If you get into a car accident in Colorado, one of the first things that you should do is report the accident. This is true whether the collision is major or minor. Reporting a crash to the police is in your best interests, even if you feel that you are running the risk of receiving a traffic citation for contributing to the accident. A car insurance company can use the police report to determine liability for the collision.
What Are a Driver’s Legal Responsibilities After a Car Accident in Colorado?
Colorado Revised Statute 42-4-1606 gives all drivers in the state a duty to report certain car accidents. Anyone who is involved in a crash involving bodily injuries, serious bodily injuries, deaths or property damage must submit a written report of the accident within 10 days. However, there is an exception if a law enforcement officer responds to the scene of the accident, as he or she will submit a report instead.
You should always call 911 to report a car accident that meets these parameters, as you are legally required to do so. Failing to involve the police when crash reporting is mandatory could lead to significant penalties. Your other legal responsibilities as a driver after a car accident in Colorado are to stop at the scene of the crash, render aid to anyone who has been injured and exchange information with the other driver.
The Benefits of Reporting a Minor Car Accident
Legally, you are not required to report a minor car accident in Colorado. However, injury lawyers agree that crash reporting is an integral part of obtaining full and fair financial compensation for a car accident. There are numerous benefits to reporting a minor car accident, such as:
- Avoiding the risk of the other driver giving you false information to avoid paying for the wreck.
- Protecting yourself from legal trouble if you aren’t sure whether you’re required to report the crash.
- Having a trained investigator collect information and details about the accident for you.
- Allowing an officer to speak to the other driver so that you can avoid a fight or hostility.
- Being looked at by a trained first responder in case your adrenaline is masking an injury.
- Getting all of the information of the other driver, passengers and eyewitnesses involved.
- Obtaining a confession from the other driver as to fault for the wreck.
- Receiving official photographs of the scene of the car accident.
- Having a police officer visit nearby businesses to request surveillance footage for you.
- Obtaining a police officer’s written opinion on the cause of the crash.
- Penalizing the other driver for wrongdoing, such as drunk driving or driving while uninsured.
- Providing evidence against the other driver in the form of a traffic citation or arrest.
- Proving to a car insurance company that the car accident happened.
Notifying the police of a minor car accident in Colorado has more benefits than drawbacks. Do not let the other driver convince you to not involve the police after a minor accident. Explain that you’re more comfortable having a record of the collision for insurance purposes.
What Are the Penalties for Failing to Report a Car Accident in Colorado?
If you don’t report a car accident in Aurora and later discover that it was serious and you legally should have reported it (e.g., if the other driver claims not to be injured but later discovers that he or she has whiplash), it is possible to face penalties for failure to report. Breaking Colorado law by failing to report a car accident within 60 days is a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense. This offense is punishable by a fine of up to $300 and/or 10 to 90 days in jail.
Reporting a minor car accident can serve your best interests in multiple ways. Always call 911 immediately from the scene of a motor vehicle collision in Colorado, even if it appears minor. Then, contact a car accident attorney right away for assistance with the remainder of the claims process.