Bad weather can play a major role in a car accident. Rain, snow, and ice create slippery road conditions, making it difficult to control your vehicle. Every year, severe weather in Colorado contributes to thousands of crashes. However, an accident can strike even on a sunny summer's day. After a crash, there are a few basic rules on Colorado car accident reporting you'll need to follow.
How to File a Car Crash Report in Colorado
This chart provides a summary of Colorado laws and procedures for filing a car crash report.
Note: Laws are subject to change. It's important to verify the information you read about by conducting your own research or consulting with a Colorado attorney.
When Does an Accident Need to be Reported?
Involving the police in a minor fender bender may seem an unnecessary step, but in nearly all situations it's required. Colorado law defines a reportable accident as one that:
- Causes any property damage, or
- Results in personal injury or death
Since most car accidents will cause some damage, you'll need to dial 911 after any crash to be on the safe side.
When are Accident Reports Filed by Police?
Although you must notify the police immediately following an accident, officers will not always create a report. Colorado law requires an officer to investigate and file a report only if they have a reasonable basis to believe that any one person's property damage exceeds $1,000, or there is a death or injury. Also, a report will be conducted if one or more of the drivers does not have car insurance.
So it's important to remember that if you want your minor fender bender investigated, you must specifically request the officer at the scene to file a report.
Filing a Personal Accident Report in Colorado
When the police do not investigate an accident, each driver needs to personally submit an accident report with the Department of Revenue within 60 days of the crash. The accident form is available online or at a local police station.
If an accident report is filed online by an individual, the report does not get investigated by a law enforcement agency. The reports are kept for record purposes only. Failing to report an accident is a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense.
Accident Reporting During Severe Weather
Heavy rain, snow and ice can cause a large number of crashes to occur during a short period of time. Colorado had created the term "accident alert" to define the period when weather conditions are so severe that state troopers and police officers are unable to respond to the volume of vehicle crashes. An accident alert is initiated on a geographical basis, in other words some cities may be on accident alert while others are not, depending on how the weather conditions are affecting the area.
You still must call 911 after an accident when an accident alert is in effect, but an officer will only respond if the following circumstances exist:
- Vehicles are disabled due to damage.
- Accident involves a fatality or an injury requiring an ambulance.
- Alcohol or drugs are involved.
- Accident is an alleged hit and run.
- There is damage to public property other than wildlife, i.e. a highway stop sign.
- Any property damage accident in which the reporting party is not or has no contact with the driver(s).
Most car radio stations report which areas are on accident alert. If you are involved in an accident and are not sure if your area is on accident alert, call the police.
Get Help with Reporting a Car Accident in Colorado: Talk to a Lawyer
No matter the circumstances of your accident, dealing with a wreck is easier when you're working with an experienced accident attorney. Whether you were the victim or a primary cause of the accident, your attorney will help protect your rights and get you back on the road. Learn how Colorado law applies to the facts of your claim by speaking to a local car accident attorney today.