If you or somebody you care about has been involved in a vehicle accident, we need to stress the importance of contacting law enforcement and letting them come to the scene and fill out an accident report. However, there are various reasons why individuals involved in a vehicle accident may not call the police. But what happens in the aftermath? Do you still have to report the incident to your insurance carrier, and will they even process the claim without a police report?
When we examine Colorado law (CRS 42-4-1606), we see that just about every type of vehicle accident that occurs on our roadways must be reported to the local police jurisdiction or Colorado Highway Patrol. The law states that drivers in a vehicle accident have a duty to report the incident if the following occurred:
The police do not have to actually write down an accident report for every crash, and they may elect not to investigate an incident if there were no injuries or if property damage does not appear to be more than $1,000. If one or more parties involved cannot show proof of insurance, then the police are required to fill out a report, regardless of the circumstance. Additionally, police do have to fill out a report if you ask them to, even if they would not have otherwise completed the report.
If you fail to report a vehicle accident in Colorado, this could be a criminal offense. Failing to report a vehicle accident is typically considered a Class 2 misdemeanor offense, which carries up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300. If you fail to report a crash that caused an injury, this could be considered a Class 4 felony offense. Failing to report a vehicle accident that caused the death is a Class 3 felony offense. These felony offenses carry much stiffer penalties, including possible time in prison.
In addition to these criminal penalties, failing to report a vehicle accident could result in major issues when it comes to recovering compensation for any property damage or for any injuries you may have sustained. Most commonly, individuals choose not to report a vehicle accident if the crash seems relatively minor and both sides agree to part ways. However, even relatively minor incidents can lead to massive unseen property damage or various types of hidden physical injuries.
If you and the other party have chosen not to report the incident, and you subsequently make an insurance claim for accident injuries, the insurance carrier will likely deny the claim because there is no official report.
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in a vehicle accident, but there is no accident report, we encourage you to reach out to a Denver car accident attorney for help. A lawyer will be able to guide you towards the best path moving forward for your particular situation.