Most people are taught early on to immediately stop if they’re involved in a vehicular accident. Even so, hit-and-run crashes have been increasing in recent years. There are various factors that could cause such an increase, but these mean little once such an incident has already occurred. So, exactly what happens if you leave the scene of an accident in Colorado? The answer may vary depending on your situation.
What Are Hit-and-Run Laws in Colorado?
Colorado has some of the strictest laws regarding accident reporting. If you’re involved in an accident, you must at least stop to assess the damage. If either physical injuries or property damages have been sustained, you’re required under state law to contact local authorities and report the incident. The resulting police report can prove invaluable if you’re trying to seek compensation.
When someone chooses to flee the scene of an accident in Colorado, however, there are major repercussions that can occur. These are often necessarily severe — particularly considering hit-and-run accidents have been increasing in recent years. Even in a best-case scenario where only property damage occurs, the fleeing driver could face up to three months in jail along with civil fines.
Such criminal penalties will increase along with the severity of a collision. For instance, if you leave the scene of an accident that results in death, you could face a Class 3 felony along with up to 12 years in prison. To put it simply, it’s not worth it to flee the scene of an accident.
Are There Civil Penalties for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?
Anyone that flees the scene of an accident isn’t just facing potential criminal liability. They may also be held liable for injuries caused to others. This could be true even if you’re not the at-fault party in the accident. For instance, envision a scenario where another driver strikes your vehicle while improperly merging into your lane. If you leave the scene of the accident because you don’t have insurance, you’ve broken the law.
However, you’ve also failed in your duty to seek medical assistance on behalf of the other driver. If they suffer serious injuries or death due to the delay of treatment, you could be liable for their damages. Additionally, fleeing the scene will likely be considered “willful and wanton” conduct. This could result in courts requiring you to pay punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. This can become very expensive in a Denver personal injury lawsuit.
What If Another Driver Fled the Scene of an Accident?
If you’re the victim of a hit-and-run driver, you need to know what happens after someone flees the scene. First, reporting the accident is an absolute necessity. Not only will this ensure that you can seek some form of compensation, but it also guarantees that police have a record of what happened. This can prove vital even if you can only file an uninsured/underinsured insurance claim.
Reporting is also important because there may be other parties at fault for your accident — even if you’re unsure of who the other driver was. For instance, maybe cameras caught the driver leaving a bar obviously intoxicated. This could bring dram shop laws into play. There may also be instances where road hazards caused an accident, and in these cases, local authorities may be considered at fault.