It’s hard to imagine how a driver can cause serious physical injury or death to a pedestrian and not even stop the car to check on the person’s condition. Yet, after nearly 30 years as Denver personal injury attorneys, we know it’s a common phenomenon ― and one that’s increasing at an alarming rate.
As reported in a Denver Post article, area police reported 100 hit-and-run pedestrian cases between Jan. 1 and Aug. 17 of this year ― nearly four times the number of cases over the same period in 2009. More than one in every four auto-pedestrian accidents here is a hit-and-run, compared to a national rate of about one in five.
Just last year the Colorado legislature increased the penalties for hit-and-run cases involving death and serious injury. Convictions can now bring up to six years in prison ― but those convictions are hard to come by.
Case in point: Sixteen-year-old Devondrah “Dee” Bridgeman is struggling to walk and talk again after sustaining severe head trauma in a February 2013 hit-and-run. After waiting 19 hours to turn herself in, the driver claimed she was unaware that she’d hit someone. The judge didn’t believe her, yet her attorneys negotiated a plea deal combining probation and community service. And cases like this are becoming the rule, rather than the exception:
- Since 2008, 461 Colorado drivers have been charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury ― a Class 4 felony that allows for two to six years in prison.
- Sixty-one percent of the cases ― a total of 281 ― were dismissed.
- In the same time period, 80 drivers were charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death.
- Thirty-one of the hit-and-run death cases were eventually dismissed.
Dee Bridgeman’s family already faces more than a million dollars in medical bills. It will be interesting to see if a civil judgment will finally hold the driver accountable.
If you or a loved one has been victimized by a hit-and-run driver, a skilled Denver pedestrian accident attorney can stand up for your rights to justice and fair compensation.