Know When You Need to File a Police Report
In Colorado, almost every vehicle collision must be reported to the police. A law enforcement officer will typically come to the scene, gather evidence, call in medical services if necessary, and file a report on what happened.
You may think a minor accident is no big deal and there is no reason to involve the police, but not all injuries show up right away, and it’s important to document the facts. Once law enforcement arrives, they might talk to you and take a statement, and knowing what to say can help you in the long run.
You can lose out on potential compensation if you say the wrong thing to a police officer.
When Is It Necessary to Call the Cops After a Crash?
You are required, by Colorado state law, to notify the police of a crash when there is any property damage or anyone is injured or killed. There is no minimum value on the property damage that must be reported.
You must remain at the scene until a police officer arrives, and the officer may or may not interview you about the incident.
What Should I Say to the Police?
When you are asked questions by a police officer at the scene of an accident, you should answer those questions honestly.
Lying to a police officer or attempting to mislead them about something that happened can have serious legal consequences.
So always answer questions honestly, but keep your answers short.
Do not ever admit guilt or say an accident was your fault. The scene is still under investigation, and you don’t know what other factors contributed to the crash, or what the other driver was doing. A police officer can only include things in a report that he or she sees or hears directly. The police can provide information about evidence on the scene, but cannot say who caused the collision if they did not see it. If you tell an officer that you caused an accident, however, then he can repeat that and include it in his report.
Will the Police Officer File an Accident Report?
In Colorado, police officers usually file a crash report if there is property damage in excess of $1,000 or someone was injured or killed. A report will be filed if one or more drivers involved did not have car insurance, but otherwise, the officer might not bother to make and file a report.
In this case, you should file a personal accident report with the Department of Revenue within 60 days of the crash to make sure there is an official record of what happened.
How Can a Police Report Help Me?
If you file a personal injury claim against the driver who caused your collision, the information in a police report can be used to help your case. If the officer noticed the other driver seemed intoxicated, or issued a citation for excessive speeding, it goes a long way to prove that driver’s negligence.
A police report can also be helpful if the other driver admitted to fault for the collision at the scene, and changed his story later during a civil proceeding.
What About Accident Alerts?
Due to severe weather in Colorado, sometimes an “accident alert” will be issued for a certain area. During this time, police must still be called after an accident, but will not come to the scene unless certain requirements are met.
In general, police will only come to a crash during an accident alert if:
- Someone is seriously or fatally injured,
- Alcohol or drug use is involved,
- Vehicles are disabled and need to be moved,
- There is a hit-and-run, and
- Public property is damaged.
Regardless, you should always contact the police after a crash. A police report can help your lawsuit, but it is important that you do not say anything that can be used against you later.