As Colorado grows, it feels like every city and neighborhood in our state is facing increased traffic and increasingly dangerous car accidents. Recently, I received a call from a woman who was in an Arvada car accident. Thankfully she wasn’t hurt, though she does need an Arvada personal injury attorney because the other driver was clearly at fault. (He took a left turn out in front of her at Indiana Street and 64thAvenue. If you follow my blog at all, you know that left-hand turns are the most common type of accident we hear about.)
Sadly, hit-and-run accidents are hitting epidemic numbers in our state. My personal opinion is that our growing population of drivers are underinsured or uninsured. So, when these drivers hit another car or – tragically – a person, they flee. Just last year, there was a hit-and-run accident in Arvada and the Arvada Police had to ask for help catching the criminal in their social media channels. It happened on June 8, 2018 when a light-colored SUV hit and seriously injured a female pedestrian at West 64thAve and Lamar Street.
This person had hit the bicyclist so hard that his license plate came off.
Hit and Runs Require Work
Hit-and-run accidents are frequently ignored by other personal injury attorneys because they seem like “too much work,” but I want to tell you about a hit-and-run case that we handled involving a bicycle and a car. Our client was riding his bike home from work late one night and, as he was riding through the streets of Olde Town Arvada, he was hit from behind by a car driver who then fled the scene.
By chance, there happened to be witnesses on the street. Our client was so badly hurt that he really had no recollection of his accident but the witnesses discovered that the license plate had actually fallen off the car!
Think about that a moment: this person had hit the bicyclist so hard that his license plate came off.
Police: License Plate Not Enough to Arrest
This negligent driver fled the scene and the police were called to do an investigation. You’d think this would be a slam-dunk investigation with the criminal’s license plate left at the scene, right? However, based on the license plate, the police checked several different address locations but were unable to locate the defendant driver. So, it was a classic hit-and-run case.
The bicyclist came to The O’Sullivan Law Firm and asked us to help him find the defendant so that he could get his medical expenses reimbursed. This poor guy was facing tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills for a serious leg injury and other injuries to his body. Not only was he worried about continuing the care that he needed to heal, but he was already facing bills he couldn’t pay. This accident, which occurred through no fault of his own, was ruining his life.
Of course, we wanted to help him. The first thing we did was to contact the police including the detectives who were continuing to investigate the hit-and-run. We sought some basic information about who they thought the defendant was. We learned that the suspect “lived off the grid,” so to speak. He gave fake addresses for his driver’s license and other addresses.
The police were hitting wall after wall in the case
The police were hitting wall after wall in the case and, ultimately, put the case on the back-burner. But I was not about to let this bicyclist suffer without digging a little more myself.
A Hidden Life
This guy had worked really hard to create a hidden life and, to my intense frustration, it was paying off for him. He hit an innocent biker, causing major physical harm, and sped off to continue his secret life as though nothing had happened. How could he live with himself?
The police were hitting wall after wall in the case and, ultimately, put the case on the back-burner. No judgment against the police here. They are understaffed as it is. I get it. But I was not about to let this bicyclist suffer without digging a little more myself.
Up to this point, no one had been able to locate the car that hit my client. Police couldn’t find it on the streets anywhere. So, The O’Sullivan Law Firm hired a couple of private investigators and asked them to find out as much as possible about the driver: where he last worked, what his last known address was, etc. Not surprisingly, most of those addresses were bogus. In fact, one of them led us to an empty vacant lot. That’s how badly this guy didn’t want to be found!
One Year Later: A Break!
After a year of searching, the police found the car that hit the bicyclist. The driver had ditched it in a parking garage not far from the accident and it had been there the entire time! And it still had my client’s blood on it.
And yet, after two solid years of investigating, we were starting to lose hope. We had hired different private investigators over the months that passed and still came up empty-handed. At one point, we thought we found him working in a restaurant in Denver. We sent out a private investigator to try to locate him there and he had already quit.
Finally, we hired a new private investigator to help us and it paid off. Thanks to this investigator’s own contacts and boots-on-the-ground hard work, we located the driver! He was working at a restaurant in Englewood. We immediately contacted the police. Additionally, we were finally able to file legal papers and a complaint against the driver so that we could bring him to court. Most shocking to me: we discovered that this hit-and-run driver did actually have auto insurance on his car at the time of the accident!
We were able to secure full compensation for our client and we also helped to assure that the driver was prosecuted through the criminal system, as well.
There were so many times over the course of this case that we could have given up and told our client that he would never receive justice. But, honestly, I personally couldn’t stand that a hit-and-run driver was out there living his life like nothing happened that night.
If you need an Arvada personal injury attorney who will work this hard for you, then please call or text The O’Sullivan Law Firm today. 303-388-5304
Medina Alert Program
Did you know that Colorado has an alert system for hit-and-run accidents? It works similarly to the AMBER Alert system for missing people. The hit-and-run system is called the Medina Alert Program and it was signed into Colorado law on March 25, 2014.
The program is named after Jose Medina, a 21-year-old valet driver who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2011. A taxi driver witnessed the event, followed the driver and provided the license plate number to police which led to the capture and arrest of the suspect. That driver was sentenced to the maximum penalty of 12 years for a hit-and-run resulting in death.
If you witness a hit-and-run, call the police immediately. The Medina Alert program sends notifications to patrol officers, cab drivers and truck drivers to be on the lookout for a hit-and-run vehicle.