The State of Colorado requires drivers to report all car accidents, either online in to a police officer in person. While you can fulfill your legal responsibility by reporting an accident online, there are several reasons to call police after a car accident.
The Colorado DMV outlines the requirements for filing an online report, and these rules hint at some of the reasons you may prefer to have a police officer on the scene:
“Note that Colorado’s online accident reporting system has a few requirements. To report online, each of the following must be true:
– There were no fatalities or injuries involved.
– The accident was not a hit and run (you can provide information from the other party involved).
– No public property was damaged.
– There was no suspicion of any party driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.”
While some car accident injuries present obvious and immediate symptoms, others can show up in the days or weeks following an accident. Even if you feel ok at the scene, don’t assume that you have not been injured. When you experience an accident, shock and adrenaline can also mask some injury symptoms in the short-term.
So, while you may legally file a report online, we recommend calling an officer to the scene. A police officer can gather all the facts of the incident and log the details in an official record. The Balance describes it this way:
“If you call the police, they will be able to attest to the reality on the ground: who appears to be injured, what the extent of the damage to each vehicle and the surrounding landscape is, and who appears to be at fault.”
Having that third-party, professional account on record can help you if injury symptoms show up, for you or the other party, sometime after the accident. You or the other party might need medical treatment at a later date. A police report can help confirm that the injuries relate to the car accident.
Do you know with 100 percent certainty that the other driver hasn’t been drinking, smoking marijuana or using other substances? Do you know for a fact that the other party won’t accuse you of driving under the influence?
Recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado, and unfortunately, some drivers get behind the wheel after using it.
Again, calling the police can help establish the facts of the case. The officer will report whether or not either driver appears to be under the influence. He or she may also conduct roadside tests, if there are any doubts.
While you don’t necessarily need a police report to file a claim with an insurance company, the report can help the claims process.
“After a car accident, when a claim is reported, the insurance company will conduct its own investigation. One of the first things that an insurance company will ask for is the police report. This is because…the report contains a vast amount of information pertaining to the car accident, and is therefore a valuable resource for further investigation.”
In some cases, the police will not come to the scene of a car accident. In Colorado, for example, many counties will issue an “accident alert” during snowstorms that result in a high volume of accidents. During an accident alert, the county instructs drivers to exchange information and file an online report in the event of a minor fender-bender.
Without an officer on site, it’s important to write down as many details as possible about the accident. This DMV guide offers a checklist for the details you should gather at the scene.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact us for a free consultation on your case. We represent clients in insurance settlements, personal injury lawsuits and more.
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