What Happens If You Leave the Scene of a Car Accident?

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What Happens If You Leave the Scene of a Car Accident?

When an accident occurs, the drivers involved are expected to stay at the scene of the crash and report it to law enforcement. Colorado law requires all drivers to report any accident that involves two moving vehicles immediately. But what happens when drivers don’t follow the rules? Here’s what happens if you leave the scene of a car accident from our Denver car accident attorneys.

What Happens If You Leave the Scene of a Car Accident?

If you leave the scene of an accident, you may face criminal penalties and civil liability. While leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor, when an individual suffers a serious injury or death, a driver who flees the scene of a crash faces years in prison.

After Denver Car Accident

Also, anyone who flees the scene of an accident is civilly liable to any victims who suffer damages because of their failure to comply with the law. The exact consequences depend on the unique circumstances of the accident.

Colorado Hit and Run Laws

Colorado law requires the driver of a motor vehicle to make a police report when they’re in an accident. You must stay at the scene of the crash and report it to the police. If you don’t have a phone on you, you may leave the scene to go to the nearest location and make a report. In Colorado, a hit and run is a crime. If someone is seriously hurt or killed, you face incarceration for a term of years.

Penalties for Fleeing the Scene of an Accident in Colorado

The possible penalties for fleeing the scene of an accident in Colorado include:

  • Jail time; prison time if there’s a significant injury or death
  • Fines and costs
  • Probation
  • Alcohol and drug assessments; court-mandated counseling and rehabilitative programs
  • Suspension of your driver’s license
  • Restitution
  • Civil liability

Each case is different. The penalties that you receive in your case depend on the specific facts in your case.

What Are Colorado Laws for Leaving the Scene of an Accident?

Colorado’s hit and run laws are found in Colorado law 42-4-1601 and Colorado law 42-4-1603. The law says that all drivers must stop and remain at the scene of an accident, even in minor rear-end collisions. You must do the following:

  • Report the accident to law enforcement as quickly as possible. If you have to leave briefly to find a way to report the accident to police that’s okay, but there can’t be any delay in your reporting.
  • Provide your name, address, and vehicle registration to the other driver
  • Exhibit your driver’s license to the other driver upon request
  • Render medical aid. If anyone has car accident injuries, you should summon emergency medical services.

Colorado hit and run laws apply to all accidents involving moving vehicles and property damage. The only exception is for minor accidents involving parked cars. If you hit a parked car, you should find the owner or attach a notice in a conspicuous place. You must provide your name, address, and vehicle registration number.

It’s also important to collect all of the information that you can from the other driver. Just like you must give them your personal information, they must provide you their information. In addition to getting the other driver’s details, you should try to take photographs and collect names and addresses from any witnesses. Because Colorado is an at-fault state these details, including the location of the damage, can prove to be especially helpful. You should always err on the side of caution and summon medical help if anyone has significant injuries.

Criminal Penalties for Hit and Run in Colorado

Here are the criminal penalties for a hit and run in Colorado:

  • Injuries that aren’t serious – Class 1 misdemeanor, up to one year in jail
  • Property damage only – Class 2 misdemeanor, up to 90 days in jail
  • Serious bodily injury – Felony, up to six years in prison
  • Death – Felony, up to 12 years in prison

In all cases, you may receive fines and costs. You may also pay court-ordered restitution to the other driver.

If I’m a Victim of a Hit and Run, Is Restitution Enough?

When a person gets convicted for hit and run in Colorado, the Colorado Victim Rights Act applies. The Victim Rights Act gives the victims of crime the right to notice of court proceedings. They also have the right to receive restitution from the defendant as part of the defendant’s criminal sentence. To comply with the terms of probation, the defendant must pay the other driver for their financial losses related to the accident. Restitution converts to a civil judgment against the convicted party.

Even though crime victim’s rights are an important part of the criminal justice system, restitution can’t begin to compensate you fairly for the damages that you have in a hit and run. Although restitution can cover your financial losses, it can’t compensate you for things like pain and suffering, mental injuries, and emotional anguish. Only a personal injury claim filed within Colorado statute of limitations can fairly compensate you for the full extent of your losses when you’re the victim of a hit and run.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident Civil Claim

If you’re the victim of leaving the scene of an accident, you have the right to bring a civil claim for compensation. A civil personal injury claim compensates you for the many types of losses that occur in a hit and run accident. Here are the types of compensation that you may deserve in a leaving the scene of an accident civil claim:

  • Medical bills including both past and future expenses
  • Lost wages; lost potential future income
  • Costs of rehabilitation, wheelchairs
  • Compensation for mental injuries like depression, PTSD, and anxiety
  • Emotional anguish
  • Physical pain
  • Loss of activities and lifestyle
  • Loss of family relationships

A civil claim offers a comprehensive range of benefits for all of the types of damages that you suffer because of the hit and run. An attorney can help you ensure that you include all of the categories of damages in your claim.

How Our Denver Car Accident Attorneys Can Help

Have you been in an accident? Do you have questions about your legal rights? Our Denver auto accident lawyers can help. At Bachus & Schanker, LLC, we fight for accident victims every day. We’re committed to helping you get justice after you’re the victim of an accident in Colorado. Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.

Related Reading:

Car Accidents Involving Leased Cars

What To Do If You’re In A Car Accident In A Company Car?

Colorado Ride-Share Guide: Uber & Lyft Laws

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Super Lawyers - Kyle Bachus
Super Lawyers - Darin Schanker
Million Dollar Advocates Forum
The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyer
5280 Top Lawyers of Denver
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence