Of the many horrible ways a car accident can occur, hit-and-run accidents may be the most overwhelming to navigate. Being the victim of a car crash can be devastating, but that feeling is only magnified when the other driver flees the scene without stopping to show concern and to make sure you’re OK. It is deeply unfair to you and your passengers. And it also makes it harder for you to seek compensation from the absent driver. Ultimately, this makes a challenging situation for you and your passengers, especially when it comes to paying for any medical bills and/or other expenses related to the crash.
If you’ve been the victim of a hit-and-run accident in the Denver area, you don’t have to fight this battle alone. The entire team at the Olson Law Firm have extensive experience and knowledge that they can put to work on your side to help you, and other hit-and-run accident victims pursue the compensation they deserve to help put their lives back together and move forward with their lives.
It is Olson’s commitment to fighting for the clients that have earned him a perfect 10 rating from Avvo.com and his esteemed membership in the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an invitation-only group of trial lawyers who’ve won multi-million dollar settlements on half of their clients.
The Olson Law Firm is always here for you to listen and to review your options regarding your case. To schedule your free initial consultation, call us today at (303) 586-7297 or visit our contact page.
What Is a Hit-and-Run Accident in Denver?
If a driver is involved in a car accident in which one or more vehicles are damaged, Colorado law requires the driver to remain at the scene and exchange their driver’s license and registration information with anyone else who was involved in the crash. If the driver does not remain at the scene to give the required information, they can be charged with a crime, and the crash is deemed a hit-and-run accident.
Under a law passed in 2017, police in Colorado can seize the driver’s license of any suspected hit-and-run driver. The driver may also face additional criminal penalties.
Hit-and-run accidents don’t just involve vehicles, however. They can also involve pedestrians and bicyclists. Drivers are required to stop and offer assistance if they hit a pedestrian or bicyclist. Unfortunately, sometimes a driver will panic and flee the scene. Though only one car is involved in this type of accident, it’s still a hit-and-run accident because the driver did not stop and fulfill their legal duties to the victim.
Hit-and-run accidents are shockingly common. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Study, hit-and-run accidents are on the rise. And, nearly 65% of people killed in fatal hit-and-run crashes are pedestrians or bicyclists.
What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Denver
While it’s very overwhelming to be involved in a hit-and-run accident, especially when you did not have the opportunity to identify the driver who hit you, it’s important to do your best to stay calm after a crash. Even if you can’t find the driver responsible for the accident, you still have options available to you to receive compensation as long as you take appropriate steps.
Here are the steps you should follow after a hit-and-run accident:
Call 911 to alert police and emergency medical personnel: If you got a look at the vehicle that hit you and you act quickly, the police may be able to find the responsible driver so they can be held accountable for their actions. Even if you did not see the driver, however, calling the police is still important because you’ll want a record of the accident. Without a police report, you may not have any official documentation of the accident when you file a claim with your insurance company. Getting medical treatment is also important, especially if you were not in a vehicle when the accident occurred. Even seemingly minor car crashes can inflict terrible injuries, and you’ll want to be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Take photos: If you can, try to get a picture of the vehicle that caused the accident. Doing so will make it easier for police to track down the responsible driver. Even if you can’t get a picture of the other car, though, you still want to take as many pictures as you can. Be sure to take pictures of the damage to your car, any injuries you sustained, any injuries to anyone else who was hurt in the accident (passengers in your car, other pedestrians on the sidewalk with you, etc.), the area around the scene of the crash, any traffic signs in the area, any surveillance cameras that might have recorded the incident, and so on. Pictures help substantiate your claim if the other driver tries to argue they aren’t responsible for your injuries.
Get contact information from any witnesses: If anyone else saw the accident, their testimony will be invaluable if you decide to file a claim for damages. Get their name, phone number, email address, and mailing address.
Save all of your bills, pay stubs, and medical records: Compensation for your medical bills, physical pain and suffering, and lost wages are key categories of damages if you can find the driver who caused your accident. Saving these documents makes it easier to calculate the value of your losses and receive the compensation you deserve. Even if you can’t find the driver who hit you, you can still pursue compensation for your injuries and other losses stemming from the accident using your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (more on that below).
Call an attorney: Hit-and-run claims can be difficult to prove without the right evidence. Hiring a lawyer early on will make the process much easier. A hit-and-run accident attorney can help you gather evidence to support your claim and handle negotiations with the other driver’s insurer. If you cannot find the driver who hit you, a lawyer can help you file a claim with your own insurance company, so you aren’t completely left out in the cold after the accident.
Common Causes of Denver Hit-and-Run Accidents
There are many reasons that a driver may flee the scene of an accident. Many of them involve some component of fear, but that’s not always the case. Here are a few of the most common causes of hit-and-run accidents in Denver:
- The driver was drunk or abusing drugs: If a driver knows they are over the legal alcohol limit or has been abusing other drugs, they may fear the consequences of their bad behavior being discovered after an accident and flee the scene. Alternatively, in some cases, a driver is so intoxicated from using drugs or alcohol that they may not notice that they hit another person or vehicle until they get home and see the damage to their own car.
- The driver was fatigued: Fatigue slows drivers’ reaction times and impairs their ability to think quickly, either of which can cause an accident. If a driver is fatigued and an accident occurs, they may panic without fully considering the potential consequences of their actions and drive away.
- The driver was distracted: Technological advancements have led to more and more distractions for drivers. These include making a phone call while driving, sending or reading a text while driving, eating or drinking while driving, adjusting the music in the car, and more. Any of these distractions can lead to a crash, and the driver may flee the scene out of fear of being punished for their negligent behavior.
- The driver does not have insurance or is underinsured: An uninsured or underinsured driver may flee the scene of a crash because they’re worried that they won’t be able to pay for the damage they’ve caused. Ironically, these drivers will only find themselves in more trouble if they leave the crash site and are caught later on.
- The driver’s license is invalid: If the driver is driving on a suspended license, they may leave the scene of a crash to avoid facing additional penalties for their actions.
Can I Get Compensation for a Hit-and-Run Accident?
Recovering compensation after a hit-and-run accident depends on a number of factors, the biggest one being whether you can find the driver who hit you. If you can find the driver, it’s relatively straightforward to collect compensation with help from an experienced hit-and-run accident attorney. In cases where the other driver can be found, you can pursue damages for your past and future medical costs, lost wages, your physical pain, and suffering, and other losses suffered in the accident.
If you cannot find the other driver, or the other driver does not have sufficient insurance to cover your losses, things get a bit more challenging. In these situations, your best option is to file a claim with your own insurance provider using your uninsured (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. Colorado law requires insurance companies to offer this coverage to drivers, though it does not require drivers to purchase this coverage.
If you do have UM/UIM coverage, you can file a claim with your insurance company to seek compensation for your medical bills, any medical bills for other passengers in your car, and any property that was damaged in the accident. If you do not have UM/UIM coverage or some other type of coverage like medical payments (MedPay) or personal injury protection (PIP), you most likely will not be able to collect any compensation.
Contact a Hit-and-Run Accident Lawyer in Denver
Hit-and-run accidents can be scary, overwhelming, and challenging cases. These cases require lawyers with experience and determination to help navigate the process that’s exactly what you’ll get when you hire the Olson Law Firm to represent you. We’ll listen to you and we’ll discuss your options with you. Ultimately, you are the final decision maker. Don’t go it alone. Let us stand by your side. To talk with us, schedule your free initial consultation by calling us today at (303) 586-7297 or visiting our contact page. We are here for you.