Colorado Auto Accidents and Police Reports

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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When you’ve been involved in an auto accident, chances are that you’ll be fairly shaken up by the experience. Who wouldn’t be? While legal experts say that it’s important to take photos, talk with witnesses and get license information, sometimes that’s just not possible. In those cases, can you really rely on police reports in Colorado?

Colorado State Patrol

We asked Jim Chalat, a Colorado attorney with over 30 years of experience whose firm focuses its practice in personal injury law, how much someone rely upon the police report as evidence of what happened in a car accident in Colorado? His answer was, “significantly.” He explained that, “The Colorado State Patrol has a number of officers who are positioned at various districts throughout the state. They are really experts in accident reconstruction and have been trained by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) and the national law enforcement schools. They know:

  • How to review an accident,
  • How to calculate speeds from skid-marks,
  • How to measure distances from point of impact to point of rest,
  • What the mathematics and the physics are of these automobile accidents,
  • How to recover various devices within motor vehicles, and particularly large trucks that retain information regarding the movement, speed, weight, and the braking actions of the driver when driving;
  • How to reconstruct accidents particularly with things such as whether or not the turn-signal was on based on the condition of the bulb – even if that bulb was broken.

“This is the skill-set that we see on our accident reconstruction teams in the Colorado State Patrol, and they’ll always, always get there before either the insurance company’s risk manager or the plaintiff’s lawyer can get there. No matter how quickly you call, even if we’re on the scene within 24 hours, we’re not going to get there before the state patrol does in a catastrophic accident.”

Experienced CO lawyers will follow through

While Chalat says that it’s very rare that he finds that the state patrol gets the underlying facts wrong, it’s important that experienced lawyers follow through. He explained, “[Police] are not in the business of making claims. They will get names of witnesses, but they won’t interview them. They will take photographs, but they might not always have them available, except under subpoena. The insurance company will be motivated to reconstruct the accident in a way that it’s not their insured’s fault or try to blame a third party.”

Chalat says that you can’t rely on the Colorado State Patrol’s report solely, but the automobile accident report does drive a lot of the issues of the case. If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, contact an experienced car accident attorney to discuss your situation and evaluate your options. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.

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