Yes, You Have to Fill Out an Accident Report in NY After an Accident

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If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you know that there are a lot of things that go through your mind right after. “Am I hurt?” “Are other passengers ok?” “How much is this going to cost,” and more may be questions that run through your head. The last thing people who have just been in a car crash want to be thinking about is filing boring, mundane paperwork. Unfortunately, though, that is something you have to do after a car crash in NYC. New York law requires you to fill out an accident report after you are
involved in a crash. Failure to do so can result in criminal penalties.


Although a mandatory report is going to feel incredibly annoying, especially after something as seriousas a car accident, there are a lot of good reasons to do so besides avoiding criminal charges. Accidentreports can hold valuable information that a lawyer can use to help prepare a future lawsuit against any parties that caused the accident. Here’s everything you need to know about car accident reports in NYC.

Do I Really Have to Fill Out an Accident Report after a Car Crash in NYC?

You do, in fact, have to fill out a crash report after pretty much any incident that happens in NYC. VAT Law § 605, anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident in New York is required to report it if anyone gets hurt or damage to any one person’s property exceeds $1,000. While this may make it sound like you do not have to report lots of accidents because they do not reach the statutory threshold, the reality is that this law makes it so that it is good practice to report any accident.
First, some injuries will be obvious after a crash, but others will not due to adrenaline, shock, or other factors. The last thing you want is to assume someone in an accident is fine, only for them to discover they have nerve damage a couple of days later, and you did not report the crash like you were supposed to. Second, nobody in their right mind is doing damage estimates right after a car crash, so there is no way to know whether the damage caused in the crash is going to be $10, $100, or $1,000. Anyone who’s had car trouble knows that what looks like a routine repair can end up costing way more than what you
initially expected, or the car may be totaled completely and need to be replaced. It is better to err on the side of caution and report the accident, regardless of how minimal the damage looks.
You are required to file your accident report with the DMV within ten days of the accident taking place, so you should report the crash as soon as possible to make sure it gets in and is accounted for.

What Happens After I File a Car Accident Report in NYC?

Under § 603, police officers need to make their own reports of the accident to their police departments. These reports have many details about the crash, including statements you made to the officer, their observations, and other details that police officers feel are relevant. These reports can be invaluable in preparing a lawsuit, so a lawyer can get them for you once they are filed. You can also request a report yourself from either the DMV or the police precinct that responded to your crash, depending on how much time has passed since the accident.

How Does Filing a Report After a Crash Help You?

There are other benefits to filing a report after a car accident besides simply complying with the laws of the land. Namely, they can help you build an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit. Depending on the time it takes for you to recover from injuries and do other things after a car crash, some time – even years – may have passed between the actual accident and when you contact an NYC car accident lawyer.
In that time, details may have been forgotten or become foggy. What accident reports allow for is a recollection of the crash that was made very shortly after it happened. Although accident reports are seldom allowed as direct evidence, they can be used by attorneys to help build a strong factual basis for your claims and give you a better shot at being successful in court.

Consequences for Not Filling Out an Accident Report in NYC

There are also potential consequences if you do not fill out an accident report after a car crash. This is especially true if you leave the scene after a crash happens. Pursuant to § 600 and § 605, there are numerous penalties for leaving the scene of an accident where you know injury or property damage has occurred. Depending on the circumstances and whether there are prior offenses on your record, these penalties can range from minor fines to getting convicted of misdemeanors or low-grade felonies.
Filing a report after a crash can seem like a hassle, but it is always a good idea to do so – and not just because it is required by law. These reports can form the bedrock of insurance claims and legal actions you take to see justice done on your behalf.

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