In New York, you must report all car accidents involving death, injury, or major property damage to the DMV. You must also call the police for accidents where anyone was injured or killed, including a pedestrian or bicyclist.

Accident reports are public records in New York. The public can access all of the information that appears in the report, including any traffic citations or criminal charges that resulted from the accident.

Here is some information about the contents of car accident reports in New York City and how the public can access them.

Duty to Report Traffic Accidents

New York law imposes two duties to report traffic accidents.

Motorist Reports

You must self-report your accident to the DMV within ten days if the accident caused:

  • Death
  • Injury
  • Property damage over $1,000

To report your accident, you will fill out a form provided on the DMV’s website. The form includes:

  • Your information
  • The registered owner’s information, if different
  • The other driver’s information
  • The damage caused
  • The location of the accident
  • The names and injuries of everyone involved in the accident
  • Your insurance information

If you fail to file the report within the required period, the DMV can suspend your driver’s license.

Police Reports

You must also call the NYPD or the New York State Police after a car accident that causes an injury or death in New York City. When the police arrive at the accident scene, you must show the officers your driver’s license and insurance information.

The officers will secure the accident scene and investigate the accident. They must file an accident report within five days after the accident.

The police report differs from your self-report in several ways. Under New York law, the officers must investigate the facts of the accident. This means that the police report will include the officers’ findings of fact. It will also include a list of charges or citations that they issued based on those facts.

Ordering a Copy of the Motorist and Police Reports

The public can access police and motorist reports through the DMV website. The police reports become available 14 to 30 days after the accident. Most police departments file their accident reports electronically with the DMV.

NYPD precincts hold accident reports for 30 days after the accident. If you need a copy of the report within 30 days of the accident, you can get a copy from the precinct. After that time, you must use the DMV website.

Motorist reports take up to 60 days to appear in the database since you must mail your motorist report in paper form.

When you purchase a copy of the police and motorist reports, you will receive an electronic copy viewable on your computer, phone, or tablet. The DMV makes these files available for seven days. If you do not print or download your reports before time expires, you will need to purchase them again.

Information in a Car Accident Report That Becomes Public

The information in motorist and police reports can help you pursue a personal injury claim after your accident. The reports describe the circumstances of the accident, who was injured, and whether any charges or citations resulted.

But they also include private information like your address, driver’s license number, birth date, and license plate number. The public can also find out whether you were charged with a crime or issued a citation because of the accident. This information becomes public when your accident report gets posted to the DMV website.

The DMV does not provide a mechanism for keeping this information private. Some states have laws that restrict who can access unredacted accident reports. In New York, anyone can purchase an accident report and view all of the information it contains.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in New York City

If you’ve been injured in an accident in Manhattan, NY, and need legal help, contact our New York City car accident lawyers at Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. to schedule a free consultation.

Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C.
100 Wall St 15th Floor
New York, NY 10005
(212) 514-5007