Accidents are something every motorist wishes to avoid, but there are sometimes situations in which collisions simply cannot be avoided, no matter the amount of caution exercised by their ultimate victims. All such events are stressful, frightening events, but when the driver responsible for the incident flees the scene, the frustration is compounded dramatically. Not only are victims left to struggle with physical injuries, emotional distress, and mounting medical bills, they must do so knowing that accountability from the negligent driver may never be obtained.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed in a Colorado hit and run accident, the Denver car accident lawyers at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal stands prepared to help. Whether or not the driver who caused your collision is ever apprehended by law enforcement, we will fight hard to make certain that you receive the compensation you need and deserve.
Guide to Hit-and-Run Accidents in Colorado
Hit-and-run accidents can be infuriating and increasingly stressful because they leave you to address the consequences of a collision alone. However, hit-and-runs don’t have to equate to undue stress and suffering – you have options to cover your damage even when the other driver is absent. Educate yourself on the details surrounding hit-and-run accidents in your state.
What Is a Hit-and-Run?
A hit-and-run accident is any accident where one driver flees the scene after a collision. This can happen within several contexts:
- A driver hits your car while parked. In this scenario, you won’t know who hit your car or when the incident occurred. If the other driver was courteous, they might have left a note on your windshield with their contact information.
- A driver hits your car, stops, then flees. This commonly happens after the initial collision, in which the other driver chooses to leave the scene after verifying that their vehicle is still functional. These individuals don’t leave their information but might check if you’re okay. This type of hit-and-run is common in drivers that don’t know the law requires them to stay at the scene of the accident if either driver sustains an injury.
- A driver sideswipes or clips your car, then continues driving without stopping.
Who Is Liable?
You might assume that you are the only liable party since the other driver is absent. This is not always true, but sadly the absence of the other driver prevents you from receiving any sort of compensation from their insurance company in damages. It also prevents you from pursuing other personal injury claims against them.
In most cases, specific coverages via your own insurance can cover hit-and-run accidents. Collision coverage and liability insurance are two additives to your coverage plan that will help cover the cost of your car damage following this type of accident.
How Does it Impact Insurance?
Because of the nature of hit-and-run incidences, insurance companies don’t automatically condemn their insured driver. While insurance companies do require you to pay deductibles if you have additives like collision coverage, they do not increase your premium.
What if the Police Finds the Other Driver?
In this case, all insurance and claim-related processes remain the same as a typical collision on your end. Colorado classifies a hit-and-run as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the extent of the damage done.
If the police identify your hit-and-run driver, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them in small claims court, or file with their insurance company to negotiate a settlement. In either case, the compensation amount depends on the damages the other driver caused. In successful settlement cases, victims of hit-and-run accidents have gained thousands of dollars in compensation, however context truly plays a crucial part in determining this figure. For instance, don’t expect a scratch on your bumper to amount to anything more than the cost of repair.
How to File a Hit and Run Lawsuit
If the police found the other involved driver, you can press charges against them. This requires evidence, via picture, of the damage that the incident did to your car. Hiring a lawyer will help you determine what damages you can claim, how to file, and can even give you a ballpark estimate of how much you could make in settlement/court. Colorado provides a three-year statute of limitations when filing car-related personal injury claims – take advantage of your time and prepare accordingly with your skilled attorney.
Hit-and-run accidents are stressful events that can have negative repercussions if you are not prepared. Having inadequate insurance coverage can leave you defenseless, so don’t count on finding the other driver to pay for your damages. The best defense in this case is to make sure your insurance coverage is sound.
Basic Facts About Colorado Hit and Run Accidents
Plainly stated, a hit and run driver is one who causes or plays a significant role in a traffic accident and who subsequently fails to stop immediately and provide their identity to victims on the scene. Colorado law emphasizes that any motorist involved in a crash, no matter the degree of injury or damage that results, must stop and give several key pieces of information to the other affected parties. The required documentation includes:
- legal name
- driver’s license number and originating state
- identification number of the vehicle involved
- name, address and other contact information for that driver’s insurance carrier
Anyone who does not fulfill these obligations after an accident leaves themselves open to a misdemeanor charge of hit and run and potential civil liability.
What to Do Immediately Following a Hit and Run
The minutes and even hours following an auto accident can be a time characterized by panic, confusion, and worry, but it is important for victims to take a few critical steps in order to maximize their chances of receiving justice as well as compensation. Though details of the crash may initially seem fuzzy, it is wise to make every effort to recall things such as the make, model, and color of the offending vehicle. Even a partial license plate number can make a big difference in apprehending the responsible party. Obtaining the names and contact information of eyewitnesses can also be extremely useful in the investigations to come.
Though some victims of hit and run accidents may be so enraged by what occurred that they attempt to apprehend the offender on their own, it is far better to immediately contact law enforcement so that their search process can get underway.
Negotiating with Insurers Following Your Accident
The injuries resulting from a hit and run accident can be extremely serious, requiring extended periods of convalescence and costly medical treatment. Many victims are confronted with the question of how they will ever be able to pay for the emergency and ongoing treatment necessitated by their crash, particularly if the person responsible for the harm remains unidentified. Fortunately, a victim’s own insurance policy will likely be available to cover at least some of the unanticipated expenses, though claims personnel may do everything they can to minimize what they must pay.
Civil Liability of Hit and Run Drivers Who are Apprehended
If the police are eventually able to locate the hit and run driver, it may also be possible for victims to pursue that individual in civil court for recovery of lost wages, reductions in future earning capacity, medical costs, rehabilitation and therapy expenses, pain, suffering and other losses caused by his or her negligence behind the wheel. Jeremy Rosenthal will make every effort to achieve a negotiated settlement under such circumstances, but if that proves impossible, he will not hesitate to bring his considerable trial advocacy abilities to the forefront in order to achieve accountability and fair compensation for his clients.
Why Victims Should Pursue Compensation
Anyone who has been in a serious auto accident will likely attest to the extremely difficult nature of the days and weeks that follow such an event. Car crashes are known for their ability to produce catastrophic injuries that include:
- bone fractures
- internal organ damage
- deep lacerations
- traumatic brain injury
- spinal cord injury/paralysis
- nerve damage
- back injuries
- wrongful death
At times like these, the focus of victims and their families often rests primarily on simple survival and short-term progress toward recovery, with the concept of legal action taking a definite back seat. However, it is important for such individuals to understand that the law does afford them the opportunity to seek full and fair compensation designed to ease the financial and other burdens they unexpectedly now face.
How The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal Can Help
Jeremy Rosenthal is committed to providing a comprehensive approach to advocating on behalf of hit and run accident victims. By initiating a thorough investigation of the facts of each case, working collaboratively with medical experts, accident reconstruction technicians and others, attorney Rosenthal will marshal the evidence and arguments necessary to maximize client recovery. Whether engaging in negotiations with stubborn insurance claims adjusters or doing battle in a hotly contested civil lawsuit, clients of the Denver injury attorneys at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal can rest assured that their attorney is giving them the zealous representation and dedicated service to which they are entitled.
Helping Hit and Run Victims Throughout Colorado
The feelings of anger and helplessness that can besiege victims of hit and run accidents are indeed real, and it may be difficult to know where to turn. Jeremy Rosenthal wants those harmed in crashes of this type to realize that dedicated legal counsel is within close reach. To learn more how our firm can work to obtain the outcome you deserve, contact us at (303) 825-2223.