Is Leaving the Scene of an Accident a Felony in Colorado?

Posted On August 1, 2022 / By Manning Law / Car Accidents

All motor vehicle drivers in Colorado must perform certain duties in the event of a car accident. This includes checking for injuries, rendering aid and notifying the police of a serious crash. If a driver flees the scene without stopping and fulfilling these responsibilities, it is a crime in Colorado called a hit-and-run. This crime can be charged as a felony if the accident caused serious bodily injury or death. Learn more from our Denver car accident lawyers about responsibilities after a car accident, 

What Are a Driver’s Responsibilities After a Car Accident?

Every driver must stop at the scene of an accident or as close as possible to the scene. If a driver continues to drive after a collision, he or she must turn around and come back immediately. Then, the driver must remain at the scene until he or she has fulfilled every requirement, as laid out by Colorado law. The law states that all drivers have the following responsibilities after accidents that result in property damage, injuries or death:

  • Immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the accident or as close as possible.
  • Remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the legal requirements.
  • Exchange information with the other driver (name, address and vehicle registration number).
  • Leave a note with this information in a conspicuous place if the vehicle is unattended.
  • Provide reasonable assistance to any person injured, where practical.
  • Give immediate notice of the location of the accident to an authorized police authority.
  • Stay at the scene of the crash until the police have arrived and completed their investigation.

Notifying the police is only a requirement if the traffic accident resulted in injury, serious bodily injury, death or property damage. If a driver leaves the scene to report the accident, this is acceptable and not viewed as a hit-and-run. If the driver speeds away with the intention of not being identified or held liable for the accident, however, this is a crime that can be charged as a felony in Colorado. Seek professional legal representation from a Denver personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your collision.

What Are Colorado’s Hit-and-Run Laws? 

Colorado Revised Statute Section 42-4-1601 lists the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident without stopping or fulfilling a driver’s responsibilities. It states that anyone who violates the duty of care to stop at the scene, render aid and exchange information has committed a crime (hit-and-run). State law classifies this crime in four ways:

  • Class 2 misdemeanor if the collision was not reported to the police.
  • Class 1 misdemeanor if the collision resulted in injury to any person.
  • Class 4 felony if the accident resulted in serious bodily injury to any person.
  • Class 3 felony if the accident resulted in the death of any person.

“Injury” refers to any pain, illness, or impairment of a victim’s physical or mental condition. “Serious bodily injury” is one that involves a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, bone fractures, second-degree or third-degree burns, or loss or impairment of the function of an organ.

What Are the Penalties for a Felony Hit-and-Run?

If a driver flees the scene of an accident that causes injury or death, he or she can be charged with a felony. Being convicted of this crime can result in a criminal sentence of 2 to 12 years in prison and/or fines of $2,000 to $750,000, based on the severity of the accident and the harm inflicted. The driver may also lose his or her driving privileges and owe the victim(s) restitution.

In addition to criminal consequences, a hit-and-run driver can also face a Colorado personal injury claim brought by the crash victim or a wrongful death action brought by surviving family members. A civil case may require the driver who fled the scene to pay for a victim’s medical expenses, property damage repairs, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other losses. Working with an experienced hit-and-run accident lawyer in Aurora can help you recover compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one was injured in a hit-and-run accident in Colorado, contact Manning Law for information about your legal rights.