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How to Obtain a Car Accident Report in New York

Woman photographs a broken car on smartphone and holds insurance documents in her hands. Damage assessment after car accident concept

New York City experiences thousands of car accidents every month. Thankfully, many collisions don’t involve injury, just property damage. To expedite getting traffic back to normal after a crash, New York law says the police don’t have to be called in a non-injury accident. The drivers must stop and check for injuries, and if there are no injuries and their vehicles are operable, they are instructed to move them out of traffic, either to the shoulder, the median, or the rightmost lane. There, the drivers are to exchange information (driver’s license info, insurance info, vehicle registration) and then move on. If the accident caused more than $1,000 in property damage, the driver must file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (MV-104) with the DMV within ten days of the crash.

On the other hand, drivers must call the police to the scene whenever any accident involved injury or death to a person or animal, or if the accident involved damage to a parked vehicle or other property damage, and the owner of the vehicle or property cannot be located.

When the police come to the scene and make a report, getting a copy of that report can be a critical piece of information your attorney will need when negotiating with the insurance company for payment on your claim, or if litigation is necessary to obtain compensation for your injuries. Below we discuss how to get a copy of the accident in NYC and elsewhere. For help after a serious car accident in New York or the Hudson Valley, call the personal injury attorneys at Dupée & Monroe for a free consultation regarding compensation for the harm you have suffered.

For Accidents in NYC

After responding to an accident and collecting necessary information, including driver and witness statements and physical evidence, the police will prepare a report, known as a Collision Record. This record should be completed within a week to ten days after the accident, at which time a copy should be available at the local police station. After 30 days, the local precinct will forward the record to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

You therefore have the option of getting the report from the precinct or the DMV, depending on your timing. To get a copy from the precinct, you can go to the station in person and ask for a Copy of Collision Record. You should have all the information you need to get this record by referring to the incident slip provided to you at the scene by the police officer investigating the crash. This document will include the name of the responding officer, the report number assigned to your accident, and contact information for the police precinct handling your accident. Even if you don’t have this slip in hand, you should still be able to get a Copy of Collision Record by providing the appropriate information at the precinct regarding the crash.

If getting to the precinct physically is not possible or practical for you, NYC also offers a form online that you could print out and mail to the precinct and ask them to mail a Copy of Collision Record to you.

For Crashes in the Hudson Valley and Elsewhere in NY

If the crash took place outside of New York City, or if it’s been more than 30 days since the accident, your Collision Record is likely housed at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In that case, the report can be obtained by printing out an online form and mailing it to the DMV, but you can also complete the process entirely online. It costs seven dollars to search for a report online and ten dollars to request a search by mail, plus fifteen dollars to order a report online or by mail.

If the accident occurred on a New York highway, then the State Troopers are likely in possession of your accident report. You can request a copy from the New York State Police by providing them with basic information about the accident, including the date of the accident, the county where the crash occurred, and the license plate numbers of the vehicles involved. The proper form to use differs depending on whether the accident happened on the New York State Thruway or other state roads and highways. You can find links to the appropriate form on the New York State Police website.

When to Get the Report

In most cases, the DMV will hold on to the accident report for four years, but you will want to obtain your copy long before then. First of all, you only have three years at the most to file a personal injury lawsuit after a crash. Practically speaking, however, you will hopefully be negotiating a settlement with the insurance company long before that. Settlement talks should begin in earnest as soon as your doctor declares you are “medically stationary” or have reached the point of “maximum medical improvement” from your injuries. If settlement talks aren’t productive, filing a lawsuit may be a viable option. The best practice is to get the police report as soon as it becomes available so you’ll know what is in it and be armed with the information you need when it’s time to resolve your claim.

If You’ve Suffered Serious Injury in a New York Car Accident, Dupée & Monroe is Here to Help

If you need help getting medical treatment and compensation for the harm you suffered after a serious crash in NYC or the Hudson Valley, or if you are pursuing another negligence-based claim in New York, contact the compassionate and dedicated Goshen personal injury lawyers of Dupée & Monroe for a free consultation at 845-294-8900.

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