What to Do After a Not-At-Fault Accident Without Insurance in Colorado

If you don’t have car insurance in Colorado and get into an accident, you could get your driver’s license suspended—even if the accident wasn’t your fault.
Written by Amber Reed
If you’re involved in an auto accident in
but don’t have
car insurance
, you can still file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company—as long as the accident wasn’t your fault
  • All motor vehicle owners in Colorado are legally required to carry set amounts of car insurance.
  • Colorado is an at-fault state, which means the driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying the other party’s damages, typically through their own insurance company. 
  • Even if the accident wasn’t your fault, you could still face serious penalties for driving without car insurance—which can range from large fines and a suspended driver’s license to jail time.

What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in Colorado and not at fault

It’s illegal to drive without car insurance in Colorado—and getting into a traffic accident while uninsured can result in serious legal trouble. Here’s what you should do after a car accident in Colorado when you don’t have insurance coverage. 
If you’re tempted to leave the scene of the accident in order to avoid getting caught—don’t! You’ll have to face penalties for
driving without car insurance
, but the penalties for a Colorado hit-and-run are much, much worse. 
Whether or not you were at fault for the initial collision, leaving the scene of a crash can result in:
  • A $300 fine and up to 90 days in jail if the accident resulted in property damage.
  • A fine of up to $500,000 and up to six years in jail if the accident resulted in an injury.
  • A fine of up to $750,000 and up to 12 years in jail if the accident resulted in a death.
After a car accident in Colorado, the best course of action is to pull over, check for injuries, and call 911 if necessary. Then, talk to any other drivers involved and exchange names and contact information. Get the other driver’s insurance information, including the name of their insurance provider.  
Finally, make sure to take photos of the accident to help insurance adjusters determine who was at fault.
If the crash wasn’t your fault, and the other driver has auto insurance, then you can file a claim with their insurance company—even if you don’t have your own coverage. But if the at-fault driver was also uninsured, then you’ll have to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit to try and receive monetary compensation for vehicle repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.

How fault is decided in Colorado

After responding to a traffic accident, law enforcement will fill out a report with the details of the accident, issue tickets, or make arrests if necessary. But no matter what happens at the scene of the crash, determining who was at fault is ultimately up to the insurance companies. 
If you believe that an accident was the other driver’s fault, you’ll be asked to provide evidence when you file an insurance claim. Describing what happened can help, but you’ll be better served by taking pictures—as photographs are the best way to determine who should be held accountable for the other party’s expenses.

Reporting a car accident in Colorado

According to
Colorado's car accident laws
, any accident which results in injury, death, or property damage that exceeds $1,000 must be reported to law enforcement. 
You’re not required to call the police after a minor accident, but you will still need to report the collision to the DMV within 60 days. To report an accident to the DMV, you can
fill out a report online

What happens if you’re at fault

If it’s determined that you caused an accident in Colorado, you should be prepared to face more serious consequences. 
Because of the state’s
modified comparative negligence law
, you’ll be financially responsible for your portion of the other driver’s damages if you are deemed 50% negligent for the accident. If you don’t have insurance, the not-at-fault driver can file a lawsuit against you to recover damages—which you’ll likely have to pay out-of-pocket.. 

Accidents with uninsured drivers in Colorado

So what happens if you get into a car accident and the other driver was at fault, but they don’t have car insurance? In most cases, the only way to recoup damages in this scenario is to file a personal injury lawsuit and have an attorney argue your case in court.
However, if you don’t want to deal with a long and arduous legal process, you can protect yourself by purchasing
uninsured motorist coverage
(UIM), a type of coverage that pays for your medical expenses if the other driver doesn’t carry sufficient bodily injury liability coverage or simply doesn’t have car insurance at all. 
While this optional coverage isn’t required in Colorado, it’s a great way to protect yourself from the 16.3% of Colorado motorists who don’t meet the state’s minimum coverage requirements. 
Other optional coverages to consider include
medical payments (MedPay) insurance
, which pays for doctor and hospital bills through your auto insurance policy, and
collision coverage
, which allows you to file a claim for vehicle repairs.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Colorado

As an uninsured driver in Colorado, you can still claim damages after an accident as long as you’re not at fault—but that doesn’t mean you're off the hook completely. Because driving without car insurance is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, you’ll still face some legal consequences. 
According to
Colorado Statute 42-4-1409
, the minimum fine for driving without car insurance is $500 for a first offense. You’ll also get a license suspension (which will be lifted once you provide proof of insurance) and four points on your license. 
For a first-time offense, the court may also sentence you to 40 hours of community service.
Second offenses are more serious. For a second offense, your license will be suspended for four months and the minimum fine is increased to $1,000—and in addition to community service, the court could choose to sentence you to up to one year in jail. 
Subsequent offenders incur a mandatory license suspension of eight months, and usually receive longer community service and/or jail sentences.
If you’re convicted of driving without insurance, Colorado law requires proof that you’ve met the state’s minimum coverage requirements. You can submit this proof to the DMV by filing an
SR-22 in Colorado
Filing an SR-22 often leads to high-cost insurance premiums, and must remain on record for three years. Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid these penalties—the law is the law.
The one exception is if you have insurance coverage, but were simply caught driving without proof of insurance. Once you submit proof of insurance, the court will usually reduce your penalty to a small fine, or even dismiss the charges entirely.

Minimum required car insurance in Colorado

If you want to avoid the consequences of driving without car insurance, you’ll need to meet
Colorado’s minimum car insurance requirements
. According to the state’s insurance laws, all motorists must carry the following auto insurance coverages:
Because these coverages only include a relatively low amount of liability insurance, they’re usually not enough to cover most expenses after an accident—but carrying car insurance (even if you only buy the minimum amount) protects you from an uninsured driving conviction. 
However, drivers who want to get the most from their car insurance plan are recommended to purchase larger amounts—around $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, and $100,000 for property damage liability. In most cases, meeting those numbers means you’ll be fully protected after an at-fault accident. 
It’s also a good idea to consider optional coverages which help you pay for damage that happens to your car. For instance, collision coverage can help with car repair bills after an accident, while
comprehensive insurance
helps you deal with damage from hail, fire, or auto theft—all common issues in Colorado. 

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

Here’s one more reason why you should always carry car insurance: if you get caught driving while uninsured, it’ll cost more to insure your car later. Most insurance companies charge more to insure motorists with bad driving records than those with no tickets or traffic violations.
“I was looking for a liability insurance plan for my truck until I can afford more coverage.
made it simple to shop around for the best deal for me. Thank you!” —Jake L.
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