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Know Your Rights: Colorado Hit and Run Laws Explained

Colorado Hit and Run Laws: Know Your Obligations and Penalties

Imagine driving down the highway, minding your own business, when suddenly, you feel a collision. You don’t know what just hit you, but your car stops, and you are left in a state of shock.

You look around and see another car driving away without stopping. You have just witnessed a hit and run.

When another driver crashes into you and drives off, you are left with damaged or injured property and the emotional aftermath of a traumatic experience. This article will guide you through Colorado’s hit and run laws and provide answers to some of your questions.

Obligations After an Accident

If you are involved in a car accident in Colorado, you must fulfill certain requirements concerning reasonable assistance and exchanging information with the other driver. Failure to do so, especially if the damage is $1000 or above, counts as a hit and run offense.

You must do the following:

1. Stop your vehicle immediately after the accident has occurred.

2. Try to fulfill your duty of care, which includes providing reasonable assistance to any injured individuals involved in the accident.

3. Exchange information with the other driver (or drivers), including your name, address, vehicle registration number, insurance company, and policy number.

4. Call the nearest law enforcement authority.

Penalties for Hit and Run

In Colorado, hit and run offenses are punishable by law, depending on their severity. If the driver leaves the scene of an accident with no injuries, it is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor, which could translate to up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

On the other hand, if the driver leaves an accident scene with bodily injuries, it is considered a Class 4 felony, which could result in up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

Hit and Run Resulting in Injury or Death

Beyond the felonies mentioned earlier, if the hit and run causes the death of a person, the driver will face charges of manslaughter, which is a Class 3 felony. If the accident causes significant bodily injury to a person, the driver may face charges of vehicular assault, which is also a Class 4 felony.

Defenses for Hit and Run

Colorado state laws protect drivers and allow for a few defenses if you have been involved in a hit and run accident. You may have a defense if you left the accident scene because of your safety, as in when there was a risk of harm to your person.

Another defense could be that the accident victim did not suffer any injury, and therefore, you were not aware that damages had occurred. If you were incapacitated, permission may have been given to someone else to move the car and help the victim seek treatment.


Every state approaches the issue of fault in car accidents differently. Colorado is an at-fault state, which means that a driver who causes an accident is considered financially and legally responsible for the damages resulting from the accident.

Negligent Acts

Negligent acts cover any actions that demonstrate an individual’s failure to take necessary care while driving. The following are some of the actions that could be considered negligent, and you could be at fault:


DUI: Driving under the influence of any substance, whether alcohol or drugs. 2.

Disobeying Traffic Signs: A driver that fails to stop at a stop sign or runs a red light can be considered at fault. 3.

Unsafe Lane Changes: For instance, failing to signal when changing lanes or darting in front of another vehicle. 4.

Speeding: When a driver travels above the speed limit or too fast for the road condition, they may be considered at fault. 5.

Following Too Closely: When a driver follows another car too close, this is known as tailgating. 6.

Road Rage: When one driver displays aggressive or violent behaviors towards another driver, they are considered at fault.


Every driver should know Colorado’s laws on hit and run offenses, as well as how to fulfill their obligations following an accident. It may help to consult with a personal injury attorney for guidance if you find yourself in such a situation.

As for fault in car accidents, understanding what negligent acts constitute and how they translate to fault can provide you with a better understanding of your legal rights and responsibilities as a driver. Remember, driving safely can save lives and keep you from facing legal consequences that come with at-fault accidents.

What to Do After an Accident in Colorado: Gathering Evidence and Knowing the

Statute of Limitations

Car accidents are daily occurrences on Colorado’s highways, leaving car owners with damaged property and personal injuries. If you are ever involved in a car accident in Colorado, there are certain steps to follow to ensure the safety of all parties involved, as well as the appropriate legal recourse.

This article will guide you on what to do after an accident, including evidence gathering, knowing the statute of limitations and the difference between hit and run and leaving the scene of an accident.

Documentation and Evidence Gathering

After an accident, it is recommended that you take the following steps to gather evidence and document the information:

1. Write down all details of the accident, including the date, location, the other driver’s information, and the circumstances leading up to the accident.

2. Gather witness testimony if available.

Witnesses can reinforce your account of the accident or provide additional information that may be helpful. 3.

Take photos of the scene, including the damages to the vehicles involved. Make sure to take photos of any injuries you have sustained.

4. Contact law enforcement and notify your insurer about the accident.

This will help to expedite the claims process. 5.

If you require medical attention, seek it immediately. Save any medical records, receipts, and bills you receive.

Statute of Limitations

In Colorado, there are specific time limitations, known as the statute of limitations, that one has to bring a claim for personal injury or property damage arising from a car accident. The following are the limitations:


Three years from the date of the accident: This limitation applies to most personal injury lawsuits. 2.

Five years from the date of the accident: If someone suffered a serious injury or died from the accident, they have five years to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. 3.

Ten years from the date of the accident: In cases of vehicular homicide, the statute of limitations is ten years, starting from the date of the accident.

The Difference Between Hit and Run and Leaving the Scene of an Accident

It is essential to understand the legal difference between a hit and run offense and leaving the scene of an accident. When you are involved in an accident, you are required to stop, check for injuries, and provide reasonable assistance to anyone injured.

If you leave the scene of the accident before fulfilling these obligations, you can be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. It is different from a hit and run offense.

Hit and run occurs when you are involved in an accident but fail to provide identification, insurance information, or any other required assistance to the other driver or passengers. If you leave the scene of the accident, you may still face hit-and-run charges.

Hit and Run While Intoxicated in Colorado

One of the most dangerous and irresponsible actions anyone can take behind the wheel is driving under the influence. A driver who causes an accident due to driving under the influence and leaves the scene of the accident before fulfilling their obligations is subject to harsh penalties under Colorado law.

Penalties and Mandatory Minimum Sentence

In Colorado, hit and run accidents that involve drunk driving are treated with severity, especially if there are injuries or fatalities. Intoxicated drivers who cause an accident and leave the scene face charges that come with mandatory minimum sentences.

If the driver left the scene of an accident with no injuries, it is considered a Class 4 felony, with a mandatory minimum of three years of parole and up to six years in prison. If the driver leaves the accident scene with bodily injuries, they could go up to a Class 3 felony, carrying a maximum prison term of 14 years and fines up to $750,000.

Vehicular Homicide

When a hit and run accident involving DUI results in the death of another person, the driver can face charges of vehicular homicide, which is a class three felony. A conviction carries up to 14 years in prison, fines up to $750,000, and mandatory parole for five years.


Colorado laws regarding car accidents and hit and run vary in their application, depending on the severity of the situation. Understanding your legal rights and obligations is imperative after involvement in a car accident, especially if the other party is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Gathering proper evidence and documentation and meeting the statute of limitations is also crucial for pursuing legal action in the case of personal injury or property damage. Remember to drive responsibly and with caution to avoid causing accidents altogether.

Other Colorado Laws:

Reporting Accidents, Liability, and

Video Footage

Car accidents are a common occurrence, and Colorado laws govern how they should be handled. Knowing the rules that govern car accidents could help you make informed decisions that protect your legal rights and interests.

This article will dive into Colorado’s reporting accident laws, liability and damages, and how video footage can be helpful evidence in car accident cases.

Reporting Accidents

If you are involved in a car accident, it is essential to report it to the necessary authorities as soon as possible. In Colorado, the law requires an accident report to be filed if the accident results in bodily injury or death, or if the damages to either car or property are above $1000.

A traffic collision report is filed with the Colorado Department of Revenue and must be done within 72 hours after the accident. The report must have information such as the location of the collision, the date and time of the accident, and other details regarding the parties and vehicles involved.

The failure to report an accident could result in citations, fines, and even suspension of driver’s licenses.

Liability and Damages

Colorado is an at-fault state regarding car accidents, meaning that the driver who caused the accident and is found to be liable is responsible for paying any damages that occur. Liability usually depends on a determination of fault.

This determination considers the factors surrounding the accident, such as the driver’s conduct, the road condition, any witnesses, and the police report. The at-fault party or their insurance company is responsible for paying for the accident and any damages.

The insurer of the at-fault party will typically provide compensation to the affected parties.

Video Footage

Video footage is one of the most valuable pieces of evidence that could be used in car accident cases. In Colorado, it is legal to use video footage as evidence, as long as it was captured in a public place or not violating any privacy laws.

When gathering evidence for an accident case, video footage can be used to provide detailed accounts of what happened during the accident. Video footage can come from a variety of sources, including traffic camera footage, home surveillance cameras, or dashcams.

The footage can show the collision and potentially prove who was at fault. It is always imperative to gather relevant video footage as soon as possible since the footage can be lost or overwritten.


Video Footage and Gathering Evidence

If you have been in a car accident, it can be challenging to gather evidence. Some steps you can take to find useful evidence include:


Gathering police reports: After an accident, a police officer will create a report. This report will include vital information about the accident, including any witness statements and the officer’s interpretation of the accident.

This information can be used to determine who is at fault. 2.

Looking for surveillance footage: Location surveillance cameras may have captured the accident, making it easier to determine who is at fault. If you locate any helpful footage, you should notify the police or your attorney.

3. Collecting witness information: If there are any witnesses to the accident, it would be helpful to collect their contact information and ask them to provide a statement for your records.

4. Documenting the scene: Take pictures of the accident scene, including the impacted cars, any damages, the road conditions, and any other relevant details.


Car accidents in Colorado can be complex legal matters. Knowing the reporting accident laws, liability and damages, and how video footage can be a valuable tool in winning a case could help you make informed decisions if you are ever involved in an accident.

Remember to gather necessary information and to report any accidents to the authorities as soon as possible. The law is on your side when it comes to protecting your legal rights and seeking compensation for any losses or damages you have incurred.

In conclusion, understanding Colorado’s laws regarding car accidents is crucial for all drivers. Reporting accidents promptly, knowing liability and damages, and utilizing video footage as evidence are essential steps to protect your legal rights and seek compensation.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your case is handled correctly and increase your chances of a favorable outcome. Remember, being well-informed and proactive can make a significant difference in the aftermath of a car accident, ensuring that justice is served and your rights are protected.

Drive safely, stay vigilant, and be prepared in case an accident occurs.

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