Colorado had 685 fatal car accidents in 2022, the highest number recorded between 2002 and 2022. That same year, 47 people died in fatal crashes during significant holidays, including New Year’s, Christmas, and Independence Day.

In addition to fatal car crashes, there are thousands of accidents involving severe or minor injuries, as well as accidents that only involve property damage. Accidents should be reported when someone is killed or severely injured, but what about minor accidents? 

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Home » Should You Report a Minor Car Accident?

Should you report a minor car accident to the police? An experienced team of Denver car accident attorneys encourages everyone to report an accident. Here’s what you should know about whether to report a minor car accident in Colorado.

Should You Report a Minor Car Accident in Colorado?

Colorado law 42-4-1606 requires you to make an “immediate” report of any car accident. The law requires you to report any accident that causes injury or property damage. Of course, every accident involves one or the other. The law even clarifies that you have to make a report for any injury, serious bodily injury, death, or property damage. You must make the report to the nearest police agency.

Colorado car accident reporting laws

Colorado law 42-4-1606 requires you to make an “immediate” report of any car accident. The law requires you to report any accident that causes injury or property damage. Of course, every accident involves one or the other. The law even clarifies that you have to make a report for any injury, serious bodily injury, death, or property damage. You must make a report to the nearest police agency.

Today, most people use their cell phone to report a car accident. However, it’s legal to briefly leave the scene of the crash if you have to to make the report. You must make the report in the most immediate way possible. If you leave the scene to make a report, you must return to wait for the police and exchange information with the other driver.

Do the Police Have to Write an Accident Report for Every Colorado Car Accident?

No, the police don’t have to make an accident report for every Colorado car accident case. They may decline to make a report if there are no injuries and the damages don’t appear to be more than $1,000. The police must make a report if one of the parties can’t show proof of insurance.

Colorado Car Accident

If your accident doesn’t meet the criteria for the police to have to write a report, they must still write a report if you ask them to. Of course, just because the police don’t have to write a report doesn’t relieve you of your duty to report the accident.

Penalties for not reporting a car accident

Failing to report a car accident in Colorado is a class two misdemeanor traffic offense. You may spend up to 90 days in jail and pay a fine of up to $300. If you fail to report an accident and someone is injured, your offense is a more serious class one misdemeanor offense. If the injury is severe, you may face a class four felony. If someone dies and you fail to report the accident, you may face class three felony charges.

Failing to report a car accident can have personal consequences if it jeopardizes your compensation claim. You may suffer financial, physical, and emotional challenges after your accident. Your accident report can help build a legal case against the at-fault driver.

Should I report a minor car accident to my insurance company?

Report any accident, including one involving minor damage, to your insurance company.

Filing a claim

Do you plan to file an insurance claim? Insurance claims allow you to pay to repair or replace your vehicle without paying out of pocket. Your insurance claim may also cover the cost of repairing or replacing any other property that was damaged in the accident.

Protecting your legal rights 

Suppose there’s a dispute over who was at fault for the accident. At-fault states require the driver responsible for the accident to pay for accident-related costs. Since insurance premiums often rise after a claim, many drivers try to deny or split responsibility to reduce their liability. You should notify your insurance company immediately so they’re aware if another driver tries to claim you were responsible for the accident. Your insurance company will help protect you from false claims if you aren’t at fault.

Make informed decisions 

Your insurance company is there to answer your questions. Discussing your accident ensures you understand whether filing a claim will cause your premiums to increase. You’ll also pay a deductible fee. Comparing these expenses to the cost of the repairs can help you determine whether to pay for the repairs yourself or proceed with your insurance claim.

Is It a Good Idea to Report a Minor Accident?

There are many reasons that it’s a good idea to report a minor accident. Even though it’s necessary just to comply with the law, there are lots of ways that reporting an accident can help you:

  • The police gather evidence of who is at fault for the accident
  • With training in accident investigations, the police may know to look for things, ask questions, and gather evidence that you may not think about
  • Police officers are trained first responders that can ensure that you don’t have any car accident injuries that need medical attention
  • What the other party says may be admissible in court. If they make these statements to you, a jury may not find your testimony about them as credible as if they make the statements to the police officer.
  • The police have training in drunk driving investigations. If the other party shows signs of intoxication, the police can conduct a formal investigation.
  • It can be awkward to approach the other side after an accident, especially if they’re hostile. The police can help.
  • Reporting the accident notes the date and time of the accident

Benefits of Reporting a Minor Accident in Colorado

Reporting a minor accident in Colorado is important because Colorado is an at-fault state. You may decide to make a legal claim for compensation after even a minor accident like a rear-end collision. It’s essential to gather all of the evidence that you can including establishing that the accident occurred at a specific date and time.

In Colorado, it’s always a good idea to report a car accident to comply with the law and preserve and further your claim for financial compensation. Making a report can be especially helpful in more complex cases like an Uber or Lyft accident or crashes in a company car.

Who to call for a minor accident 

Car accidents are stressful, and you may need clarification about the steps to take. Fortunately, there is a simple way to report a minor car accident. 

Do you call 911?

The easiest way to report your accident is to dial 911. Make sure you pull over before placing your call. You should not manually dial a number while driving or talk on a phone while operating a vehicle if you don’t have headphones.

Will the police show up to a minor accident?

The police usually respond if you report an accident in Colorado. However, the police may make exceptions in some situations, such as during severe weather events. Extreme weather can cause multiple crashes, and police may not be able to respond to all accident scenes. In these situations, the police may tell you to come to the police station later to give them the accident information or give you the option of filing an accident report online.

What do I do if the police don’t respond?

If the police don’t respond to your accident, you can submit your own report through the Colorado Department of Revenue Division of Motor Vehicles. You have 60 days from the date of the crash to make your report. The report doesn’t trigger a police investigation, but it documents the fact that an accident occurred for your benefit and statistical purposes.

What to do after a minor car accident

Take appropriate steps after a car accident for your legal and financial protection.

Assess yourself 

Determine if you have any physical injuries. Internal injuries, like bruised organs or hairline fractures, may not be immediately evident. Whiplash symptoms may not emerge for a day or more. Therefore, even if you think you’re okay at the scene, seeing a doctor after your accident is a good idea.

Assess your property

Check your vehicle for property damage. Take photos or videos of property damage to any vehicles involved in the accident.

Exchange information

The parties involved should supply each other with the following information:

  • Driver’s license number
  • Full name
  • Insurance information 
  • License plate number
  • Phone numbers 

Report the accident 

Notify the authorities about your car accident. Follow the reporting laws to avoid legal issues. 

Talk to a lawyer

A car accident lawyer is your ally after an accident. Call a car accident attorney for a free consultation to ensure you don’t make any missteps. Hiring a lawyer is crucial if you plan to fight for compensation. A lawyer can determine if you could qualify to receive compensation. The at-fault driver’s insurance company could provide reimbursement for accident-related expenses such as lost wages, vehicle repairs, and medical bills. Your lawyer may also seek compensation for pain and suffering.

What not to do after a minor car accident

Missteps occur when people in accidents forfeit their legal rights, say or do inappropriate things, or fail to act appropriately. The following are things you shouldn’t do after an accident:

  • Accept blame: Contact the police and let them assess the scene and determine fault. You may not be thinking clearly if you’re in shock. It’s also possible that you won’t have all the evidence required to understand what happened, even if you were in the accident. The police can determine if a driver was intoxicated or if there were mechanical defects or operator errors.
  • Agree to a settlement: Talk to an attorney and medical professionals before agreeing to any financial settlement. Suppose your accident causes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but you didn’t realize this before you agreed to a settlement. Your agreement may prevent you from receiving compensation for therapy and related expenses. 
  • Fail to document scene: You can protect yourself from false allegations and strengthen a potential legal case with pictures and videos of the scene, getting contact information for witnesses, and noting any potentially relevant factors. For example, if you noticed the other driver drifting in and out of your lane before the accident, that could indicate they’re driving under the influence and should be reported to the police.
  • Get angry: Car accidents can be upsetting, but you may say or do things that complicate the accident investigation if you get angry. Stay calm and, if necessary, keep your distance from the other driver if they’re causing you distress.
  • Refuse to exchange information: You’re required to exchange information after an accident. If you feel threatened or unable to do so, the police can assist you when they arrive. 
  • Talk to the other driver’s insurance company: Discuss the accident with the police and your attorney. Without legal representation, you shouldn’t talk to the other party’s insurance company.
  • Walk away: Remain at the scene until the police arrive or emergency services tell you you can leave.

How to report a minor car accident

The easiest way to report a minor car accident involves dialing 911. You won’t have to worry about looking up non-emergency phone numbers. The 911 operator can send all the emergency personnel required to the scene, so you won’t have to make separate calls to the police and paramedics.

Although dialing 911 is the simplest way to report an accident, you can call a non-emergency line. If you’re in a minor accident, you may call the non-emergency line if 911 lines are busy. Look up the non-emergency police number for the city or county where your accident occurred.

Colorado’s Division of Motor Vehicles provides an online reporting form you can use to report your accident. You must report your accident within 60 days to avoid penalties.

You also have the option of mailing an accident report to the police. Pull up the online reporting form, print a copy, and complete the form. Mail the report to the appropriate police station to fulfill your reporting obligations.

Should I get a lawyer for a minor car accident?

It’s natural to wonder if you should get a lawyer for a minor car accident. You may not think the accident is severe enough to warrant potential legal action.

No matter what you think about the accident’s severity, other parties involved could decide to take legal action, even if they’re at fault. Hiring a car accident attorney ensures the following:

  • You know your rights
  • You understand your options
  • You understand the financial implications of a lawsuit
  • You understand the consequences of forfeiting your rights
  • You understand how another driver’s claim against your insurance will affect you
  • You have a legal representative to talk to the other driver’s insurance company
  • You don’t have to negotiate an agreement

There are also other practical reasons to turn to a car accident attorney. The statute of limitations in Colorado prevents you from taking legal action if it’s more than three years since your accident. Courts also have procedural laws and requirements you must follow. Learning how to prepare a legal case can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Contact our car accident lawyers today! We’ll file your case before the statute of limitations expires and build a compelling case to get you fair compensation.

Why Bachus & Schanker?

Car Accident Attorney

Bachus & Schanker provides expert legal services to people dealing with life-changing situations, including minor car accidents. We’ll help you deal with your accident and explain your legal options. 

We have a victim’s advocate group to help you after your accident. We work with our victim’s advocate group to investigate the accident and ensure we have all the facts needed to prepare your case. Since our victim’s advocates are former legal professionals, such as judges and police officers, they understand the legal process. Our advocates can answer your questions and explain what to expect as your case progresses. With our attorneys and victim’s advocate group by your side, you’ll have legal and personal support to help you cope with your accident’s aftermath.

We are conveniently located at five Colorado locations near you in Denver, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, Aurora, and Englewood. Our attorneys are ready to serve you and fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

Related car accident resources

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Bieber, C. (2023). PTSD From a Car Accident: Everything You Need to Know.

Colorado Historical Fatal Crash Trends – Updated 5/1/2023. (2023). 

Distracted Driving and Cell Phone Use. (2023). 

Do auto insurance premiums go up after a claim? (2023). 

Goguen, D. (2023). Is Pain and Suffering Awarded After a “Minor” Car Accident?

Penalties for Speeding Violations. (2023). 

Report an Accident. (2023). 

Rivelli, E. (2022). At-fault vs. no fault accidents.

2007-2023 Holiday Fatalities. (2023). 

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