How Long After an Accident Can You File a Police Report in New York?

It’s in your best interest to file a report to authorities immediately following an accident. What exactly is your time frame for doing so in the state of New York? It’s important that you don’t delay too long as this may complicate procedures. Promptly filing a report also helps your case should you later decide to hire a personal injury lawyer.

When to Contact Law Enforcement

We recommend calling the police at the scene of the accident. This should be your course of action after assessing the accident and checking on the welfare of everyone involved. Some states give you up to 10 days from the date of an accident to file the report; this includes New York. However, it’s best to have police arrive at the scene. We highly recommend you call police while you, the other party involved, and witnesses are present.

New York law states that you must contact police “as soon as physically able.” Report using your mobile phone or borrow one if you do not have one. Alternatively, you may use the nearest pay phone. If these options are not available, then you may drive to the nearest police station if your car is operable. If this is not possible, then the last option is to call police ASAP as soon as you arrive home. If a passenger was in the vehicle, he/she may also file a report instead. The same goes for the owner of the vehicle if you do not own the car. However, the 10-day rule still applies in these instances.

When Is Filing a Report Necessary?

You don’t need to file a report in every scenario. A minor fender bender that resulted in nothing more than a scratch to the paint does not require a phone call to law enforcement. A report is also not necessary if you hit a parked car or other stationary object. You must, however, inform the owner by leaving a note with your contact information.

Generally, you are required to file a police report if the accident resulted in bodily injury, death, or more than $500 in property damage. The same applies if your vehicle is no longer operable and requires towing. It also applies if you plan on filing an injury or damage claim.

When filing a report, you may contact your local police department, county sheriff, or highway patrol. If a police officer responded to the scene and completed paperwork, then a report has been filed; you do not need to call police.

Reporting to Other Entities

You will also need to report any vehicular accidents to the DMV within 10 days and to your insurance provider within 24 hours. This is separate from filing a police report. Some people believe the DMV or their insurance will contact the police, who will then file the report. This is not the case. It is you who must contact law enforcement at the scene of the accident.

Failing to Report the Accident

The law requires you to report the accident. Failure to do so may result in a fine of $250, up to 15 days imprisonment, or a combination of the two. The penalty increases if you fail to report an accident involving bodily injury. This would be a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison.

Contacting an Injury Attorney

After filing a police report and taking other necessary steps, you can begin exploring other options. This includes hiring a NY & NJ car accident lawyer if you believe your case warrants monetary compensation. A personal injury lawyer can review the circumstances leading up to the accident and assess whether you have probable cause for filing a claim. In any case, to help your cause, you need to take the appropriate steps, and that begins with filing a police report at the scene of the accident.