involved. You may be able to bring a civil suit against the party if they are apprehended.
Should You Hire A Colorado Hit and Run Attorney?
The legal ramifications of a hit and run
accident can be confusing. If you are injured, it makes managing the case
yourself very difficult. You are worried about recovery, rehabilitation, and
medical bills. Fighting over insurance settlement or potential civil suits
create an extra burden after experience hit and run trauma, and can be nearly
impossible to balance with your regular daily life.
There are multiple types of compensation you may be due from your insurance company and the other party after a hit and run accidents. Compensation may include:
- Medical expenses, including future expenses
- Lost wages while recovering and lost potential future income
- Costs of rehabilitation and medical devices
- Compensation for mental injuries like depression, PTSD, and anxiety
- Emotional anguish
- Physical pain
- Loss of activities and lifestyle
- Loss of family relationships
Civil claims may be separate from what you receive from the insurance company. These cases are more complex, but allow you to receive payment from the hit and run party if they are caught. Working with an attorney in this case will help you maximize compensation and work through the legal system. It will help you to save time and get back to normal life without having to worry about tracking down the offending party or wrestle with insurance companies to get the compensation you deserve.
Why Work With Anderson Hemmat?
Our Colorado Hit and Run Attorneys have
over 25+ years of experience helping local people get the compensation they
deserve from all types of car accidents. We have a proven history of getting
results and helping our clients maximize compensation. Our focus has always
been on communication - helping you understand the case, what you can expect,
what the next steps are, and guiding you through the process smoothly every step
of the way.
This helps you to achieve peace of mind in these stressful times. All the while, our team of attorneys is working tirelessly to track down information that will help solve your case, and fight for your compensation. When you work with Anderson Hemmat, you can get:
- Experience - We have helped thousands of Coloradans navigate the complexities of that damage done by hit and run accidents. Because of the nature of a potential missing party, hit and runs require experience in understanding the investigation and insurance components of the case. Having a legal partner by your side helps bring years of knowledge and wisdom to the table in order to maximize your compensation.
- Customized Touch - Each hit and run case is different. Circumstances are different. Injuries and the severity of consequences can be dramatic. The impact of the accident is different for each individual. We treat each case personally because we understand that each case is unique, and presents its own challenges for everyone involved.
- Colorado Expertise - We work strictly with Colorado residents in order to help them receive compensation for their accidents. We understand the variety of laws and cases related to hit and run accidents in the state. We know the legal structures designed to help those injured by hit and run drivers, and have the resources to help you get compensation for your accident.
Involved In A Colorado Springs Hit and Run? Get A Free Case Evaluation Today!
If you or a loved one have been involved in a hit and run accident in Colorado, you should not hesitate to speak to a highly experienced attorney in order to work towards getting the compensation you deserve.
At Anderson Hemmat, our Denver Hit and Run Attorneys have the experience and the resources to help you get to the bottom of your hit and run accident, and get compensated for damages to your vehicle, injuries, loss of wages, pain and suffering, and other factors resulting from your accident that have had negative impacts on your life.
There is no reason why you should have to suffer through this alone, and struggle to get recompensed for your losses - even if the person who did this to you cannot be found. Give us a call today, or fill out the contact form below to speak with an experienced Colorado Hit and Run Attorney who can help you understand your case, guide you through the next steps, and help you get compensation for your accident.