Fender benders can happen to anyone, especially during the bumper-to-bumper commute to downtown Colorado Springs from the 'burbs. Imagine you're trudging along I-25, already late to work, when the tourist behind you runs right into your rear bumper after gazing at Pike's Peak for too long. Luckily it wasn't an RV, which could have crushed your little car, but the accident caused some damage and gave you a sore back. You're shaken up, but not seriously injured. Now you need to know what to do after a car accident in Colorado Springs.
This article provides practical advice for what to do when you are involved in a car accident in The Springs. See FindLaw's Car Accidents section for additional articles and resources.
Stop and Assess Your Surroundings
The first thing you need to do is stop your car and put it into park, if possible. Colorado law requires that for any car accident involving property damage, injury, or death, you must stop your car as close as possible to the scene of the accident. If you are the responsible party -- in other words, if you were the tourist gazing at the mountains before plowing into the car in front of you -- failure to stop after an accident could be interpreted as a hit-and-run (a felony in Colorado).
One exception is if you are in a deserted or unsafe area of Colorado Springs, where you suspect you may be robbed or attacked after being bumped. If that is the case, drive to the nearest police station. In any event, consider lighting flares or otherwise marking your presence if the cars are blocking the flow of traffic and cannot safely be moved.
Then, check to see if there are any injured parties at the scene needing reasonable assistance (meaning it doesn't require medical expertise). This may include calling an ambulance or moving the injured person to the side of the road. Dial 911 for emergencies or check Colorado Springs' list of non-emergency response numbers.
You should consider taking notes about the incident, including injuries, road conditions, or any other factors that may have led up to the collision. Never admit wrongdoing to the other party, but be honest in your reporting. Find eyewitnesses and get their contact information, if available.
One of the most important things you'll need to do after a car accident in Colorado Springs (or really anywhere) is to exchange information with the other party (or parties) involved. Regardless of fault, or perceived fault, all parties must exchange the following information:
File a Report
Colorado law requires motorists to report all accidents to the police immediately, regardless of how minor it is. If police are called to the scene, a report will be started for you.
If there is significant damage or injury; if you suspect drunk driving; if the other driver lacks insurance; or if the other driver tries to flee the scene, contact the Colorado Springs Police Department at (719) 444-7000 or the local office of the Colorado State Patrol at (719) 288-2652. For minor accidents, see the CSPD's page on Cold Reporting a Minor Traffic Accident.
To obtain a copy of an accident report, contact the Colorado DMV and provide your name, date of birth, date of accident, mailing address, and payment of $2.20. Expect to wait roughly eight weeks for delivery.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Colorado drivers must have liability insurance (at a minimum) before the state will license their vehicle. This ensures that individuals who are injured or incur property damage from a car accident are reimbursed. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible after involvement in a car accident (regardless of fault) and be truthful.
You are not required to accept insurers' estimates or appraisals. See FindLaw's list of suggestions for dealing with the insurance claim process to learn more.
Determining Fault and Liability
Determining fault and liability for motor vehicle accidents can be quite complicated. Being rear-ended by an absent-minded tourist is one thing, but what if you were involved in a multi-vehicle accident triggered by the whiteout conditions of a severe blizzard? Taking diligent notes about the accident will help you make your case, should you need to file suit or challenge the other party's version of events.
In Colorado, neither party may collect damages if it is determined in the police report that both parties are equally at fault. This rule is often referred to as "50%" proportional comparative fault.
To learn more about fault and liability in car accidents, see:
Car Accident in Colorado Springs? Get Free Legal Help Today
So, you've been in a car accident in Colorado Springs and called your insurance company, which assures you it will take care of it. Now you just sit back and wait, right? Well, it depends. Some accidents involve matters of law more complicated than simply filing a claim for body damage and may require an attorney. Find out whether you need an injury attorney's help today by having a Colorado Springs-area lawyer review your case for free.
Contact a qualified attorney.