Is It Illegal to Leave the Accident Scene in Colorado?
Colorado laws make it illegal to leave the scene of the accident without fulfilling your duties under the law. You mustn’t leave the accident scene even if the vehicles involved only sustained property damage. It’s a more severe crime to leave the scene if someone involved in the accident suffered injuries or lost their lives.
The offense is known as a hit-and-run and is charged as a felony. If you’re facing charges for leaving the accident scene after an accident, you need legal representation from skilled criminal defense lawyers in Colorado Springs. The accusations can be severe, involving a range of offenses, and experienced lawyers can defend you.
What Are My Duties After a Car Accident?
Everyone involved in a car accident has a statutory duty to stop and do the following:
- Check their passengers and the other drivers and their passengers for injuries.
- Call 911 to request medical assistance.
- Report the accident to the police and file a report.
- Exchange contact information such as their full name, driver’s license number, and license plate number with all the other people involved in the accident.
- Obtain contact information from any witnesses.
- Take photos of the accident scene, injuries, and damages.
- Notify their insurance company that they were involved in an accident.
It’s also advisable to consult felony crime lawyers in Colorado Springs. They can discuss your options, rights, and anything else you need to know regarding the accident. Let the hit-and-run accident lawyers know if you need legal representation, depending on the circumstances.
What if I Hit an Unoccupied Vehicle?
An exception about what to do at the accident scene is if you hit an unoccupied car in Colorado or damage other property. In that case, you must stop and:
- Locate and notify the operator of the vehicle or property
- Securely attach a notice to the property in a place where it can easily be seen
The contents of the notice should include your name, address, and the vehicle’s registration number (the car you were driving at the time of the accident). The next step is to report the accident to the police and return to the accident scene if they require that of you.
What Happens if I Leave the Accident Scene?
Leaving the accident scene and refusing to call the police may contribute to a comparative negligence claim against you. If no witnesses were present, the other driver could attribute the full fault of the crash to you, even if you were just partially at fault. Under comparative negligence laws, you could:
- Receive a lower potential monetary award than your case is worth
- Fail to receive any compensation at all
Remaining at the accident scene is the best way to protect your rights and avoid facing felony charges whose penalties can be severe.
What Are the Penalties for Fleeing the Accident Scene?
The penalties for fleeing the accident scene depend on several factors:
- Whether the other vehicle or some other property was damaged
- Whether the other vehicle or property was occupied
- Whether anyone involved in the accident sustained injuries, serious bodily injury, or death
Four potential criminal charges you may face for a hit-and-run offense are the following:
- Hit and run resulting in the death of the victim: A class 3 felony punishable by between 4 and 12 years in prison and fines of between $3,000 and $750,000
- Hit and run causing serious bodily injury: A class 4 felony punishable by between 2 and 6 years in prison and fines of between $2,000 and $500,000
- Hit and run leading to non-serious bodily injury: A class 1 traffic misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment of 10 days to 1 year and fines of between $300 and $1,000
- Hit and run causing property damage: This is a class 2 misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment for 10 to 90 days and $150 to $300.
You could also face civil liability if the victims file a lawsuit against you. If found liable, the court could order you to compensate the victim. The award could include medical bills, car repairs, and other losses suffered by the victim. Skilled felony crime lawyers in Colorado Springs can help you beat the charges or fight aggressively to have the penalties reduced.
Other Consequences of a Hit-and-Run Conviction
Upon being convicted of leaving the scene after an accident, the DMV could also:
- Add 12 points to your Colorado driving record
- Revoke your license
All these can be too much for you to handle all at once. Skilled leaving the accident scene attorneys in Colorado Springs can provide legal support and counsel to help you navigate the issues.
How Can I Defend Myself Against Charges for Leaving the Accident Scene?
Depending on the case specifics, experienced hit and run defense attorneys in Colorado Springs can help you create a strong defense strategy.
Common defenses include:
- You had to seek immediate medical care as you were too injured to remain at the accident scene
- You left in search of the police or to find help for someone who was seriously injured
- You didn’t realize anyone was injured or there was property damage
- No one was injured, and you left a note
- You were wrongly accused; for example, the victim noted down the wrong license plate number
An Experienced Felony Crime Attorney Helping You Beat Hit-and-Run Charges
Facing charges for leaving the accident scene after an accident can have severe consequences. You risk potential jail time and hefty fines depending on the circumstances of the accident. Experienced Colorado Springs felony crime attorneys can evaluate your case and help you create a solid defense strategy for a favorable outcome.
The Lux Law Firm hosts aggressive criminal defense attorneys who can walk with you during this challenging time. We work hard to defend our clients against felony charges to protect them from possible imprisonment and other hefty consequences. Don’t let a crime you committed in the past ruin your future. Call us at 719-451-7469 to schedule a FREE case assessment.