Almost everyone eventually gets into a car accident. Over a typical driving lifetime, you can actually expect to be in at least three or four crashes, according to one insurance industry estimate*. Most of these accidents are relatively minor ones. A “fender bender,” for instance, typically results in no injuries and only minimal damage to the cars involved in it.
Do I Need To Call Police After a Minor Accident?
Many people wonder whether an accident can be so minor that it doesn’t require them to call the police and report it. As a general rule, we would say that no crash falls into that category. In order to protect your rights, our team at The Sawaya Law Firm believes that you should always call the police to the scene. After all, what may seem to be a minor accident at first could end up resulting in serious injuries and property damages.
What Are the Legal Requirements for Reporting Car Accidents in Colorado?
Under Colorado law, you must call police to a car accident scene if:
- Anyone involved is injured or dies.
- Public property is damaged such as a guardrail.
- A driver leaves the scene (a hit-and-run accident).
- A driver involved in the crash appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
You do not have to call police for other car accidents. Still, you must report the accident. You can easily make a report by using Colorado’s Online Crash Reporting System. A law enforcement agency will not investigate a crash that a person reports online.
A police officer who responds to a car accident may not file a report if no one suffers injury, and the officer thinks the value of property damage does not exceed $1,000. However, the officer must report the crash if a driver requests it, or if either driver cannot show proof of auto insurance.
At The Sawaya Law Firm, we suggest that you call the police after any motor vehicle accident and ask the responding officer to file a report if it appears that the officer does not plan to file one. A police report on file gives you an official third-party report about the accident. If you file a claim, or if another driver files a claim against you, the report will prove to be highly beneficial.
Colorado Police and Weather-Related Accident Alerts
During inclement weather, local and state police in Colorado may issue an “Accident Alert.” The alert advises the public that the volume of car crashes makes them unable to respond to every accident. This is a local declaration. So, area radio stations should announce it.
During an Accident Alert, state troopers and/or police will respond to car accidents only if:
- Anyone involved is injured and requires medical attention or dies.
- Public property such as a guardrail sustains damage.
- A vehicle is disabled (and cannot be moved from the roadway).
- A driver leaves the scene (a hit-and-run accident).
- A driver involved in the wreck appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Since you cannot call police during an alert, you should be sure to exchange driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance information with the other driver and file a report online as soon as possible. If you cannot report an accident to the police, you should take photos of the cars involved in the crash. As soon as you can, you should also write down (or record audio of) your explanation of what happened.
Police Reports Can Play an Important Role in Your Accident Claim
You should also report an accident of any size or significance to your insurance company as soon as you can. The report will not affect your premium unless you file a claim. Still, if you file a claim, or the other driver files a claim against you, having a police report as well as notification to your insurer on file will help to protect you.
A police report represents an independent assessment of the accident and provides crucial information about all of the parties who were involved in the incident. An insurance company – and your lawyer – will want to review the police report as they assess your claim.
Here are two other reasons why it will benefit you to have a police report of your accident:
- Not all vehicle damage is apparent right away. It is not unusual to drive away from a crash and then, one or two days later, notice that your car is having mechanical problems. You may need to file a property damage claim.
- Not all personal injuries are immediately apparent, either. We advise all car accident victims to see a doctor right away if they have been involved in any type of collision. In reality, many people suffer injuries with symptoms that do not appear until several hours or days have passed. Some of signs that you should look for after a crash are:
- Headaches, fatigue or sluggishness – These could be signs of a head injury such as a concussion or more serious form of traumatic brain injury (TBI).
- Neck pain – This could indicate that you have whiplash, pinched nerves or cervical spine injury.
- Abdominal pain – You may suffer from organ damage and/or internal bleeding.
- Back pain – You have may ruptured a disc or suffered fractured vertebrae.
- Numbness – Nerve damage, a ruptured disc and/or spinal cord injury may have occurred in your crash.
If someone else caused your car accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for all costs related to your injuries, vehicle damage expenses and more. If you were injured, no health care expenses should come out of your pocket if someone else was at fault.
Get Help from an Experienced Colorado Car Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, you make a potentially costly mistake if you fail to call the police and get a police report on file. You also make a critical error if you fail to get legal help right away.
The Sawaya Law Firm has helped injured people throughout Colorado for more than 35 years. Our car accident lawyers can work with you to seek the compensation you deserve after a crash occurs. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn more about how our skilled and dedicated legal team can help you.