Police Reports and Accident Claims | O'Connor and Partners, PLLC

When you are involved in a car accident, you need evidence in order to file a successful claim with your insurance company. You need evidence that you were involved in an accident; you need evidence that your vehicle damage and injuries resulted from the accident; and, in order to pursue a fault-based claim, you need evidence that the other driver was at fault in the collision.

In many cases, a key part of building an accident claim is the police report. The police report provides documentation that your accident happened. Frequently, it can also help establish that the other driver was a fault.

So, what happens if you don’t have a police report? Can you still file a claim? And, if so, how will not having a police report impact your financial recovery?

Can You File an Insurance Claim If You Don’t Have a Police Report?

Even if you don’t have a police report, you still can – and should – file an insurance claim after a car accident. While having a police report can be helpful (and extremely helpful in some cases), it is not necessary.

So, if you were involved in a car accident, you should contact your insurance company promptly. You can get started by providing the information that is required in order to initiate a claim.

Why Does It Help to Have a Police Report?

While you can still file a claim, if you do not have a police report from your accident, this could make it more difficult to obtain insurance coverage for your property damage and injuries. For example, some of the issues you are likely to encounter include:

  • Your insurance company might dispute that the accident happened. If you don’t have a police report, your insurance company may question your claim that your vehicle damage and injuries resulted from a collision.
  • The insurance company might claim that you have inadequate evidence to receive coverage. Even if the insurer does not dispute that the accident happened, not having a police report could still make it more difficult to recover just compensation. This is particularly true if you are filing a fault-based claim under the other driver’s insurance policy.

But, even though a police report can help to streamline the process of proving your right to coverage, in most cases accident victims will have access to various other forms of evidence as well. For example, if you do not have a police report, it may still be possible to secure coverage by presenting evidence including:

  • Photos and videos that you or your passenger took at the scene of the accident
  • Statements from eyewitnesses
  • Traffic camera or surveillance camera footage
  • Evidence of the location and extent of the damage to your vehicle
  • Your medical records (which should show that your injuries are consistent with being involved in a traumatic accident)

Also, keep in mind that you can (and, in some cases, are required to) report the accident to the police at a later date. Doing so may support the claim you file with your insurance company and/or help if you pursue a fault-based claim against the negligent driver.

How Can I Get a Copy of the Police Report from My Car Accident?

If the police responded to your accident and you have simply not gotten a copy of the report yet, you or your lawyer can get one from the local precinct. The same is true if you misplaced your copy of the police report.

If you don’t know whether there is a police report (i.e., if you were transported to the hospital from the scene with serious or life-threatening injuries), your lawyer can assist you with obtaining a copy. In this scenario, since first responders were present at the scene, a police report should be available.

IMPORTANT: You May Be Required to Notify the Police of Your Car Accident

Importantly, if the police did not respond to the scene of your accident (either because they weren’t called, because they were too busy, or because your accident seemed to be very minor), you may be required to report your accident to the police and/or the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Under New York law, you must report your car accident if: 

  • Anyone was injured in the accident; 
  • Anyone was killed in the accident; and/or
  • The accident resulted in more than $1,000 in property damage.

If you have questions about obtaining a police report for your accident or reporting your accident to the police or the New York DMV, an accident attorney can help. It is in your best interest to speak with a lawyer about your case as soon as possible.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today

Fair compensation is not guaranteed after a car accident. Whether you file a claim with your own insurance company, take action against the at-fault driver, or have a case against another third party, O’Connor & Partners, PLLC can advise you of your rights and collect crucial evidence and records on your behalf.

Please call O’Connor & Partners, PLLC at (845) 303-8777 today for a free case review. Our accident lawyers serve clients in Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, and other areas of New York.

by O'Connor & Partners, PLLC
Last updated on - Originally published on

Posted in: Car Accidents