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Am I Liable if I Hit an Illegally Parked Car? 

September 29, 2023Auto Accident

If a driver was illegally parked in Denver when you hit his or her car, determining who is financially responsible (liable) can be difficult. Numerous factors will need to be considered when determining who is at fault. A portion of fault may be allocated to both drivers, depending on the case. If you need legal assistance with this type of claim in Denver, contact Dormer Harpring for a free consultation with an attorney.

Colorado Is a Fault State

First, you need to know that Colorado is a fault state, also known as a tort-based state. Under this car insurance law, the person or party at fault for causing a crash will be responsible for related medical bills and property damage. All drivers must carry liability insurance to pay for car accidents that they cause. Before a victim can file an insurance claim after a car accident, the at-fault driver or party must be identified.

Who Pays for a Collision Involving an Illegally Parked Car?

In most car accident cases, liability goes to the driver who violated a traffic law or roadway rule at the time of the crash. In an accident involving an illegally parked car, at least a portion of fault will most likely be allocated to the owner of the vehicle for breaking the rules when parking the cars.

While most car accident cases involving a parked car are the fault of the driver of the moving vehicle, illegally parked cars are an exception to the rule. Unlawful parking, such as on the shoulder of a roadway or blocking a driveway, violates the city’s traffic laws. This may interrupt the flow of traffic and force other cars to go around – increasing the risk of accidents.

Since the driver of the illegally parked car broke the law, he or she will most likely be responsible for paying for the accident. However, an insurance company may use the comparative negligence defense to argue that the other driver is also at fault. If a reasonable and prudent driver would have noticed the illegally parked vehicle and avoided the collision, for example, a portion of the fault could go to the other driver.

What Is Colorado’s Shared Fault Law?

Colorado is a modified comparative negligence state. Under this law (Colorado Revised Statute 13-21-111), a plaintiff can be found partially responsible for an accident or injury and still be able to recover financial compensation. However, his or her financial award will be reduced by an amount equal to his or her fault. As long as the victim’s percentage of fault falls below 50 percent, he or she is still eligible for a diminished recovery.

Your Responsibilities After Hitting a Parked Car

If you crash into an illegally parked car in Colorado, preserve your right to collect financial compensation from the other vehicle owner’s insurance provider as much as possible by taking the correct steps after the accident.

First, stop at the scene of the crash and leave your information. You are legally required to try to locate the driver of the illegally parked car. If you cannot, you must leave your contact information on a note and put it in a conspicuous place on the vehicle.

Then, call 911 to report the accident. If the crash appears to have caused serious property damage or if you were injured in the collision, contact law enforcement. After you have gotten medical care for any injuries, call your insurance carrier to report the crash.

Before you file a claim against the other party’s car insurance provider or accept a settlement, contact a Denver car accident attorney at Dormer Harpring for a free case review. We can help you understand and prove liability after an accident involving an illegally parked vehicle.