What to do after a hit-and-run in Colorado

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A hit-and-run in Colorado has become an all-too-common event. There have been 3,945 Colorado hit-and-runs just in Denver this year. In many cases, the person responsible for the accident leaving the scene may not have even realized the severity of their actions. They may have damaged a parked vehicle or hit a public sign and driven off. In more severe situations, someone may have been injured and left without emergency assistance after being struck by a vehicle while crossing the street or riding a bike. According to Colorado hit-and-run law, both scenarios could classify as leaving the scene of an accident, which has serious and expensive consequences.

Hit-and-runs in Colorado

Colorado has faced what some news outlets refer to as a “hit-and-run epidemic” for years. The Denver Post keeps an updated Colorado hit-and-run report for Denver that updates the state’s hit-and-run statistics. They are unfortunately all too common, averaging almost 17 incidents per day.

There is a large concentration of hit-and-runs around Downtown Denver, where a dangerous combination of bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers share the road. Smartphone use could make the problem worse, as both drivers and pedestrians may be distracted by texts, maps and phone calls while out and about.

Regardless of your method of getting around, it is important to keep vigilant and cautious to avoid accidents. And if you are involved in a collision, stop immediately and make sure you take the appropriate action. The consequences are usually far less significant than leaving the scene.

Colorado hit-and-run laws

The hit-and-run Colorado statute is more extensive than other states. The punishment depends on the severity of the crime, as follows:

  • Property damage hit-and-run: This could be considered a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to $300 in fines and up 90 days in jail.
  • Non-serious injury hit-and-run: This could be considered a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and up to one year in jail.
  • Serious injury hit-and-run: This could be considered a felony, punishable by up to six years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
  • Fatal hit-and-run: This could be considered a felony, punishable by fines of up to $750,000 and a sentence of up to 12 years in prison.

In addition, your license may be suspended or revoked, affecting your car insurance premiums for years.

How hit-and-runs impact car insurance rates in Colorado

When it comes to vehicle insurance, even a misdemeanor hit-and-run with minimal property damage could raise your car insurance premiums more than being at fault in an accident. That’s because the severity of the charge is greater. An accident can happen to nearly anyone — that is what insurance is for. But choosing to flee the scene of an accident and potentially risking others’ lives is not taken lightly by law enforcement or insurance companies. After a hit-and-run, Colorado’s average rate is about on par with the national average, at $3,363 annually compared to $3,367 annually in the U.S.

Average annual full coverage premiums:

Before a hit-and-run After a hit-and-run After a standard accident
Colorado average $2,016 $3,365 $2,626
National average $1,674 $3,367 $2,311

5 things to do after a hit-and-run in Colorado

Evading your responsibilities as a driver involved in an accident may come with a hit-and-run charge in Colorado. Even if you only cause a small fender bender or accidentally swipe a parked vehicle or mailbox, there are five steps you should follow to help ensure you act within your legal obligations:

  1. Stop immediately: The hit-and-run Colorado statute requires that you immediately stop if you hit something or cause an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident may be considered a hit-and-run and in the state of Colorado, the chances of being caught after fleeing are high. Colorado is the first state to enact the Medina Alert. Similar to an Amber alert, authorities and the public receive notification of a hit-and-run driver’s vehicle make, model and license plate number — when available — following incidents that lead to serious bodily injury or death.
  2. Make sure everyone involved is okay: Safety should be the top priority. Make sure no one else is injured. If anyone is hurt, call for emergency services right away.
  3. Report the accident: Accidents in Colorado must be reported. If the crash is serious, call for a police officer who can investigate and write a report. If it is a less serious accident, you could file a report online when you are safely home.
  4. Take photos and leave a note: Take photos of the damages. If there are no injuries or no one was present at the scene of the accident, you may leave a note with your contact information explaining the property damage caused.
  5. Contact your insurance carrier: Let your insurance company know you were involved in an accident and submit details about the accident such as police reports, witness statements and photos.

Will insurance cover a hit-and-run?

Insurance carriers will generally cover the liability portion of a hit-and-run, such as injuries to others or your defense in court. However, unless you have a full coverage insurance policy that includes collision coverage, reimbursement for repairs and damage to your vehicle would not be included. If you were the victim of a hit-and-run and could not identify the person or vehicle who struck you, uninsured motorist coverage may still cover your related expenses and losses.

Frequently asked questions

Will my car insurance pay after a hit-and-run?

The best car insurance companies for a hit-and-run may be ones that provide full coverage that will help pay for your injuries and damages, regardless of who is at fault. Coverage including both uninsured/underinsured motorist and collision could help pay for your vehicle repairs and injuries if you cannot locate the party that hit you.

How much will my car insurance go up after a hit-and-run?

Bankrate’s research found that the average cost of car insurance in Colorado is $2,016 annually, based on rates gathered by Quadrant Information Services. After a hit-and-run conviction, the same coverage costs an average of $3,365 annually.

Why does my car insurance go up after a hit-and-run?

A hit-and-run is considered a serious offense. Colorado hit-and-run laws classify leaving the scene of an accident where serious injuries or death occur as a felony. Insurance companies find drivers who flee from an accident to be high-risk and may raise their premiums or even cancel coverage.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident and a hit-and-run.

Written by
Cynthia Paez Bowman
Personal Finance Contributor
Cynthia Paez Bowman is a finance and business journalist who has been featured in Bankrate, Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and TheSimpleDollar.com. She regularly travels to Africa and the Middle East to consult with women’s NGOs about small business development and works with select startups and women-owned businesses to provide growth and visibility.
Edited by
Insurance Editor