Under New York law, drivers are required to report most car accidents to the police, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or both. However, many drivers are not aware of these requirements. Additionally, if an accident seems relatively minor, calling the police or contacting the DMV might not seem necessary. Furthermore, if you need to leave the scene of an accident in an ambulance, you might not have a chance to file a report promptly.
There are multiple reasons why someone might delay filing or even neglect to file a car accident report. However, this is not an issue that drivers can simply overlook.
Failing to report an accident can potentially lead to civil and/or criminal penalties. So, if you did not promptly report your car accident, can you report it after the fact?
Understanding New York’s Car Accident Reporting Requirements
First, let’s be clear about the car accident reporting requirements under New York law. When you are involved in an accident as a driver, there are potentially two reports that you will need to file:
- Reporting the Accident to the Police – If you are involved in a car accident, you need to report the accident to the police. This does not simply mean calling 911. If you call 911 and a police officer responds to the scene of the accident, the officer should file a report – and this should satisfy your reporting obligations. But, if no officers respond or if the responding officer does not prepare a report for any reason, then you will need to file a report yourself.
- Reporting the Accident to the New York DMV – If you are involved in an accident that results in injury, death, or more than $1,000 in property damage, you must also report the accident to the New York DMV. You are required to file this report within 10 days. If you are not sure whether anyone was injured or how much damage the accident caused, it is better to be safe than sorry.
- You can contact a lawyer for advice if you aren’t sure whether you need to file a report with the DMV.
In addition to complying with New York law, you must also comply with the terms of your auto insurance policy. Insurance companies typically require their insureds to report all accidents. If you haven’t reported the accident to your insurance company, you won’t face civil or criminal penalties, but your insurance company might try to deny coverage for the accident.
What If You Did Not Report Your Car Accident on Time?
If you haven’t reported your accident to the police, the DMV, and/or your insurance company, what should you do? You still need to report your accident, but you may also need to be careful when doing so.
If you have waited too long to report your accident to the police or the DMV, you could face legal consequences. If you have waited too long to report your accident to your insurance company, you will want to do everything you can to make sure the insurer can’t use this against you.
With all of this in mind, it is a good idea to speak with a lawyer about your situation. An attorney can help you understand your obligations, your risks, and the options you have available. Your lawyer can also file one or more of the necessary accident reports on your behalf, working with the police, the DMV, and your insurance company to try to minimize (or avoid) any potential consequences of the delay in reporting.
How Reporting (or Not Reporting) a Car Accident Can Impact Your Insurance Claim
Under New York’s no-fault auto insurance law, seeking coverage for an accident starts (and potentially ends) with filing a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy. This means that you need to report the accident to your insurance company in order to obtain coverage. The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult it could become to secure the coverage you deserve.
Failing to report an accident to the police or the DMV can also potentially complicate your insurance claim, though it should not ultimately prevent you from securing coverage. This is because reporting your accident creates an official record that can help prove how, where, and when the accident occurred.
However, there are other ways to prove these facts as well. Even if you did not file a report with the police or the DMV on time, an experienced New York car accident lawyer can still help you seek just compensation.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today
The aftermath of a car accident is often overwhelming. People who have been injured in a crash often face a number of obligations they are ill-prepared to meet.
For this reason, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after a motor vehicle collision. A knowledgeable attorney can help you protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.
Please call O’Connor & Partners, PLLC at (845) 303-8777 today for a free consultation. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Kingston, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and other areas of New York.