How To Read Your Colorado Car Accident Report
Attorney Stephen A. Longo explains what you need to know
If you have been in a car accident caused by another driver in Colorado, the police officer investigating your crash will likely fill out an accident report. This official 8-page-long report, known in Colorado as a State of Colorado Traffic Crash Report (DR 3447), contains a wealth of information about your accident. That’s why it’s critical that you carefully review your report and make sure all the details written down by the investigating police officer are correct.
This is especially important because Colorado has a modified comparative negligence insurance system when it comes to car accident claims. This simply means you cannot recover financial compensation (often referred to as “damages”) if you are found to be 50 percent or more at fault for causing your collision.
Attorney Stephen A. Longo can help you obtain a copy of your report from the Colorado Department of Transportation. He can then review your report with you and make sure it accurately reflects what happened. If there are any mistakes, he can work with you to try to set the record straight. Learn how The Longo Firm, LLC can assist you after your crash. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation at our Colorado Springs office. We handle car accident claims throughout the state.
Understanding your Colorado accident report
The top part of the first page contains important information documenting exactly when and where your accident took place in Colorado. The investigating police officer’s name is listed here, along with the number of people injured or killed in the accident. Carefully verify this information. Insurance companies do the same thing. If there’s any discrepancy between the officer’s report and what actually happened, the at-fault driver’s insurance company could use such differences to deny your injury claim.
The middle part of the first page lists the contributing factors that caused your accident. This section is called the “harmful event sequence” section. The investigating officer can list up to four harmful events that contributed to your crash. Just below this section, there’s additional information about other contributing factors, including the condition of the road and weather conditions at the time of your crash.
If a fatality occurred in your accident, the investigating officer will list such information on the bottom of the first page.
The top part of the second page, officially called the “narrative/diagram” page, contains space for the investigating officer to describe the accident. Carefully review every single word in the officer’s description. Make sure the narrative for your accident accurately describes what actually happened.
The middle part of the second page contains space for a diagram of your accident. Make sure the drawing shows exactly where the vehicles were located when they crashed into each other. If you believe the picture is not accurate, your lawyer can work with you to set the record straight.
If any property was damaged in the accident, such information can be found on the bottom of this page.
The top part of this page, officially called the “motorized traffic unit/occupant” page, contains information about each driver involved in your accident. In addition, there’s information about whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol and if the investigating officer issued any traffic citations.
This middle part of this page contains a space for the investigating officer to note the exact location and severity of any damage to the vehicle. Verify this information, especially if the officer wrote that the damage to your vehicle was “slight” instead of “severe.”
The bottom of the page contains information about every driver and passenger in all vehicles involved in the crash. There are specific codes in this section to indicate where the person was in a vehicle at the time of the crash, if they were wearing a seatbelt, and if an airbag deployed, as well as the severity of a person’s injury. Information about these codes can be found on the “Involved Person Overlay” page.
This page, officially called the “traffic unit/general vehicle and CMV” page, contains information about commercial vehicles involved in your collision. Commercial vehicles can include tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, delivery trucks and buses. This page includes specific information about these vehicles, including vehicle type, the special function of the vehicle, the direction the vehicle was traveling before the crash and if the commercial truck driver took any actions before the accident to prevent the collision. Any “human contributing factors” (including driver inexperience) that may have contributed to the cause of your accident will be noted on this page.
This page, officially called the “traffic unit/non-motorist” page, contains information about all non-motorists involved in your accident. This includes any injured pedestrians and bicyclists. Their names and contact information can be found here. Any actions taken by non-motorists before the accident, as well as their location at the time of the accident, will be noted on this page. Like page three, this page contains specific codes for all non-motorists involved in the accident. These codes can be found on the “Involved Person Overlay” page.
Some accidents involve multiple vehicle passengers, especially in cases involving bus crashes. If one of the vehicles involved in your crash had more than four occupants, information about the additional occupants will be found on this page, which is called the “additional occupants” page.
This page, known as the “additional damaged properties” page, applies to accidents in which more than two vehicles or properties were damaged in the accident. This often includes multi-car collisions involving three or more vehicles.
The “Involved Personal Overlay” page contains the codes used on several pages in the accident report, including pages 3 and 5.
Click here to download a printable PDF of "How To Read Your Colorado Car Accident Report."