Craig Rosenbaum | December 11, 2022 | Car Accidents
Can you file an insurance claim without a police report? Yes, it is possible to file either a personal injury claim or a property damage claim after a New York car accident, even without a police report. Nevertheless, it is much more difficult to win your claim without a police report.
New York’s Motor Vehicle Accident Report
You can obtain a motor vehicle accident report (a “police report”) by filling out a Request for Copy of Collision Record and sending it to the police precinct where the accident occurred. Generally speaking, your vehicle must have been involved in the accident, and you must file your request within 30 days of the accident.
You can also file a request online at the Collision Report Retrieval Portal. Through the online portal, you can access police reports all the way back to October 2016. It could take up to seven business days to receive your report this way.
Settlement Talks: Insurance Companies Seek Profit, Not Justice
Once you file your claim with an insurance company, you must always remember one important fact: insurance companies are businesses that exist to make money. They will try every tactic they can think of to find an excuse to deny your claim or to minimize its value. They will certainly demand that you produce a copy of the police report as a precondition to settling your claim.
Admissibility of Evidence and the Hearsay Rule
Police reports are important in settlement negotiations with insurance companies. Nevertheless, for most purposes, you cannot use a police report as evidence in court because of the hearsay rule. Instead of introducing a written police report into evidence, a lawyer will call whoever wrote the report as a witness.
Proving Fault Without an Accident Report
Depending on the facts of your case, there are many ways you might prove liability in a car accident case without relying on the police report. Calling the person who wrote the report to the witness stand is one way. Other forms of evidence you can use include:
- A deposition (out-of-court testimony) from the person who wrote the report;
- Photographs of the scene of the accident, as well as injuries and property damage;
- Medical records;
- The testimony of an accident reconstruction specialist (an expert witness);
- Eyewitnesses to the accident;
- CCTV footage of the accident; or
- Violation of traffic law by the defendant.
Many other forms of evidence might be available, depending on the circumstances.
The Compensation You Should Demand
- Past, present, and future medical expenses;
- Past, present, and future lost earnings;
- Incidental expenses such as child care;
- Compensation for psychological and emotional issues such as pain and suffering
In unusual cases where the defendant’s conduct shocks the conscience, you could also demand punitive damages.
New York administers a pure comparative fault system to determine damages when more than one party is at fault for an accident. The police report is one important negotiating tool to determine who was at fault for an accident, but it is not the only way. Ultimately, parties tend to settle claims based on what they believe a court would award.
If your claim goes to court, New York will deduct whatever percentage of your claim equals your own percentage of fault for the accident. If the accident was 1% your fault, the court will deduct 1% from your damages. The court will deduct 99% of your damages if the accident was 99% your fault. The insurance company will do its best to jack up your percentage of fault to minimize the amount they have to pay.
Hire a New York Personal Injury Lawyer To Help You Settle Your Claim
Most personal injury claims settle out of court after a period of negotiation. If you try to negotiate yourself, odds are you will be at a disadvantage against an insurance adjustor or an attorney, both of whom are probably professional negotiators.
Hire the right New York personal injury lawyer, and they will handle negotiations (and a lawsuit if necessary) on your behalf. Remember that your attorney cannot settle your case without your authorization.