Not only is it morally wrong to leave the scene of an accident, it’s also illegal under Colorado law. Unfortunately, hit and run accidents are still prevalent in Colorado, and many of the drivers who flee the scene after causing an accident have what they consider good reasons for doing so: they are unlicensed, uninsured, impaired, or have an outstanding arrest warrant against them.
But that doesn’t help you when you’re left without compensation to pay for your damages. If you’re the victim of a hit and run accident, here are some suggestions:
- Observe where the other driver goes, but don’t try to follow him. Leaving the scene to chase the other driver may be dangerous for you as well as other motorists, since you may be injured and your car damaged. Instead, stay at the scene to talk to the police. You can help them determine what happened and give them any information you may have about the responsible party.
- Take note of the other vehicle. Try to memorize the license plate number, model, make, and color of the vehicle, as well as any damage it sustained and the general direction it went after the collision. Also write down the location, the time of the accident, and as much as you can remember about the sequence of events.
- Call the police and file a police report. If you act quickly, the at-fault party may not have a chance to get too far away and the police may be able to locate them within a short time.
- Get medical attention. Even if you don’t think you’re injured, you should still see a doctor so that any potential injuries you may have suffered can be assessed. This is particularly important if the collision was forceful enough to cause the airbags to deploy or for you to sustain whiplash.
- Contact your insurer. A hit and run accident is often treated like an uninsured motorist claim, so if you purchased this type of coverage, you need to make your insurance provider aware of the incident. In Colorado, although insurers are required to offer uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, motorists have the option to waive the coverage (in writing), so if you declined to purchase uninsured coverage, you’ll likely have to pay the damages out of your own pocket.
- If you weren’t there when the accident occurred, but when you returned to your car you noticed a dent that wasn’t there before, record the basic information — date, time, place, and damage, and contact the police. That’s all you can do, unless someone else witnessed the accident.
Hit and run claims are often tricky and complex, so if you don’t think your insurer is treating you fairly, consider retaining a personal injury lawyer to help ensure that you are properly compensated for your injuries.
Image by Michael Sandoval