Filing an Auto Accident Report

If you are ever involved in an auto accident, it’s crucial to be prepared to act responsibly and in line with state law. No matter the severity of the accident, or who was the at-fault driver, filing a police report can protect you.

Colorado requires all auto accidents to be reported immediately. Call the police after the accident, and be prepared to give a statement of what happened. If a police officer isn’t involved, report the accident using the forms provided by the Colorado DMV or the online crash report provided by the Colorado State Patrol. Sometimes, police will show up at the scene of the accident, and other times they will not. It’s useful to prepare for both of these circumstances prior to getting in an auto accident.

An Official Police Report

What does a police report look like?

An official police report is created by the responding police officer who was sent to the accident scene. This police accident report is a summary of information about the collision, containing both facts related to the accident and the investigating officer’s opinions about what happened.

It’s a police procedure after a car accident to record the date, time and location of the collision, contact information for all parties involved, information for witnesses, vehicle damage, weather, roadway and lighting conditions at the scene, statements from the involved parties and witnesses, necessary citations and his/her opinion about the cause of the collision.

If you are able, collect a business card from the responding officer – if you ever need to access the car accident police report after the accident, call the phone number on the business card.

An Unofficial Police Report

Can I file a police report after an accident?

There are many car accidents each day, and there are limited police officers available. So, when a police officer is not dispatched to the scene of the accident, one or more parties involved in the accident create an unofficial report. Police will show up at the scene of an accident if there are fatalities or major injuries, if there was a hit and run, if public property was damaged or if any party was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

When filing an unofficial police report, include everything that a police officer would, record witness statements and contact information, record a personal written statement of what happened, record any injuries and take pictures of the accident and damaged vehicles.

After an Accident

After an accident, stop and make sure everyone involved is not injured. If anyone is severely injured, call an ambulance right away. Never leave the scene of the accident. Pull off of the road and be aware of passing traffic and any other potential dangers. Do not panic.

If you hit an unattended vehicle, it is required that you make an effort to locate the owner of the vehicle, but if you cannot find the owner, leave a note including your name, contact information and a brief description of what happened.

How long after a car accident can you file a claim? Right away! And unless you are arrested after the accident, the police report will not show up on your record.

Why is a Police Report Important?

When thinking about the importance of a police report, remember that an official, third-party report is always going to be seen as more substantial and trustworthy than the opinion and stories of either of the involved parties. A police report is important to have in order to establish the facts and circumstances of the accident. No matter the severity of the accident, major or minor, a police report can protect you from the other party coming after you with unfounded claims related to the accident.

What do I do if the police report is wrong? You can dispute a police report, but the officer will only alter the report if he or she is provided with strong evidence that the report information is false.

If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney may be able to help you cover medical expenses, lost wages and damage to your vehicle. A police report could help strengthen your case.

At McDivitt Law Firm we have a team of Colorado auto accident attorneys, case managers and support staff who are ready to answer questions about your accident. We’re available 24/7, call us right now toll free at (877) 846-4878 for a free initial consultation form.


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