An Accident Report Is a Good Place to Start
In nearly all Colorado auto accidents, one of the most important challenges is proving who was at fault for the crash. While responsibility may seem quite obvious to the parties involved, determining fault is typically not as easy as it sounds. Strong arguments regarding liability often need to be made, and an accident report is usually a good place to start.
Colorado law requires that all auto accidents resulting in injury be reported to authorities immediately, although law enforcement personnel do not come to the scene of every accident. If they do, they will generate an official accident report that lists the parties involved, insurance coverage, injuries sustained, weather and road conditions, a description of the accident, and an assessment of fault.
Accident reports often contain valuable evidence regarding liability, including the officer’s opinions, observations, citations of laws that may have been violated, and any actions that were taken by law enforcement, specifically whether or not a citation was issued. To get a copy of the accident report, you’ll need to complete a form, pay a fee, and allow the Colorado Department of Transportation at least 90 days to send you the report.
Filing Your Accident Report Online
There are times when the police do not come to the scene of an auto accident, such as when the accident does not meet the criteria for a response or during an “accident alert,” when the weather conditions are considered so severe that Colorado law enforcement personnel are unable to respond to the large volume of crashes. If a police officer doesn’t come to the scene of the accident, under Colorado law, parties are permitted to file an accident report online as long as:
- No fatalities occurred.
- No injury requiring medical attention was sustained.
- The accident was not a hit-and-run.
- None of the parties involved were suspected to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- None of the drivers has insurance or driver’s license violations.
- No damage was done to public property.
Amending Errors on an Accident Report
If there is a mistake in an accident report, it can be amended. By contacting the police and submitting proof, you can usually fix a factual error such as an incorrect vehicle, license plate number, or insurance information. But a disputed fact, such as a determination of fault, is usually much more challenging. The Colorado DOT keeps accident information for seven years.
If you have documents or photos that plainly show that the investigating officer made an error on a disputed matter in the accident report, you can contact the investigating law enforcement office and send your documentation to the supervisor, clearly explaining what you believe the mistake is, describing how your documentation shows that an error was made, and requesting that a revised report be issued.
A police report can be one of the most important pieces of evidence you present to an insurance company and sometimes can turn a determination of liability in your favor. If the report says liability rests at least partially with you, it is difficult but not impossible to overcome a determination of fault, and you should consult with an experienced Colorado personal injury attorney to help build your case.