When minor car accidents happen, sometimes the drivers involved don’t believe it’s necessary to involve the police. Calling 911 after a minor accident is not a requirement in New York state, but it’s still a good idea. In some cases, it can even save you time and money down the road. 

What Are My Obligations After an Accident?

After a motor vehicle accident in New York state, calling the police is not a requirement unless one of three conditions applies:

  • Someone was injured
  • Someone was killed
  • Property damages in excess of $1,000 occurred


Even if the accident did not result in death or injury, you are obligated to file an accident report with the Division of Motor Vehicles if there is any damage greater than $1,000.

If a parked vehicle was damaged, personal property was broken, or a domestic animal was injured, the driver is required to locate and inform the owner. If the owner cannot be located, the driver must instead inform the police. 

How Do I File a DMV Report?

The Report of Motor Vehicle Accident form is available at DMV offices and online. In this report, you’ll be required to give detailed information about the cause of the accident and any damage to the vehicles involved. 

You’ll also have to report the names of all parties involved in the accident and provide insurance information. 

What Are the Consequences of Failing to Report a Car Accident?

When damage is greater than $1,000, failure to file a DMV report within ten days is actually a misdemeanor. The DMV can opt to suspend your license if you fail to report a car accident in a timely manner. 

Do I Have to Inform My Insurance Company?

In New York State, drivers are not required to inform their insurance company after a motor vehicle accident. However, it is strongly recommended. 

There is a 30-day period in which you can report motor vehicle accidents to an insurance company. After that period, you no longer qualify for insurance coverage related to the accident. 

In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you may feel fine. But reporting the accident to your insurance company can ensure that any vehicle damages or personal injury you discover will be eligible for insurance coverage. 

A car may run without issue for a few days then begin having problems. Likewise, the symptoms of whiplash injuries are known to sometimes manifest days or weeks after the immediate accident. That’s why it’s a good idea to file a claim right away.

What Are the Benefits of Calling 911?

There are several benefits to calling 911 after a car accident:

  • Official documentation
  • Accountability 
  • Proof of damages or injuries
  • Proof of fault

Calling the police may seem inconvenient or unnecessary, but it’s the safe choice. 

Official Documentation

Involving law enforcement ensures correct, impartial documentation of the event. When police officers complete an accident report, there is an official record of the events. This gives accountability to both parties and provides a neutral overview of the accident.

No Paperwork Necessary 

A police report will also go to the DMV. This means you are not required to acquire, complete, or return an accident report form to the DMV. 

Proof of Fault, Damages, and Injury

The most important reason to call 911 is to establish documentation of the extent of the damages and injuries in an accident. If the police issue citations to the other driver, it could also support your claim that the other driver was at fault.

Both parties may agree about events while at the scene of a motor vehicle accident. However, without police involvement, you must depend on the other driver to remain honest about the events during your insurance claim or lawsuit.

Unfortunately, some people take advantage of opportunities like this to make exaggerated claims in order to gain compensation from you at a later date. 

Protect Yourself

False claims about fault, injury, and damages after an accident can be costly. It’s best for both drivers to protect themselves by calling 911 and establishing official documentation about the details of a car accident.