Dealing with car accidents is stressful enough as it is. If you are the victim of a hit-and-run accident, it can be even worse. It is a harrowing situation. Even the most minor car accident can run up extensive medical and repair bills. A severe car accident can be life-threatening and leave you with a totaled vehicle. You may have suffered severe personal injuries and property damage and not know where to turn for compensation. Recovery is a costly and time-consuming process—and a hit-and-run accident leaves you alone to foot the bill. Do you know what to do if you become the victim of a Colorado hit-and-run accident?
Obviously, when a driver flees the accident scene, it is because they know they have done something wrong. But certain factors may make a driver more likely to flee. For instance, some drunk or high drivers may want to escape a DUI arrest. They may not even be able to think clearly while under the influence. Other drivers may flee because they are not legally allowed to drive. They may be driving with a suspended license, or they may not even have a license at all. It is also possible that they are uninsured, on probation, or on the run from another crime. No matter what the reason, any driver that flees the accident scene is committing a serious crime—and may even be subject to a felony charge in the state of Colorado.
Recently, the state of Colorado decided to enact even harsher penalties for hit-and-run accidents, to further discourage drivers from fleeing the scene. The new law has given the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) the ability to suspend the license of anyone who fled from or failed to return to an accident that caused serious bodily injury or death.
It is important to note that there is a legal difference between occupied and unoccupied vehicles. Anyone who hits and damages an unoccupied vehicle must either locate the driver or leave behind a note. The note must include your name, your address, and your vehicle’s registration number. Additionally, you should not forget to report this accident to the relevant authorities.
However, if you hit an occupied vehicle, you absolutely must remain at the scene. Exceptions apply if you require immediate medical attention or have left to report the accident to law enforcement. Furthermore, you are legally obligated to give reasonable assistance to any injured parties. These duties may be carried out by calling for an ambulance, driving the injured person to the hospital, or even providing emergency medical care if you are qualified to do so.
Fleeing an accident scene is irresponsible and expensive. The DMV may suspend your license immediately, and you may face jail time for up to one year. You may also need to pay a fine of $300 to $1,000. These penalties increase in severity according to the accident. A hit-and-run that causes serious injuries may have you face 2 to 6 years in prison, along with a fine of $2,000 to $500,000. In comparison, a hit-and-run that causes death may have you face 4 to 12 years in prison, along with a fine of $3,000 to $750,000.
We know that dealing with a hit-and-run accident is a traumatizing, confusing experience. Luckily, it is still not altogether impossible to pick up the pieces. Try to remember as much information as possible about the driver if you were present during the accident. Write all these details down immediately. The make and model of the vehicle, a physical description of the driver, and the car’s license plate number can all be invaluable pieces of information.
Ask any potential witnesses if they would be willing to testify on your behalf. It may also be beneficial to ask local business owners or residents if their security cameras caught the accident on tape. Do not forget to take down their names and contact information in case you need to get in touch with them again later on.
Additionally, report the accident with the police. Try to give them the most detailed and factual account possible without editorializing. You should take down the names and badge numbers of the officers in case you need them later on, and remember to ask for a copy of your report. It may be a vitally important document in your auto accident claim. You should also take care not to forget to report the accident with your insurance provider. You may still have some forms of coverage even without being able to identify the driver at fault. Any insurance coverage may reduce your out-of-pocket costs dramatically.
Finally, seek medical attention immediately—even if you do not feel injured or are planning to file a car accident claim. Many injuries do not make themselves fully known until some time has passed, and they often only get worse without treatment. There is no reason to gamble with your well-being. Let a doctor make sure you are on the right track after your accident. Failing to seek immediate medical attention may also be used to argue that you are faking or exaggerating your injuries. Do not sabotage your personal injury claim with such a simple mistake.
Taking care of a car accident claim can be overwhelming, especially if you were the victim of a hit-and-run accident. You need someone you can trust in your corner. 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. We may even be able to help you catch the driver at fault for your accident. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our trusted nationwide hit-and-run car accident attorneys. You should never have to pay for somebody else’s mistakes. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve.