Hit-and-Run Accidents & Insurance

Accidents are a stressful experience without having to have the additional worry about handling a hit and run incident and reporting what can be a more complicated crash to insurance. A hit-and-run accident can leave you feeling helpless and frustrated. What makes an accident a hit-and-run? In traffic laws, a hit and run is a situation that occurs when you are involved in an accident, either with a pedestrian or another car; and they leave the scene without stopping to identify themselves. This often occurs when the other driver or person doesn’t want to provide automobile insurance, may not carry automobile insurance, doesn’t want to have any direct contact with law enforcement due to prior criminal activity, potential open warrants or possible intoxication or impairment due to drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash. In these instances, you need to involve the police and get a personal injury attorney to help you with your hit and run accident claim and investigation into the incident.

Although legal criminal penalties for hit-and-run accidents are a ‘no joke’ situation that would give a reasonable person hesitation or pause to leave the scene of a crash, they still occur at an alarming rate. Data by NHTSA shows there were 737,100 hit-and-run crashes in 2015 (most recent data). This means there is a hit-and-run crash happening somewhere in the U.S. every 43 seconds. But what happens if the party responsible for causing the accident leaves the crash scene and cannot be identified to assert a claim against them?

Hit-and-Run Accidents & Insurance

Penalties for a hit and run in Colorado

Under Colorado law, the penalties for leaving an accident scene vary based on how severe the injuries and damage sustained in the accident are. Penalties can include a suspension or an automatic revocation of your driver's license. For instance, if your hit-and-run accident involved an injury, you would likely face a class I misdemeanor offense charge, which comes with a jail sentence of up to one year. If convicted, you would also lose your driver's license and can face a civil lawsuit if the victim submits a personal injury claim to request compensation.

If you leave the scene of an accident where someone was killed, you face Class III Felony Offense charges. If convicted, you could spend up to 12 years in prison. You may also face a wrongful death lawsuit where you may have to compensate the victim's family.

Measures to take after a hit and run

Being left alone to deal with an accident in a hit-and-run only increases frustration. It is important to keep calm and try to gather as much information as possible about the incident. Here's what to do if you are in a hit-and-run car crash:

1. Contact emergency services: Your health and that of your passengers, if any, are paramount and should be the top priority. Contact emergency services (911) for an ambulance if anyone sustained injuries. You should also request the police to come to the scene of the hit-and-run, so you can file a formal accident report for insurance. Law enforcement can also help to find the driver who fled the scene.

2. Compile information: Hit-and-run accidents happen quickly and without warning. While taking mental notes immediately after a collision can be difficult, observing and noting pieces of information is essential. This can include information about the type and model of the car, license plate number, vehicle characteristics, driver appearance, and direction the driver fled. Use the notes application inside your phone or find a loose piece of paper to record as much information as possible. These can help law enforcement and your insurance company track the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

3. Locate witnesses: If you can, look around and see if anyone was in the area who may have witnessed the accident. People in the surrounding homes or other buildings may have witnessed the accident. If willing, get their contact information and provide it to the police. The witnesses may be able to give details on the other vehicle that could help find the at-fault driver.

4. Don't leave the scene: If you've been in a hit-and-run with another driver, don't drive away, and do not pursue the driver in anger. It's essential to remain at the scene until law enforcement says otherwise.

5. Contact your insurance company: Explain that you have been involved in an accident. They will ask you to submit details about the accident, such as police reports, witness statements, and photos. Make sure to stick to the facts of what you saw. If you are unsure of any of their questions, it is okay to tell them you don’t know. In most instances, it’s better to wait and seek some legal guidance before getting further into this process.

Let's help you!

If you are a hit-and-run victim or know someone who is a victim, getting an attorney who can represent you is essential. Contact Whalen Injury Lawyers. They can help file an accident report, file a claim with your insurance provider, and pursue a personal injury case.

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