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What to do After a Car Accident in Denver

Last updated: October 13, 2016

The beautiful sunsets can be a bit distracting. Icy and snowy roads can similarly cause problems. There's much to love about Denver, but driving here isn't always the easiest. As a result, even good drivers have mishaps. You're in luck, however, because a collision in the Mile-High City does not always have to be a catastrophe. FindLaw provides this guide for what to do after a car accident in Denver. But going forward, use caution on our slick roads and gorgeous afternoons.

First Steps

1. Exchange Information

After a collision, both drivers should stop their cars. If no one is injured and both cars can be safely driven, the drivers should immediately move their cars to portion of the side of the road where they would not be blocking traffic. If you or someone else is injured, you are not required to immediately move the vehicle. This may be unsafe; instead, call 9-1-1. Drivers should then exchange names, addresses, and vehicle registration numbers. You must also show your driver license if another driver asks to see it. If an injured person cannot receive your information because of an injury, you must provide it to the police. The State's Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles also instructs you to exchange insurance information.

2. Offer Reasonable Assistance

The law requires you to offer "reasonable assistance." You must either make arrangements for, or offer, a ride to anyone involved in the accident if it appears that he or she needs medical attention. The same goes if the person simply asks for assistance, even if they do not appear to be injured. If you're unsure of where to go, Denver Health Medical Center (Denver General) has a reputable trauma center. It's near Cherry Creek in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood. The address is 777 Bannock St. (303) 436-6000.

3. Report the Accident to the Nearest Law Enforcement

After a car accident in Denver that results in either injury to a person or any amount of property damage, you must report it to the police, including the location of the accident. After doing so, follow the officer's directions, which may involve remaining at the scene. If no one is hurt, call your local Denver Police station. See the police department's web page for a map and district station phone numbers. If you are unsure of which district to call, use the non-emergency help number at (720) 913-2000. You can also report an accident online. If for some reason you are "physically incapable" of reporting the accident, one of your passengers may do so. Remember though you only have to file an accident report if a police officer did not already show up to the scene and take the information.

4. Take Notes

Attorneys recommend that you write down the details that you observe before and after your crash because they might turn out to be significant facts. Write down the answers to these questions:

  • How fast were both cars going?

  • Did you and/or the other driver signal?

  • How much daylight did you have?

  • Did the drivers have their lights on?

  • What were the road and weather conditions?

See FindLaw's resources for additional guidance on your first steps after an accident.

Follow Up: Receive a Copy of the Accident Report

You may need a copy of the government's official accident report if you're ever in a legal dispute due to the collision. You can get a copy of it by sending a written request to either the Regular/Priority mailing address or the Express Mail address listed online. You must include with your written request:

  1. Your name;

  2. Your date of birth;

  3. Your driver license number;

  4. Your signature;

  5. Your mailing address;

  6. The date of the collision;

  7. The city and county of the accident; and

  8. A check for either $2.70 for a certified copy or $2.20 for a non-certified copy (made payable to the Department of Revenue).

Determining Fault

Some drivers will remember that we used to have a "no-fault" system, but Colorado is now a "fault" insurance state. This generally means that only the party whose conduct was negligent, reckless, or intentionally bad will have to pay for any damages. Most car insurance providers tell their clients to never admit fault after an accident. This is because drivers are often not in the best position to know who's truly at fault Instead, let the insurance companies, lawyers, and courts figure out these tough liability questions. If you've been in an accident, it's usually best to call your insurance company immediately. If you do not have insurance, you should contact a Denver-based attorney.

Legal Consequences of an Accident

The above section already hinted at the possibility of an at-fault driver having to pay for damages, but you may face other possible legal consequences.

Receive Compensation

If you were not at fault, you may be entitled to payments for your property damage and injuries that resulted from the collision. Many people in this position find it helpful to consult a personal injury attorney. See FindLaw for more information about personal injury law in Denver.

Criminal Prosecution

In some cases, law enforcement may suspect criminal activity to be the cause of a car accident. This is the case in Colorado when police suspect a driver of driving under the influence (DUI), racing, or some other form of reckless driving. Also, if you fail to stop, exchange information, and provide aid after an accident, you can be charged with a crime. In these cases, you should contact a criminal law attorney.

Free Case Review from a Local Personal Injury Attorney

Getting into a car accident is never at the top of anyone's priority list. Having to deal with insurance companies, medical bills, and having your car or motorcycle repaired is also at the bottom of the list. Knowing what to do after a car accident in Denver is sometimes easier said than done, especially if you need legal representation. You can start the process with a free case review from a Colorado personal injury attorney.