Denver is experiencing an unfolding tragedy due to hit-and-run accidents. According to 9News Denver:
- Every day, at least one person in the core of the metro Denver area is injured by a hit-and-run driver.
- Almost three times a month, someone, likely a pedestrian, is killed in Colorado by a motorist who then flees the scene.
- And a staggering 17 times day in Denver, someone reports a hit-and-run accident of any kind to police.
This is unconscionable! I try to imagine the thought process that seizes a driver who has just hit a pedestrian or bicyclist. It must be terrifying. But to then flee the scene of the accident? There is such a glitch in logic (and humanity) in that thinking… I’m actually glad I don’t understand it.
Here’s a story that will leave you breathless…
I have represented victims of hit-and-run accidents, which are notoriously hard for police to solve. In this case, our client was riding his bike home from work when a driver swerved and hit him so hard that it knocked the license plate off of the car. Then, the driver fled the scene.
Our client required knee and leg surgery and he had no insurance. He worked for Starbucks and was just a young kid starting his life.
Luckily, there were witnesses to the accident; people had been out on their porches enjoying the warm evening. We also had the license plate. You’d think it was a slam-dunk, right? Keep reading.
We found the owner of the car, but it wasn’t “our guy.” It was the father of the man who had been driving the car, but the father explained that he and his son were “estranged” and hadn’t been in contact for years. The license plate was a dead end, but at least we had a name.
Well, it turns out this driver was “off the grid” completely. The address he had given for his driver’s license was a vacant lot and his employment records were sketchy. It seemed like he had disappeared from society.
Then, we got our break. We knew that the driver had worked in bars in the past. One day, during a meeting with a different client who also worked in bars, I asked, “Would you happen to know ______?”
To my astonishment, she said, “Yeah, he works at my bar.”
We immediately got the process server to serve a complaint on him and it turns out that he did have insurance! Also, after the accident (which was nearly a year earlier) this guy had parked his damaged car in a parking structure one block away from the scene of the accident and abandoned it. There was still blood on the front hood from when he hit our client!
We were able to secure policy limits from the driver’s insurance company right away.
But this hit-and-run case is a perfect example of why many personal injury attorneys steer clear of these cases; they are very hard to prove. We were tenacious representatives of our hit-and-run accident victim. We just wouldn’t give up.
Fortunately, Denver law enforcement has taken a significant step in reducing this type of crime. On March 25, 2014, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the Medina Alert system into law for the entire state of Colorado, extending it beyond the initial coverage areas in the cities of Denver and Aurora. The system, which alerts the public about hit-and-run accidents, is the first of its kind in the nation.
According to a Denver Post story about the Medina Alert law, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said that 17 cases of hit-and-run accidents have triggered Medina Alerts since the inception of the system, and 13 of those cases have been solved.
One quick tip: If you are ever hit by a driver who flees the scene, you can use your own car insurance to pay for damages, even if you were walking or biking, because it involves another vehicle.