If you’ve experienced a small fender-bender on the road or in a parking lot, it may be tempting to just exchange info with the other driver and call it good, especially if no one seems hurt and the damage is minor. However, this choice could have major consequences for you in the future. You might find yourself unable to seek compensation for damages or injuries you didn’t notice at the time, or you may be on the receiving end of a surprise lawsuit with no third-party input to back up your version of events. Because of these possibilities, you should strongly consider reporting every car accident, no matter how small.
Why is It Important to Report All Car Accidents in Colorado?
Even if it is not strictly required to report a minor car accident to the police in Colorado when the property damage is under $1000 and there are no injuries, it is still highly recommended to make a report. There are several reasons why reporting a car accident could be beneficial for you:
- You or the other drivers involved in the crash may realize later that they actually do have injuries, leading to insurance claims.
- The vehicle damage could be worse than it first appeared, such as a bent chassis or an expensive replacement part.
- If you report the accident to the police, they must generate a police report. This report can be vital to getting a claim approved or proving fault if it becomes necessary later.
- If you don’t file a report and it turns out the accident did involve injuries or damage of over $1000, you may be charged with a hit and run, which is a misdemeanor that can include penalties of up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.
In order to protect yourself from potential future claims or charges and preserve your own ability to file an insurance claim, you should always notify the police of any car accident you are involved in.
What is an Accident Alert and How Can It Impact My Ability to Report My Accident?
During extreme weather, such as major snowstorms, there can be more accidents than the Colorado police can handle. During these times, they may issue an accident alert. If there is an accident alert in place, police will only respond if the accident involves serious injuries, undrivable vehicles, or other significant extenuating circumstances. If you have a minor accident during an accident alert, you should still call 911 to report the incident. They will likely have you come to a police station at a later date or file a report online if they are unable to send an officer to your accident scene.
Should You Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer if You’ve Had a Minor Car Accident?
The bottom line is that it is always better to report an accident and find out that it was overkill for a minor incident than to not report it and find yourself in legal trouble. Some injuries and vehicle damages are not immediately obvious, and you always want to err on the side of protecting yourself. If you’ve had a minor car accident and you later realize that it was more serious than it first seemed, or the other driver is trying to place the fault on you, it’s time to consult with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to learn more about your options.