Colorado Hit-and-Run Crashes Jump in Beginning of 2023
Hit-and-run accidents are on the rise across Colorado this year in what state law enforcement officers call an “alarming” trend.
Hit-and-run crashes were up 22% in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same three-month stretch in 2022, according to data compiled by Colorado State Patrol. Such accidents happen when one or more drivers involved in the collision flee the scene rather than waiting for emergency medical service providers and police to arrive.
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious traffic violation and sometimes a felony crime. It can come with fines, driver’s license points and even jail time under state law.
“Whether the driver doesn’t have a license, is impaired, or drove carelessly/recklessly and for whatever reason leaves the scene of a crash, although serious in nature, it pales in comparison to the charges he could face by leaving the scene,” Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew C. Packard said in a statement announcing the spike in hit and run accidents.
A total of 729 hit-and-run accidents happened across Colorado in the first three months of the year, according to CSP. That is up from 596 over the same period last year.
Some people simply panic when an accident happens and make the shortsighted decision to flee. Others may speed off because they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or do not have auto insurance and are worried about the consequences.
“Operating out of fear will only worsen this situation,” Packard said in the statement. “Stay at the scene, check to make sure if you or anyone else is injured and call 911 to report the collision.”
A driver who flees the scene after being involved in an accident that does not cause serious injuries is looking at as much as 10 days in jail, not to mention fines that range from $300 to $1,000. If the collision causes one or more serious injuries, the hit-and-run driver faces a felony charge. A felony hit-and-run conviction comes with a punishment of two to six years behind bars, as well as up to $500,000 in fines.
Fatal hit-and-run crashes are the most serious criminal offenses. A driver in a hit-and-run that results in the death of a pedestrian, cyclist, motorcycle rider or a person traveling in a car or truck may be punished with up to 12 years in prison and as much as $750,000 in fines.
At least five drivers apprehended by CSP this year have been charged with a felony for leaving the scene of an accident, according to the agency. Another three cases remain open and CSP is requesting public assistance to identify and locate the drivers involved.
In one open case, a four-vehicle crash on Highway 287 just south of Larimer County left one person dead. In another, a 19-year-old bicycle rider was killed after being struck by a vehicle in El Paso County. A motorcyclist was found dead in a third crash, also in El Paso County, after colliding with a Ford F-250 pickup truck.
Hit-and-Runs Continue in Colorado
Hit-and-run crashes are all too common in Denver and across Colorado, as the new CSP data show.
Speeding off after a collision, rather than staying at the scene and calling for police and emergency medical service, delays people injured in the crash from getting crucial medical attention. That can mean the difference between life and death.
These crashes continue to happen, despite the consequences for both the people injured in the accident and those that speed away.
A Denver man was arrested in late May, for instance, accused of a fatal hit-and-run crash in Aurora.
The man allegedly fled the scene after slamming his car into a cyclist near East Colfax Avenue and North Joliet Street. The 56-year-old cyclist suffered serious injuries and later died at the scene of the crash, Sentinel Colorado reports.
Police located the vehicle hours later and the driver reportedly admitted to being behind the wheel at the time of the accident. He was charged with vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a crash involving death.
Just weeks later, a person in a stolen car reportedly mowed down a pedestrian on Fourth and Broadway in Denver. The driver then fled the scene, according to a local news report, leaving the pedestrian seriously injured.
Legal Rights for People Injured in Car Accidents
Anyone who is injured in a car accident in Colorado, whether it is caused by a hit-and-run driver or other factors, has the right to seek compensation from those responsible for the collision.
An experienced Denver car accident attorney can help you seek compensation for medical bills, property damages, missed wages and other financial impacts stemming from your injuries. In the tragic event that a person is killed in a car crash, a lawyer can also help certain family members pursue a wrongful death case.
To get compensation for an accident, you generally have to be able to prove negligence. This legal theory holds people and entities responsible when they do not live up to certain duties.
State law requires drivers in Colorado to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe manner. That means complying with traffic laws and refraining from dangerous activity behind the wheel. A driver who does not live up to this responsibility and causes a crash as a result – including a driver who makes matters worse by fleeing the scene – is likely to be liable for any injuries and other damage stemming from the accident.
Speak With a Denver Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident in Colorado, an experienced Denver personal injury lawyer at Levine Law can help. Our attorneys combine decades of experience and a strong track record of success in the courtroom and through negotiated settlements.
Our lawyers are pleased to serve clients throughout Colorado, including in Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft. Collins and Loveland. Call us at 303-333-8000 or contact us online to speak with a Denver personal injury lawyer.