When and How to File a Car Accident Report In Colorado

Jan 10, 2021 | Car Accidents

Drivers love shortcuts. But sometimes what seemed like the quick and easy route turns out to be a lot more time-consuming and costly than you expected.

The same can be said about the way some people handle car accidents.

Consider this situation: A driver in a hurry gets into a minor scrape with another vehicle in heavy traffic; the motorists exchange contact information and decide, since nobody is hurt, not to waste any more time filing an accident report.

It happens all the time, but it’s often the wrong move. There are several compelling reasons to file an accident report for any kind of collision, no matter how minor.

Here are some guidelines about when to file, why to file, and how.


In many crashes, the answer is obvious. If someone is injured, if one of the drivers appears to be intoxicated or flees the scene, contacting the police is essential.

But even in the “just a scratch” scenario, it’s generally a good idea to file a report. Why?

  • The damage to your car may be worse than it appears at first glance.
  • The injuries to you or the people inside the car may be more serious. You may not notice specific symptoms or injuries for a few days or even weeks.
  • Filing a report creates a record of events that may prove to be important down the line in determining who’s at fault. The other party may admit fault to you right after the accident but change his or her mind later. Worse if he or she makes false claims about the car accident.
  • Insurance companies are going to want an accident report in order to process any claim.
  • And the most important reason of all: It’s the law.

Involving an auto accident attorney in Colorado can provide valuable legal guidance and ensure your rights are protected throughout the car accident process.


Colorado law requires that accidents must be reported if they result in personal injury or death or cause any property damage. There’s no minimal amount of damage, other than none, that would fail to trigger that requirement. To fail to report is a Class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense.


Simply calling 911 does NOT automatically trigger a full police investigation of the circumstances of the accident.

The police will investigate and file a report only if there has been a death or injury, individual property damage exceeds $1000, or one of the drivers fails to produce proof of insurance.

Otherwise, if you want the accident investigated, you must ask the officer at the scene to file a report.

For really minor traffic incidents, there is an alternative to a police report.

A driver can submit an accident report online with the Colorado Department of Revenue. Such an option should be exercised only if no police officer was called to the scene, and must be done within 60 days of the crash. The online reports are for record purposes only and will not generate any investigation.


Colorado’s unpredictable winter weather can lead to “accident alerts,” when police agencies are so overwhelmed with crash reports that they can’t personally respond to all the calls. If you’re in an area that has an alert in effect and you happen to get into an accident, you should report it by calling 911 — but you may have to go to a police station later to fill out the paperwork. During alerts, officers are only required to respond in the event of serious injury, hit-and-run, disabled vehicles, and accidents involving alcohol or drugs or damage to public property.


For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Greeley, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the attorneys at FDAzar day or night at (800) 716-9032 or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.