Car accidents are often more likely to happen in high-traffic areas. Naturally, the more vehicles on the road, the greater the odds of an accident occurring.

For example, car accidents and other motor vehicle accidents tend to be more common in New York City than in many other parts of New York State. There’s the possibility you’ll be involved in one someday, even if you practice safe driving habits.

You need to prepare accordingly. This involves understanding essential facts about car accident reports in New York City. The following general overview will cover a range of points with which you should become familiar.

When To Report a Car Accident in New York City

New York State law requires you to report a car accident when it results in:

  • Injury
  • Death, or
  • Estimated property damage of at least $1,000.

You are also required to report an accident if it results in the death of a domestic animal. You must take all necessary steps to identify the owner of said animal as well.

Don’t make the mistake of not reporting an accident if you have any doubt as to whether you should. Always err on the side of safety and report an accident as soon as possible.

You can simply call 911 in the immediate aftermath of an accident to report it. A dispatcher will send an officer from the appropriate precinct to the scene.

Don’t allow another driver involved in the accident to convince you to “work it out” with them instead of getting law enforcement involved. Drivers sometimes try to convince others not to call the police if they have reason to not want them at the scene. For instance, a driver may try to convince you not to report the accident because they’re intoxicated.

Don’t let them do so. Calmly exchange your names and contact information, then call the police right away.

How Long Do I Have To File a Report After a New York, NY Car Accident?

If your accident meets any of the criteria described earlier, you must report it within 10 days of the accident. You must also complete a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident form. Failure to do so can result in suspension of your license or similar penalties.

That said, it’s always best to report an accident in the immediate aftermath. The only reason not to would be because your injuries are so severe that they prevent you from reporting an accident right away.

You will need to answer the police officer’s questions honestly when they arrive at the scene. As you await their arrival, document the scene by taking pictures of it. Take pictures of any signs of injury as well. It’s also wise to get the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene.

Along with answering the police officer’s questions, you’ll also have to provide various pieces of information when filling out the Report of Motor Vehicle Accident form. 

They include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Your name and driver’s license number
  • The location of the accident
  • A description of the accident

The form will feature several diagrams of common types of accidents. You will circle the one that most resembles the type of accident in which you were involved.

Why Police Reports Matter

Again, you may be legally required to report an accident to the police. That’s perhaps the most important reason to do so. However, filing a report can improve your chances of recovering appropriate compensation later when filing an insurance claim.

It’s also extremely important to seek medical attention right away after the police officer no longer needs you at the scene. See a doctor even if you don’t believe you’ve been injured. It’s possible for the signs of an injury to first become noticeable days or even weeks after an accident. You’ll have a better chance of demonstrating to an insurer that your injuries genuinely resulted from a car accident if you seek treatment in its immediate aftermath.