It’s a frightening scenario. Another driver smashes into you from behind, spinning you off the road and into the shoulder, but before your head stops spinning, the driver has fled the scene, leaving you all alone to deal with the aftermath.
If you were severely injured, this could even be a life-threatening situation.
Unfortunately for many Colorado residents, this is an all too real event. Hit-and-run accidents happen far more often than most people imagine. For victims, it can turn into a nightmare, as they might not only be left with debilitating injuries and steep medical bills, but it may be unclear who’s going to pay for everything.
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run collision, it’s imperative that you seek the help of a qualified personal injury lawyer immediately. The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., can assess your situation and guide you toward the best possible outcome.
Why Would a Driver Flee the Scene of an Accident?
For example, if the driver was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, he will fear being arrested for a DUI. Additionally, he may not be thinking clearly, causing him to panic. Of course, this does not excuse a driver fleeing the scene, which is a serious crime in Colorado.
Furthermore, a driver may flee if he is not legally supposed to be driving. For example, the lack of a valid driver’s license or having a suspended license is a frequent cause of a driver running after a collision. The same thing can happen when the driver is not properly insured.
Sometimes, the driver has an outstanding warrant for his arrest or is already on probation and fears going back to jail. The driver may have stolen the car, or did not have permission to drive it. In other cases, the driver may be a commercial driver or be using a company car, and wants to avoid getting in trouble with his employer or losing his job.
These are just a few of the more common scenarios. Whatever the case may be, the driver likely fears the repercussions enough that they would risk breaking the law. If this happens to you, don’t try and chase after the driver yourself. Instead, check to see whether you are injured, and then call the proper authorities as soon as possible.
What Are the Penalties for a Hit-and-Run?
The State of Colorado recently enacted stiffer penalties for hit-and-run accidents to discourage people from fleeing the scene of a collision. Under the new law, the Division of Motor Vehicles has the ability to suspend the license of anyone who was involved in an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury or death and failed to immediately stop or return to the scene of the accident.
Colorado law distinguishes between occupied vehicles and unoccupied vehicles. If you hit and cause damage to an unoccupied vehicle, for instance in a parking lot, you have a legal obligation to locate the operator of the vehicle or to securely attach a notice to the car with the following information: your name, your address, and the registration number of your vehicle. You also are required to report the accident to the proper authorities.
If the car was occupied, you must remain at the scene unless you have been injured and are in need of immediate medical attention, or you leave in order to report the accident to law enforcement. If someone else in the accident was injured, you are lawfully required to give reasonable assistance, whether that involves taking the injured person to a hospital, calling for an ambulance, or providing emergency medical care, if you are qualified to do so.
The penalties for leaving the scene of an accident in which a person was injured are steep. In addition to having your license immediately suspended, you could be faced with up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $300-$1,000. If the injuries are deemed to be serious, the penalties jump to 2-6 years in prison and/or a fine of $2,000-$500,000. If someone was killed in the accident, then the penalties range from 4-12 years in prison and/or a fine of $3,000-$750,000.
What Are Your Options After a Hit-and-Run in Colorado Springs?
If someone hit your car and ran, it’s helpful if you document any information and details you can remember—the license of the car that hit you, info about the car or the driver, or pictures of the accident scene. If there were any witnesses, be sure to get their names and contact info, and find out if they have any information that might help identify the driver.
Victims shouldn’t be responsible for catching the person who injured them in an accident. That’s where a trained Colorado Springs hit-and-run attorney can be particularly useful. No matter what the circumstances of your accident are, Timothy Bussey might be able to help. The legal team at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. has the resources and experience to help victims recover money for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and benefits, and other damages.
Call us today at (719) 401-0585 to schedule a free evaluation.