I WAS INVOLVED IN A HIT AND RUN. CAN I STILL FILE A CLAIM?
If another driver crashes into your vehicle and speeds away in a classic hit-and-run accident, what are your options for being compensated for damages and injuries? Most likely, the other driver will not be found, and if they are, the vehicle may be stolen, uninsured, or the person without enough resources to pay out in a civil lawsuit.
A lot will hinge on the options you agreed to in your insurance coverage. Colorado law mandates that auto insurance be offered with uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, which you must specifically ask for an exclusion.
Collision coverage, which some drivers forego, covers physical damage to your vehicle caused by another driver. Without these options in your policy, you could be stuck paying for everything yourself – repairs to your vehicle and your passengers.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a hit-and-run in or around Durango, Colorado, contact the personal injury/accident attorneys at Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, LLC.
We have more than two decades’ experience in helping victims of accidents recover the compensation due them for injuries and other losses. We proudly serve clients in Telluride, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and The Four Corners, Colorado.
What to Do When Involved in an Accident
Colorado law requires each driver involved in an accident to file a report within 60 days if there were any serious or non-serious injuries, death, or property damage. If you call the police to investigate, they will generally not come if the damages are less than $1,000 and there are no injuries. If they come and file a report, you do not have to file one yourself.
To avoid hit-and-run charges, the two drivers (or more) at the scene must:
Give their name, address, and registration information to the other drivers
Show their driver’s license to the other drivers, if requested
If an unattended vehicle is involved, try to locate the owner or leave a note giving your name and registration
Give reasonable aid to the injured
Uninsured and Underinsured
As mentioned earlier, insurance companies have a requirement to include (as part of your insurance policy) riders for Uninsured Motorists (UM) and Underinsured Motorists (UIM) in the same amount as the bodily injury limits you choose. You must turn these down to have them excluded from your protection.
Colorado insurers are also required to offer you $5,000 in medical payment, or Med Pay, protection, which you can also turn down.
Collision coverage will protect your vehicle against damages caused by another driver, which would be crucial if you’re involved in a hit and run. The coverage, however, is optional, and insurers are not required to include it in your policy.
These riders and provisions are your number-one protection should your vehicle be damaged and you and or your passengers injured in a hit and run.
Steps to Take if Involved in a Hit and Run
Your first instinct might be to hightail it after the fleeing motorist. This is never advised, as it can only lead to further trouble and trauma. Instead, try to remember as much about the other vehicle as possible – make, model, color, any numbers or letters on the license plate, and so on.
If it’s a hit and run, especially if there are injuries, you should call 911 immediately and request medical and or police assistance, but remember the police won’t come if it’s only a fender-bender with no injuries.
Take pictures with your cell phone at the scene, not only of the damage to your car but also of any injuries suffered by you or your passengers. Take pictures of any roadway signs or dangerous conditions. If there are witnesses, talk to them and try to get their statements and contact information.
As soon as you get a chance, write down or record everything that happened as best as you remember. Even if you don’t feel injured, seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible. Injuries have a way of hiding during an adrenaline rush, and many don’t appear until hours, days, or even weeks later. Keep receipts for all your medical visits.
You will need to contact your own insurance company as soon as possible. An accident report filed with the state can be delayed up to 60 days without penalty, but insurance companies have provisions requiring prompt reporting of accidents and injuries.
The next step, which you may want to do right before contacting your insurance company, is to consult with a personal injury/accident attorney to weigh all your options. You may even want to let your attorney deal with your insurance company’s claim adjusters, as they will try to get you to say or do something that they can use to lessen or deny any settlement offer.
Getting the Skilled Legal Support You Need
While you’re recovering from injuries sustained in a hit and run, the last thing you need is to deal with insurance adjusters.
Let the attorneys at Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, LLC handle the negotiations and any lawsuits that may need to be filed. Our practice is dedicated to serving victims of accidents, and we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to help you pursue the just compensation you deserve.
Downs, McDonough, Cowan & Foley, LLC proudly serves clients in Durango, Telluride, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and The Four Corners, Colorado.