When you are involved in a car accident, there are some steps you should always try to take at the scene of the collision. There are also steps that you are legally required to take in some cases. One of these steps is calling the police.
While you aren’t always required to call the police from the scene of an accident in New York, if you are required to call the police and fail to do so, you can potentially face steep penalties. A car accident lawyer can help you protect your rights and advise you how to proceed after a crash.
When You Must Call the Police from the Scene of a Car Accident
There are two circumstances in which motorists in New York are legally required to call the police from the scene of a car accident:
- Injury or Death – If anyone was injured or killed in the accident, you must call 911 from the scene and wait for the police to arrive. You must also report any accident resulting in injury to or the death of a domestic animal.
- Damage to Property of Unknown Owner – Under New York law, you are required to report an accident to the police if the accident results in damage to a parked vehicle or any other property and the owner cannot be located.
What if you don’t know whether the accident resulted in injury? When in doubt, it is best to report a car accident to the police from the scene. You can’t get in trouble for reporting an accident if it turns out no one was injured, but you can get in trouble for failing to report a collision in which injuries occurred.
What if you only learn that someone was injured in the collision after the fact? If you or one of your passengers starts experiencing symptoms after the crash, or if you later learn that the other driver is seeking treatment, you should report the accident to the police promptly. At this point, you should not call 911, but instead call your local police department’s non-emergency number.
5 Important Facts About Reporting a Car Accident in New York
In addition to knowing when to call the police after a car accident, it is crucial to keep the following points in mind when reporting a car accident in New York:
1. You May Need to Report the Accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
If the accident caused $1,000 or more in property damage to any one vehicle or any other property, you must report the accident to the New York DMV within 10 days. This is in addition to the requirement to report the accident to the police if the crash resulted in injury, death, or damage to property of an unknown owner.
2. You Will Likely Need to Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company
Insurance companies typically require their policyholders to report all accidents regardless of severity and regardless of fault. If you fail to report an accident promptly, this could result in a denial of coverage.
Additionally, since New York is a “no fault” auto insurance state, you will need to report the accident to your insurer in order to seek coverage for your accident-related losses.
3. If You Have Failed to Report Your Accident, You Should Do So Promptly
If you haven’t yet reported your accident as required, you should take necessary action as soon as possible. We have previously covered filing a report after a car accident in New York. If you are concerned because you didn’t report the accident immediately, you can consult with an attorney first.
4. Failing to Report an Accident to the Police or the DMV Can Lead to Penalties
You may face civil and/or criminal penalties if you fail to report an accident as required by law. While the most likely penalty is a fine, you can also potentially face up to 15 days in jail.
If you fail to report your accident to the DMV, this could result in a driver’s license suspension plus the costs of having your driver’s license reinstated.
5. Failing to Report an Accident Can Also Create Challenges for Your Insurance Claim
Finally, failing to report an accident promptly can lead to difficulties with insurance. Without an official record of where and when the accident happened, you could struggle to secure the coverage you deserve.
There are other ways to prove that you are entitled to coverage. However, when dealing with one or more insurance companies, it is best to avoid unnecessary challenges if at all possible.
Need Help After a Car Accident? Contact Us for a Free Consultation
It is in your best interest to report a car accident to the police as soon as possible. Ideally you will be able to call 911 from the scene of the crash and speak to the officer when he or she arrives. However, if you have been seriously injured, it may not be possible to report the accident to the police immediately.
O’Connor & Partners, PLLC can help you protect your rights and take the necessary steps after a car accident. Our lawyers have more than 150 years of combined experience representing injured people.
Please call (845) 303-8777 today for a free case review. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and other areas of New York.