What to Do If You Hit a Parked Car in Colorado

Posted On January 20, 2023 / By Manning Law / Car Accidents

Not all vehicle collisions involve two moving cars. Some crashes in Colorado involve a parked car that is either attended or unattended. In Colorado, the law requires a driver to stop, render aid if anyone is injured and leave a note if a parked vehicle is hit. Leaving the scene of this type of accident without fulfilling your driver responsibilities could constitute the crime of a hit-and-run.

Driver Responsibilities After a Car Accident in Colorado

Every driver in Colorado has a legal duty to report certain car accidents under Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) 42-4-1606. This law states that the driver of a vehicle involved in a traffic accident that results in injury, death or any property damage shall take these actions:

  • Immediately stop at the scene of the accident or return as soon as possible.
  • Exchange names, addresses and registration numbers with the other driver.
  • Show your driver’s license, if requested.
  • Render reasonable aid to any person injured.
  • Give immediate notice of the accident to the nearest law enforcement authority.

If a driver skips any of these steps or flees the scene of a crash, it is a hit-and-run accident which is a crime that can be prosecuted and penalized with fines and even jail time. A driver’s responsibilities are slightly different, however, if the accident involves a parked unattended vehicle.

What Are Your Legal Responsibilities After Hitting a Parked Car in Colorado?

Colorado has a specific law that applies to car accidents involving parked, unattended vehicles or other property. C.R.S. Section 42-4-1604 states that after a collision with an unattended vehicle, a driver has a responsibility to immediately stop and attempt to locate the operator or owner of the vehicle. If this is not possible, the driver must notify the operator or owner of the accident by securely attaching a written notice in a conspicuous place in or on the vehicle. 

The note must contain the following information:

  • The driver’s name
  • The driver’s address
  • The registration number of the vehicle he or she was driving

If the crash involved any injuries or property damage, the driver must also make a report of the collision to local law enforcement.  

Colorado Laws for a Hit-and-Run of a Parked Car

Drivers in Colorado can face legal penalties for a hit-and-run of a parked car. Failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving a parked car to fulfill the responsibilities of leaving a note or attempting to notify the owner of the vehicle is a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense in Colorado. This offense can come with fines and other penalties. Leaving the scene of an accident, especially when property damage is involved, is considered a serious offense.

Failing to adhere to legal responsibilities can result in criminal charges, including fines, license suspension, and even imprisonment, depending on the extent of the damage and any injuries incurred. Additionally, leaving the scene of an accident can lead to civil liability for damages caused. Note that this statute does not apply to a driver who strikes a fixed object, traffic control device or highway fixture.

Steps to Take After Hitting a Parked Car

If you strike a parked car in Colorado, you may suffer expensive property damage and injuries, such as whiplash. Even if you suffered no damage, if the other car was damaged, you have certain driver responsibilities. Protect yourself legally and financially by taking the following steps:

  1. Pull over as close to the scene of the accident as possible without obstructing traffic.
  2. Make an attempt to find the owner of the vehicle that you hit, such as by walking to nearby businesses and asking around.
  3. Leave a note with the required information securely attached to the vehicle if you cannot find the owner.
  4. Call 911 to report the crash if it caused property damage or injury.
  5. Wait at the scene of the accident to tell the police your side of the story and to get your police report number, if one is filed.
  6. Take photographs of the scene of the accident.
  7. If you suffered any injuries, go to a hospital without delay.
  8. Call your own car insurance company to report the accident.
  9. If you receive a call from the vehicle owner, give him or her your insurance information.
  10. Consult with a car accident attorney in Aurora, CO if you need assistance.

As the driver who struck a parked car, you will most likely be held responsible for the other vehicle’s property damage repairs. There is a chance, however, that the vehicle owner shares fault. For example, you may not be wholly responsible if the driver was parked illegally. Contact our Denver car accident attorneys for assistance with this type of case.