The Importance of the Official Crash Report

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man filling out a police report after an accident on Long Island

If you are involved in a car accident that results in damage of $1000 or more, you’re required to file a police report under New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law.

When police are called to the scene of a crash, they will create and submit a detailed report. The information that is included in an accident report could be a crucial document if you’ve been hurt and need to seek compensation from the at-fault party for your car accident injuries, or if you need to make an insurance claim after the crash.

Once you’ve sought medical attention and are recovering, you will want to obtain a copy of the police report from the accident. The official report could go a long way in establishing what happened and who was at fault for the motor vehicle accident.

What is a police report?

A police report contains important information about a car accident. This information includes:

  • A comprehensive description of property damage to any vehicles involved in the crash.
  • Each driver’s contact information.
  • A summary of the accident and the scene.
  • An initial determination of the at-fault party or parties, which can be vital when building your case for compensation later.
  • A description of any visible injuries that individuals involved in the crash sustained.
  • Whether any of the drivers involved were issued citations.
  • A list of eyewitnesses, along with their contact information and witness testimony.

The first thing that you should do after a crash is to seek medical attention. Once you have done that, and are ready to get the claims process started, you will want to get a copy of the police report. The report will be some of the most important evidence you use to build a case for compensation.

How to Get a Police Report in New York

If you were in a car accident in New York, obtaining a copy of the police report is straightforward, but where you get the report depends on different factors.

For accidents that did not occur on the New York State Thruway:

  • If you were in a car accident and a police officer or sheriff created the report, then you will obtain your report from the local police department or sheriff’s office. Fortunately, obtaining a report from these entities is typically no charge. Sometimes these types of deports are also available at your local DMV, but there may be a small cost associated with obtaining the report.
  • If you were in an accident that was reported by a New York state trooper, then you must obtain a copy of the police report from the DMV. You won’t be able to get it from your local police department or sheriff’s office.

For accidents that occurred on the New York State Thruway:

  • If you were in a car accident that occurred on the New York State Thruway, you won’t request your accident report directly from the police. Instead, you can request your report from the Thruway Authority using this form. 

Filing an Injury Claim in New York 

There are many components to filing an insurance claim in the state of New York. Successfully claiming compensation for damages you’ve suffered because of an accident depends on building the strongest case possible, which is why working with an attorney is crucial.

Your injury attorney will work with you to:

  • Obtain the police report. The police report will contain information that you may not have been able to collect from the scene of the accident. A police report will be considered strong evidence in a court of law.
  • Independently investigate the accident. Just as the police investigated the accident at the scene, your attorney will independently investigate the accident as well. Your attorney’s investigation will likely be more comprehensive than the police report and include all sorts of evidence that may not have been immediately available at the scene. Your attorney will independently identify the at-fault party or parties.
  • Consult with medical professionals and review your medical documents. Your attorney will speak with your doctor and other medical professionals who treated you to try and get an idea of the amount of compensation you need to cover your medical expenses. Your medical documents will also provide insight into your injuries and your recovery.
  • Interview eyewitnesses. Your attorney will contact eyewitnesses who were at the scene and interview them on your behalf. Eyewitness testimony can be powerful evidence in a court of law when it comes to identifying the at-fault party or parties.
  • Gather photo and video evidence. Your attorney will collect any photo and video evidence from the scene. This might include any photos that you or others took, as well as surveillance camera footage from any nearby buildings. This type of evidence is irrefutable and can work strongly in your favor if your accident was caused by another driver’s negligence.
  • File a claim with the appropriate insurance company on your behalf. No one should have to navigate the complex claims process on their own, especially if they are already dealing with the physical and emotional effects of the accident. Your attorney will file the claim with the appropriate party or parties on your behalf.
  • Attempt to reach a fair settlement with the insurance provider. Your attorney will negotiate with the insurance provider and attempt to get a fair settlement. An experienced attorney will know about the tactics insurance adjusters use to lower the payout and will work to maximize the amount of compensation you receive.
  • If a settlement cannot be reached, your attorney will file a lawsuit in court. In the event that an insurance provider refuses to pay a fair settlement, your attorney will file a personal injury lawsuit in court on your behalf and will bring your case before a judge.

How a Police Report Could Help Your Injury Claim

Certain information included in police reports can provide strong evidence of the fault in your case. A police report will likely detail the scene of the accident, describe your injuries and property damage, including testimony from eyewitnesses, and make an initial determination of who was at fault. This is powerful evidence that can help to maximize the payout you receive.

How Finz & Finz, P.C. Can Help

If you’re the victim of a crash caused by someone else’s negligence, the New York car accident lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. on Long Island could help you seek the compensation that you deserve for medical expenses, lost income, damage to your vehicle, and pain and suffering you’ve endured. Contact one of our attorneys today to get started.