If you’re in a New York State car crash, you might need an accident report. But what is a crash report, and how do you obtain a copy? Below, our experienced team walks you through what you need to know.

What Is a New York State Accident Report?

An accident report is a document outlining the circumstances of a road crash. It contains key facts and information, including:

  • Date, time, and location of the crash
  • Driver details
  • Insurance information
  • Personal injuries/fatalities
  • Anything that contributed to the crash e.g. weather, hazards

An accident report includes comments from the responding officer, too. They’ll set out, in narrative form, what they believe unfolded at the scene based on evidence available.

Why Car Accident Reports Matter

There are three major reasons why your New York State accident report matters.

  • If you’re hurt, you can use the report to help prove that the accident caused your injuries. This can help you make a compensation claim.
  • Accident reports allow insurance companies to value claims and settle them quicker.
  • You may be legally obliged to get an accident report, depending on what happened.

Who Needs a New York State Traffic Accident Report?

Under NY law, you must report any car accident involving the following to police:

  • Personal injuries, however minor (including cuts and bruises)
  • Fatalities (whether this is a driver, passenger, or other party)

The police will complete a New York State police accident report.

You must notify the DMV if:

  • There is property damage worth over $1,0001
  • You hit a parked car
  • You injure a domestic animal e.g. cat or dog

Sometimes, if there’s very minor damage – say, a fender-bender – you don’t need to notify the DMV. However, it’s sometimes hard to tell the extent of the damage at the scene.

Again, it’s best to play safe and notify the DMV if you’re unsure. You must notify the DMV within 10 days of the accident.

When you notify the DMV, they’ll complete a New York State DMV accident report. New York State Department of Motor Vehicle Accident Reports are different from police reports. You may need both.

What Happens if You Do Not Report a Crash in NY?

Failing to report a crash when required to do so is normally a misdemeanor in New York State. Your license may be suspended, or the DMV could revoke it entirely. You could also face financial penalties.

In the worst cases, you could face hit-and-run charges. It’s always best to play it safe and report any crash, however minor, rather than take chances.

Obtaining a Copy of Your New York State Accident Report

After a car crash, it’s crucial that you request your accident report online. Obtaining a copy of your report lets you check for errors and speed up the claims process. Here are the steps to work through to request a copy of your collision records.

1. Visit the DMV Website

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles typically handles requests for police and DMV crash reports. So, your first step is visiting their website.

As a guide, they hold reports for up to four years. After this point, you can no longer request a copy.

2. Complete the Request Form

Next, order your report by completing the DMV’s request form. You’ll need basic information about the crash to complete the form, such as:

  • Driver license number
  • DMV case number
  • License plate number

The DMV will give you an option to complete a paid search, first, to ensure they have your report. You don’t need to do this, though. Instead, call us and we’ll search for your accident report for free!

Young woman distressed calling for help after car crash in NYC

3. Submit Your Request Form

The next step is submitting your form. Usually this means submitting the form online; however, you can mail it or hand it over in person at a DMV office. It’s quickest and simplest to complete the process online.

4. Receive and Review Your Report

Once the DMV receives your report, they’ll start processing. You’ll receive a PDF copy and you normally have around seven days to access it. If you don’t download it, then you’ll need to submit a new request.

Review your report carefully once you receive it. Any errors, however small, could derail your claim or reduce the amount of compensation you can claim!

Exceptions for New York State Thruway Accidents

Did your crash occur on a thruway in New York? Then you need to contact the New York State Thruway Authority, rather than the DMV. Complete a TA-W4310 and submit it to the department.

How Long Does It Take to Obtain a Copy of the Report?

Once you order a copy of a crash report, an electronic version is normally provided to you. It could be available immediately or it could take a week or two. It depends on how busy the DMV is.

You will be advised if there is any delay to expect in obtaining a copy of your report.

Remember, though, that you don’t need a copy of the report to start your insurance claim. And you don’t need the report to hire a personal injury attorney, either. The report can be used as additional evidence later to support your claim.

Why does this matter? Because the sooner you start the claims process, the sooner your case can ultimately be resolved!

Are New York State Accident Reports Public Record?

Yes. It will, however, take at least 14 days for a report to become available to download from the DMV portal. It could take 60 days or more for reports to become available to the public, depending on who filed the report.

Since NY State accident reports are public records, anyone who wants to view a report can do so. Typically, this will include drivers of the vehicles involved, lawyers, insurance company loss adjusters, and passengers.

Locate Your Accident Report Online

Not sure where to find your police report or DMV report? Don’t worry – we’re here to help. At Auto Accident Report, we know exactly where to find any accident report online. We’ll quickly locate your report, email you our findings, and explain where to access your report.

We only need a few details to get started. And there’s no obligation to use the attorneys or medical experts we recommend to help with your case, either! Start the process now and get your accident claim underway.