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Should You File a Police Report After a Minor Accident in CO?

No driver ever expects to get involved in a car accident. With the number of collisions that take place annually in Colorado, however, getting into a crash is more likely a question of when, not if. If you get into a minor car accident in Colorado, find out when it is in your best interests to report the crash to the police.

When Is it Mandatory to Report a Car Accident in Colorado?

All drivers in Colorado are legally required to report accidents resulting in bodily injury to, serious bodily injury to, or death of any person, or damage to property (Colorado Revised Statutes, Section 42-4-1606). State law also requires the reporting of accidents involving a driver who cannot show proof of insurance, regardless of crash severity.

Filing a report means either contacting the police from the scene of the accident by calling 911 or, if the police do not file a report, submitting a crash report online to the Colorado Department of Revenue yourself. This self-report is for record-keeping purposes only; it will not be submitted to or investigated by a law enforcement agency.

How Long Do You Have to Report an Accident in Colorado?

State law says that the driver of a vehicle who is involved in a car accident with bodily injuries, deaths or property damage must file a report with the proper department within 10 days. The only exception is if law enforcement officers have already submitted a report regarding the accident after investigating the crash at the scene or thereafter.

If police officers come to the scene of your car accident in Colorado, ask if they will be submitting a report on your behalf. If so, they must do so within five days of completing their investigation. If a law enforcement officer does not file a crash report, you are responsible for doing so within 10 days after the accident, or 60 days for a minor crash with no injuries.

Why You Should Always Report an Accident in Colorado

Colorado law does not require a police report for minor accidents. State law describes these collisions as involving damage to the property of any one person that does not exceed $1,000, as well as no injury to or death of any person. However, as a driver who has been involved in a car accident, it can benefit you to report the crash to local law enforcement and file a report – even if it is a minor collision.

If you sustained any losses, such as minor property damage, filing a report can improve the strength of your insurance claim. In Colorado, the “at-fault” insurance law requires a crash victim to prove that another driver was at fault to be eligible for third-party insurance benefits. A police report can be a key piece of evidence to support a car insurance claim.

What Information Does a Police Report Contain?

A police report can contain essential information about a car accident. An insurance company can use this information to investigate the crash, determine fault and decide if you are eligible for financial benefits as a claimant. In addition, filing a report ensures you meet the legal reporting requirements in Colorado, which can keep you out of legal trouble.

The information on a police report often includes:

  • The time, date and location of the crash
  • The names of all drivers and passengers involved
  • The names and phone numbers of eyewitnesses
  • The speeds and directions both vehicles were traveling
  • A diagram of the collision
  • Descriptions of injuries and vehicle damage
  • Official crash scene photographs
  • Any traffic infractions committed by either driver
  • Police officer observations and an opinion of fault

If you do not file a report, on the other hand, a car insurance company may be able to argue whether the accident ever happened, happened the way that you say it did or caused the damages you are claiming. You will not have an official accident report showing evidence to support your claim. This is why it is important to always call the police and report a car accident in Colorado, even if it is minor.