No one sets out to drive somewhere and expects to be involved in an accident. But when an accident occurs, especially one that leaves you injured by someone else who leaves the scene of the accident, it’s an emotional and traumatic experience that can leave you scared and unsure what happens next. It’s also unfortunately fairly common; more than 10% of drivers in an auto accident panic and leave the scene.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Driver?
A hit-and-run driver is a driver who hits another vehicle, person, animal, or property and leaves the scene of the accident without providing contact and insurance information. By law, anyone involved in an accident must stop and arrange for medical care if needed and report the accident to law enforcement. In Colorado, a hit-and-run is a crime that can lead to severe punishment in terms of jail time and fines.
Specifically, Colorado law requires drivers in an accident to stop in the following situations:
- Damage occurs to a vehicle, even if neither the drivers nor any passengers sustain any bodily injury.
- The accident must be reported to law enforcement. Note that if the driver has to leave the scene to report the accident, that’s acceptable as long as they return to the scene once law enforcement is contacted. The police usually require drivers to remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives.
- Anyone needing medical care should be aided by those physically able.
Am I Protected as long as the Hit and Run Driver is Caught?
Frequently, hit and run victims think the criminal justice system will ensure that they are made whole, including compensation for all medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, and lost wages. However, the criminal justice system can take months for a case to get resolved, and criminal restitution statutes can only cover certain damages.
That is why victims should immediately contact an experienced personal injury attorney to fully understand this complex system. Often, victims may utilize Victim’s Assistance or Victim’s Compensation to help with short term expenses, but longer term and complete relief is rarely achieved in the criminal system. Contact Fuller Law today to fully explore your options.
What if I’m in an Accident Caused by Another Driver Who Leaves the Scene?
First of all, if you need medical treatment, make that your highest priority. If you don’t seem to be injured or any injury is mild, call law enforcement to report the accident. If you’re able, take photos and videos of the accident site. If there are any witnesses at the site, ask them to stay to talk to the police. Take a look around to see if there are potentially any security cameras that might have recorded identifying details of the hit-and-run driver’s vehicle or license plate. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible as well, so they have the record of the accident.
Because these cases are so complex, it’s to your advantage to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney working with you. Call us at 303-597-4500 to request a free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible. Because this can be a serious legal situation, the sooner you bring an attorney who’s experienced in this field of law, the better. We understand the laws around hit-and-run and have experience investigating and litigating these cases. We’ll also advise you to get additional medical treatment shortly after the accident, as some injuries and conditions don’t appear immediately.
Is there any compensation available for victims of hit and run drivers?
Hit-and-run drivers often leave the scene because they’re impaired or don’t have the required levels of insurance. In these cases, diligent investigation can sometimes locate coverage for these accidents. However, in most cases, clients must rely on their own uninsured motorist insurance coverage to recover for both property damage and their injuries. Uninsured motorist coverage is available on your own policy and may offer the only avenue of recovery if you are a victim of a hit-and-run driver. Contact us at 303-597-4500 if you have been the victim of a hit and run driver. We can help preserve and protect your rights immediately.