When Do I Need to Report a Car Accident in New York?

person talking on the phone after a car accident

While all accidents should be reported, those involved in collisions are often confused about when to call the police. If your accident only involved minor property damage, you and the other driver can exchange insurance information at the scene and go about your business.

An accident report for insurance purposes can be filed at the DMV and must be filed within ten days if the property damage was over $1,000. You and the other driver are still required to exchange information, even if there were no injuries.

If there were no injuries, but one or more vehicles can’t be moved out of the road safely, then you should call 911. You also need to call the police if:

  • Anyone has been injured or killed
  • A domestic animal has been injured or killed
  • There is damage to anyone else’s property, and that person can’t be located

For instance, if you are rear-ended and the accident makes you lose control of the steering wheel and you hit a parked car, you and the driver who hit you might be fine. But if you can’t find the owner of the parked car, you’ll both have to stay on the scene until police can show up and take a report for the property damage to that vehicle.

How to Report a Car Accident in New York

To report a non-injury accident after the fact, you can go to the DMV’s website, or to the New York City accident information site, and get the Report of Motor Vehicle Accident form. You can also get a copy at your local police precinct or DMV office.

Once this is filed, the DMV can generate an official copy of your accident report. That is what your insurance company wants when they request a “police report” of your accident.

An accident report is also created from the official police report when an officer responds to an injury accident, but when you make a request, you will get the same DMV-generated copy, as you will see below.

How to Get a Copy of Your Accident Report

If the NYPD was the responding agency, you can easily access your report by filing a request either from the precinct where the accident happened or through NYPD’s Collision Report Retrieval Portal. The reports are available 7-10 days after the accident and are kept at the precinct for 30 days. After that, they are accessible through the DMV, using Form MV-198C.

If your accident took place outside the city, or if New York State Troopers were otherwise involved, then you need to request your report from them. They have slightly different requirements for requesting reports.

  • Accidents that occurred on the NYS Thruway must be requested from the New York State Thruway Authority.
  • Accidents on all other roads handled by the state troopers must be requested directly from the DMV, using Form MV-198C. The state troopers’ reports are typically not available until 3-6 weeks after an accident.

If your accident happened outside of New York City, you’ll need to contact the agency involved directly. You should have received an incident number from the responding officer. If you did not, the department will ask you for the time and location of the accident.

If you want any investigative materials, for instance, if you want photos or notes taken by the Collision Investigation Squad, you may file a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request when the investigation is complete. Your attorney could do this for you if you’ve hired an experienced injury lawyer to represent you.

Contact a New York Car Accident Lawyer

If you’ve been involved in a car accident due to another person’s carelessness or negligence, you should contact a New York car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

If an insurance claim is denied after a loss, and your policy hasn’t lapsed due to non-payment, the most common reasons are:

  • Failure to file on time. Most insurance companies have a strict file-by deadline for your claim. It depends on your policy, but it is usually 30 days. However, some policies require you to notify them in as few as 10 days after an accident. Having an attorney review the policy can help you avoid this simple mistake.
  • Inadequate supporting documentation. Your insurance company wants you to provide specific documents with your claim form when you send it in. If any of them are missing, your claim will be rejected. An attorney can tell you whether you have all the material your insurer wants and if anything is missing.
  • Failure to mitigate damages. This is a legal term that means you haven’t done enough after the accident to prevent further damage. You’re supposed to fix what you can even before the insurance check comes back. Your attorney will let you know what needs to be repaired before you file a claim and what can wait until later so that your entire claim isn’t rejected.

Finally, you should always let an attorney review anything that the insurance company sends you. Never sign anything that an insurance company sends to you without having an attorney review it.

At Finz & Finz, P.C., our New York City car accident lawyers are here to help you seek fair compensation if you were injured in an accident caused by someone else. Time is limited to take action, so contact us to get the qualified legal assistance you need and deserve. Call us at (855) TOP-FIRM for a free, confidential consultation about your claim. We’re here for you no matter what time you call.

  • About the Author
  • Latest Posts

Finz & Finz, P.C. is a New York and Long Island personal injury law firm based out of Mineola, NY. It was founded in 1984 and is highly rated, with many honors and awards of excellence.