How to File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

If you’ve been in a car accident, filing a police report is crucial in protecting your rights and ensuring proper documentation of the incident. 

To file a police report after a car accident, you should call the police immediately and provide them with accurate and detailed information about the accident. Once the police arrive, they will gather information from all parties involved and file a report. Be sure to obtain a copy of the report for your records, as it will be helpful when filing an insurance claim.

Minor accidents may not require a car accident police report. Still, it’s always a good idea to contact the police to ensure proper documentation and protection of your rights. If you’re still unsure about the report process, feel free to consult a Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, lawyer at 917-540-8728 for a free and confidential case review.

What Are the Steps to File an Accident Report?

Even if you drive cautiously, unexpected car accidents can leave you shaken. The moments right after the accident can be a whirlwind, leaving you unsure where to start.

Therefore, here is a step-by-step guide to walk you through, making sure you’re ready if you ever find yourself in such a situation:

Step 1: Call 911 Immediately

When it comes to filing a police report, timing is critical. The first action you should take after a car accident is to dial 911. Inform the law enforcement department about the accident, and they’ll send a police officer. 

Remember, do not leave the scene before speaking with the police officer. This step is particularly significant if you’ve sustained injuries, as the police report serves as valuable evidence in calculating your compensation amount.

Step 2: Answer Questions Thoroughly

Once the responding officers arrive, they’ll gather essential information from all parties involved. It includes driver statements, vehicle damages, witness contacts, injuries observed, and a diagram of the auto accident scene. The report requires all this information, even if it is a minor car accident, and the officer will compile these details.

Step 3: Leave Filing to the Police Officer

Rest assured, you don’t need to worry about extra paperwork. The law enforcement officer will use the gathered information to create the report. This approach ensures compliance with state laws regarding police reports, saving you from unnecessary hassle.

Step 4: Obtain a Copy of the Report

After the police file the crash report, you can acquire a copy online or through mail. This document can be a necessary piece of evidence if you’re pursuing fair compensation for your medical bills and other property damage.

What Is the Purpose of a Police Report?

The purpose of a police car accident report extends far beyond being a mere record. It’s a powerful tool that holds substantial weight in your car accident claim. This report, created by a law enforcement officer at the accident scene, is a detailed account of the incident.

In simple terms, the police report acts as an objective witness. It captures essential information about the accident, including specific crash details, statements from drivers and parties involved, and witness accounts. 

This compilation of facts helps insurers and legal authorities assess the extent of damage, determine who’s at fault, and navigate the complex landscape of your insurance claim and legal action. It can significantly impact your car insurance claim and legal proceedings, making it essential to safeguard your rights and ensure a neutral account of the accident scene.

When to File a Police Report?

Serious car crashes demand immediate attention from law enforcement and emergency medical services. If an accident leads to injuries, fatalities, property damage, traffic obstructions, drunk driving involvement, or road debris, law enforcement and medical teams will promptly arrive at the scene. A police officer will then compile an accident report, documenting the incident’s details.

Whereas, when it comes to minor collisions, like a fender bender, law enforcement might not always respond. In such cases, it’s essential to take action on your own. Ensure the incident is officially recorded by reporting it immediately within 24 hours of the accident.

Moreover, in New York State, there are specific reporting requirements. If an accident causes injury, death, or damages exceeding $1,000 to any person’s property, including your own. In such a case, Section 605 of the NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law mandates you to submit an accident report within ten days of the incident.

Taking this obligation seriously is crucial because if you don’t comply with reporting requirements, you could face suspension of your driver’s license until you submit the report. Therefore, submitting the accident report within ten days of the incident is paramount in upholding your legal responsibilities and avoiding any potential legal consequences.

What Information Is Included in a Police Report?

An accident report, carefully compiled by a police officer, encompasses essential details that shape the aftermath of a car accident. Here’s what you can expect to find within its pages:

Accurate Timestamp: The report commences with the exact date and time of the accident, providing a clear timeline of events.

Visual Insight: A diagram of the accident scene is included, offering a visual representation of how the incident happened.

Location Details: The report describes where the accident occurred, helping establish the scene’s context.

Environmental Factors: The report notes fundamental information regarding visibility and weather conditions. It documents rain, fog, snow, and darkness, providing insight into the environmental conditions during the accident.

Involved Parties’ Information: Personal details, insurance information, and statements from all parties are carefully recorded. This information is pivotal for insurers and legal authorities in determining fault.

Witness Contributions: The report captures witness statements and their contact information. These eyewitness insights provide an additional layer of information about the incident.

Remember, it’s highly recommended to note the police officer’s name and badge number. This information can be handy, and you may need it to follow up later.

How Can a Police Report Influence Your Car Accident Claim?

For personal injury claims, police reports carry significant influence. Unlike insurance adjusters, police officers are physically present at the accident scene. Their specialized training equips them to conduct a reliable assessment of the accident and its root causes, including determining the fault of each driver.

While claim adjusters can hold differing views from police officers, such instances are rare. However, if an adjuster’s assessment clashes with the officer’s report and the case progresses to court, it’s important to note that most juries tend to side with the officer’s evaluation. The credibility of a police officer’s testimony carries considerable weight with a jury, creating a sense of trustworthiness.

Do I Need a Police Report for No-Fault Benefits in NYC?

Yes, obtaining no-fault benefits in New York City (NYC) often requires a police report. In NYC, despite the no-fault system, which doesn’t hinge on assigning fault for insurance coverage, having a police report is a common prerequisite.

Insurance providers in the city typically request a copy of the police report as part of the claims process. If you fail to file one, your right to no-fault benefits is likely to be denied. Therefore, if you are in an auto accident situation in NYC, promptly file a police report within 10 days of the accident to facilitate the smooth processing of your no-fault benefits.

How to Handle Injuries After a Car Accident When Police Report Says You Were Not Injured?

If the police report from an auto accident indicates that you weren’t injured, despite your current experience of injuries, it’s essential to take specific steps. Look for the “Injury” box next to your name on the report, marked with letters O, A, B, C, or K. “O” suggests the officer didn’t observe signs of injury, and you didn’t mention being hurt. “C” means you reported pain, but no visible injuries were noted.

In many cases, individuals listed as “O” or “C” have later revealed serious injuries. Police officers, while trained, might not catch every detail in the immediate aftermath. The adrenaline rush and emotional distress at the scene can also mask injuries that become apparent later.

Injuries might not manifest immediately; some take time to develop. If you’re concerned that the initial report doesn’t reflect the extent of your injuries and that you may need extensive medical care, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney specializing in automobile negligence cases. 

Furthermore, insurance companies may use the report to dispute the necessity of treatment, and your claim for pain and suffering could be at risk without evidence of a “serious” injury. Seeking legal advice can help you navigate these complexities and ensure your rights are protected.

What Happens if I Do Not Report a Car Accident to the Police?

If you do not report a car accident to the police, you may face serious consequences. It is essential to understand when a police report is required and when it isn’t. 

If you are involved in an accident where the law mandates a police report, it is crucial to file one. However, if the situation does not require a report, you should exchange information with the other parties involved.

Leaving the accident scene without filing a police report or exchanging information can result in severe penalties, especially in hit-and-run cases. Depending on the seriousness of the accident, you could face hefty fines of up to $10,000 or even imprisonment for up to 15 years.

Therefore, following your legal obligations after an accident is essential to avoid any potential legal problems. If you are unsure whether you should file a police report, it is always best to consult with an auto accident attorney to get guidance on the right course of action.

Need Legal Help After a Car Accident? Reach Out to Uptown Injury Today!

For over 15 years, the dedicated car accident lawyers of Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, have been tirelessly fighting for the rights of victims across the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, and the New York City Metro Area. We understand the physical, emotional, and financial strain that comes with being an accident victim, and we’re here to help you get the compensation you deserve. To schedule a FREE consultation and learn more about our successful track record securing settlements over $100 million, contact us online or call our office toll-free at 917-540-8728. Remember, we work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay unless we secure your settlement.


When Should I File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

You should file a police report after a car accident if there are severe injuries and property damage or if the other party involved is uncooperative. Additionally, file a report if there is suspicion of criminal activity, such as drunk driving. Timely reporting ensures an accurate record for insurance claims and legal purposes. Therefore, you should file a police report within 24 hours of the accident.

Is It Necessary to Call the Police for Minor Accidents?

While not mandatory, it’s advisable to call the police for minor accidents involving injuries, disputes over fault, or vehicle damage. Police reports provide an official record of a strong case. When in doubt, involving law enforcement can help establish the facts and protect your rights.

What Information Should I Provide to the Police Officer?

When interacting with a police officer, you should provide your name, identification, and other requested information, such as your address or phone number. It’s essential to remain calm and polite during the encounter. You can contact your lawyer to help you deal with police interactions.

Can I File a Police Report After Leaving the Accident Scene?

It is important to report the accident within 24 hours. Leaving the scene without reporting may result in legal consequences. Contact the local authorities as soon as possible to provide accurate information and ensure a proper investigation. However, if that’s not feasible, promptly report the accident to the nearest police station.

How Does the Police Report Affect Insurance Claims?

The police report greatly influences insurance claims by providing an official account of the incident, helping to determine fault. Furthermore, insurance companies rely on this document to process claims efficiently. A well-documented and accurate police report can ease the claims process and impact the outcome of insurance settlements.

Can I Get a Copy of the Police Report Later?

Yes. You can get a copy of the police report by contacting the law enforcement agency involved in the incident. Provide your case details and personal information for proper identification. Most agencies have different procedures, such as online or by mail. Thus, they may require a formal request or a small fee to get a copy of the accident report.

What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Want to Involve the Police?

If you are involved in a car accident, and the other driver doesn’t want to involve the police, it is always recommended that you call them. Even if the other driver is reluctant, it’s essential to have a police report filed in case any legal issues come up. Additionally, having a police report can help your insurance claim and provide evidence for any necessary legal action.

Does the Police Report Determine Fault in the Accident?

The police report is used as evidence in determining fault in an accident, but it does not necessarily determine fault. The report typically includes information such as the location and time of the accident, the parties involved, and any statements made by witnesses.

Are There Different Reporting Requirements in Different States?

Yes, reporting requirements vary by state. Therefore, familiarize yourself with your state’s regulations to ensure compliance, or contact an experienced car accident attorney. For instance, in New York, if your accident causes property damage of less than $1000, you only need to exchange information with the other motorists.
However, if the accident results in over $1,000 in vehicle damage or causes serious injury, it is mandatory to report it to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days. Failing to do so may lead to the suspension of your driver’s license.


Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

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