After a vehicle accident, drivers are required to report to the police what happened. A police report provides documentation to insurers and the courts about your crash, and it helps tell car accident lawyers whether or not you have a case.
Also, New York drivers also must file a separate report within 10 days to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles if their accident meets certain requirements. In NYC, this document is just as important for your case, and there are significant penalties if you don’t file.
Contacting the Police After a Car Accident in NYC
Once you’ve been in a car accident, the first task is to help the injured. Calling 911 will summon paramedics and the police to the scene. The police will question all the involved drivers about what happened and issue any citation for the crash.
If your injuries permit, exchange all required information with the police and the other driver. You will need this information when you speak to your insurance company and fill out the report for the DMV. This information includes:
- License numbers
- Phone numbers
- Insurance company information
When you speak to the police, be honest and factual about what you experienced. Do not embellish, and do not take the blame onto yourself. This can jeopardize your chances of getting compensation in a lawsuit.
When Must I File a Police Report?
If there was only property damage to your vehicle, you are not required to contact the police to file a police report. However, you still need to exchange information with the other drivers and fill out a report to the DMV.
You also must contact the police if you hit property and the owner cannot be located. For example, if you hit a parked car and can’t find the owner, you cannot leave a note like in some states. You must call the police to create a report.
If you hit a domestic animal, you are also required to report it to the police, even if you and your car are undamaged.
What are the Penalties if I Don’t Report to the Police?
If you’re in a property damage accident with no injuries and do not report, you face up to 15 days in jail, a $250 fine, or both.
If you’re in an accident involving personal injury and do not report to the police, your fine rises to $500-$1000, and you could face up to a year in jail. This is a Class A misdemeanor.
If the injuries meet the serious injury threshold or there is a death, you face felony charges. Your fine rises to $1000-$2500, and you could face up to four years in prison.
Getting a Copy of the Motor Vehicle Collision Report
To get a copy of the report, you can use the Collision Report Retrieval Portal. It may take up to seven business days for your report to appear in the portal. Reports are available for thirty days in this system before they are moved to the DMV.
After that date, you will need to file form MV-198C with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to get a copy of the report. There is a $25 fee to get one copy of the report, plus $15 for each additional copy, so it’s best to pull your report from the portal if you can.
This report will give you and your lawyer the officer’s perspective of your accident. Yet this is only one of the forms you’ll need for your case. You make the second when you report to the DMV.
You Must Fill Out Form MV-104
Form MV-104 is a self-report of what happened at your accident. You must fill this out within 10 days of an injury accident or if an accident caused more than $1000 in property damage. If you do not do this, the DMV will suspend or revoke your license.
If your injuries prevent you from filling out the form, the responsibility for filling out the form falls to any passengers that were in your vehicle. If you let someone else drive your car and they got into a crash, the owner will need to fill out the report if the driver cannot do it.
It’s a good idea to fill out this form for all accidents just so the DMV doesn’t suspend your license. Driving on a suspended license and getting caught can put you in a lot of legal hot water. Better to err on the side of caution.
What Is Needed to Fill Out Form MV-104?
You need the following information to complete Form MV-104:
- Info from your driver’s license
- Vehicle registration information
- Where the accident happened
- A description of the damage to the vehicle
- The names of all passengers
- Details of all the injuries
- Your insurance information
The form will also ask you for information about the details of the accident, like which direction you were traveling, the type of accident, the weather, and more. It is a two-page form, but it’s a fairly complicated form.
Once you’ve completed the form, print it off and mail it to the address at the bottom of page 2 before the 10-day period expires. If your license gets suspended, the DMV should reinstate it once it has processed Form MV-104.
Does This Form Also Help My Case?
Form MV-104 is more than just a legal hurdle after an accident. It can help your case should you need to go to trial. Getting the perspective of both drivers and the police can help personal injury lawyers and insurers know who is at fault for an accident should your case qualify for a lawsuit.
Your insurance company may also require the form before they process your personal injury protection payment.