There are few things as frightening as a hit-and-run accident. Car accidents are already stressful enough. The impact of another vehicle smashing into you can be enough to even spin you off the road. You may be left with considerable property damage and personal injury. And if you are dealing with a hit-and-run, you are left to deal with the aftermath all by yourself.
This is more than just a simple inconvenience. If your injuries are severe, it could easily turn into a life-threatening occurrence. Unfortunately, hit-and-run accidents happen more frequently than you might think—especially on Colorado roads. According to a recent survey, hit-and-run accidents in Colorado where the victim dies have increased by almost 80% since 2006. In fact, Colorado is ranked 23rd in the states with the most hit-and-run fatalities.
If you have recently been involved in a hit-and-run accident, it is important to act as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence. Contacting an experienced Colorado hit-and-run accident lawyer may help you fully understand your situation and assess all your available options.
There are many different reasons a driver might flee. Whatever the reason, fleeing the scene is a serious crime in Colorado. In the following paragraphs, we will go over some of the more common reasons a driver may turn an accident into a hit-and-run.
If a driver is intoxicated or otherwise under the influence, it is very likely that they will flee the scene of the crime. This is usually done out of fear of being charged with a DUI. Plus, the drugs and/or alcohol have impaired their judgment, making them more prone to panic and run.
A driver may also flee if they are not legally allowed to drive. This includes, but is not limited to, drivers who are uninsured, drivers whose licenses are suspended, and drivers who are not licensed at all. Such drivers also want to flee from the potential consequences of the accident.
For some drivers, it is a little more serious. There may be outstanding warrants for their arrests, or they may be on probation and fearing going back to jail. It may even be that the driver has stolen the car or did not otherwise have permission to drive it. Hit-and-run accidents can also be work-related. Drivers may be using a commercial vehicle or company car and be afraid of getting in trouble with their employer.
No matter what justification the driver may have had for fleeing the scene, hit-and-run accidents are a serious offense. Do not try to chase after the driver yourself, especially if you are injured. Prioritize your own safety, assess your physical and mental well-being, and contact the proper authorities as soon as possible.
Starting in 2018, the state of Colorado began enacting harsher penalties for hit-and-run accidents. These new penalties allow the Colorado DMV to suspend the license of any driver that caused a hit-and-run accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death. In addition to these criteria, the driver must have also failed to either immediately stop or return to the scene of the accident.
There is also a distinction between occupied and unoccupied vehicles under Colorado law. These distinctions matter when it comes to hit-and-runs. Contrary to popular opinion, you can still be involved in a hit-and-run with an unoccupied car.
Hit-and-runs with unoccupied cars happen frequently in parking lots. You may hit and damage a parked car, for example. In such a case, you still have a legal obligation to inform the car’s operator of the accident and provide them with your information.
You can do this either by locating them or leaving a note with your name and address, along with your vehicle’s registration number. You must also report the accident to all the relevant authorities.
If you are involved in a hit-and-run with an occupied vehicle, you have an obligation to remain at the scene. Exceptions apply in cases where you yourself have been injured and are in need of immediate medical attention. You may also leave to report the accident to law enforcement but return afterward.
If anyone else has been injured as a result of the accident, you are legally obligated to provide them with reasonable assistance. This may include calling for an ambulance, taking them to a hospital, or providing any emergency medical care you are qualified to give.
The penalties for fleeing an accident are even more severe when a person has been injured. Your driver’s license will immediately be suspended, and you may face up to one year in jail. Along with all this, you may also face a fine of $300 to $1,000.
If the injuries are determined to be serious, your penalties become even harsher. You may face two to six years in prison, along with a possible fine of $2,000 to $500,000. If someone was killed as a result of the accident, you may face four to 12 years in prison, along with a possible fine of $3,000 to $750,000.
If you have recently been involved in a hit-and-run accident in Colorado, do not hesitate. You will want to act as immediately as possible. Collect as much evidence as possible and procure witness accounts if possible. Make sure to get the names and contact information of all the witnesses, in case you will need to contact them again later on.
Dealing with a hit-and-run accident is one of the most stressful things you will ever have to go through. Extra stress is the last thing you need on your plate. We at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is ready and available to assist personal injury victims all across the country. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our seasoned nationwide hit-and-run accident attorneys.