What Is the Process for Obtaining a Copy of the Accident Report?

law enforcement agencies create accident reports at the scene

To obtain a copy of the accident report, contact your local law enforcement department or the officer who created the report at the accident scene. It typically takes a few weeks for the officer to finalize the report after reviewing all the evidence from the accident.

If you have the police report number, you can consult the traffic division of the agency to request a copy of the accident report. This usually incurs a small fee, averaging around $15. Some cities may offer an online option for convenience.

If you don’t have the police report number, provide the agency with your accident date, time, location, and full name. They can help locate the report. Alternatively, check with your insurance company, as they may have obtained the police report already from law enforcement.

A lawyer can help speed up getting a copy of your accident report from the police, insurance company, or in person. Call Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, at 917-540-8728 for a free case review.

What is a Police Accident Report?

A police report is a written record created by a law enforcement officer who arrives at the car accident location. This report, created at the scene, contains all the information about the accident. The information includes statements from drivers, witnesses, and other important details observed by the officer. A police report plays a huge role in determining the extent of accident-related losses and liability.

What Information Does a Car Accident Police Report Contain?

A car accident police report usually contains the following information:

  • Facts about the car accident, including the people, property, and vehicles involved.
  • Identifying information about the parties involved, such as addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information.
  • Identifying information for any witnesses present.
  • The time, date, and location of the accident.
  • Details about the weather, road conditions, and visibility conditions at the scene.
  • Statements from drivers, passengers, and witnesses.
  • A diagram or drawing describing the car accident, including the location, path of the vehicles, and point of collision.
  • Descriptions of damage to the vehicles or people involved.
  • Any violations of the law or citations issued, if applicable.

In addition, this report may also include other findings or conclusions about how and why the accident occurred. Thus including the officer’s opinions regarding the cause of the collision and fault.

How Do You Obtain an Accident Report?

In a car collision, once you’ve ensured the safety of yourself and others involved, promptly dial 911 to request police assistance. Following your call, the police department dispatched an officer to the scene to conduct a thorough investigation. Upon arrival, the officer examines the accident site and collects all relevant evidence.

The investigative process involves a careful analysis of the scene, witness statements, and any available surveillance footage. During this period, the police officer reviews all gathered information and ensures the report is thorough and accurate. 

Once finalized, the accident report will be made available to you, providing details of the accident. This document serves as a crucial record for insurance claims, legal proceedings, and overall clarity regarding the incident.

However, it’s important to note that the creation of the accident report is a meticulous task that may take a few weeks to complete.

You have to make sure that you’re not allowed to communicate with the police, but you can share your side of the story if necessary. Thus, before the police officer leaves the scene, ensure to note down the following information:

  1. Full name of the police officer.
  2. The badge number of the police officer.
  3. If available, the accident report number.

How to Get a Copy of the Car Accident Police Report?

Depending on how you prefer to get your car accident report, you have the following options to consider:

1. Getting Accident Report Online From the NYPD

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) guides that you can access your car accident report through the Collision Report Retrieval Portal. To do this, you’ll need to provide specific information about your accident, such as:

  • Date of the accident
  • Location of the car crash
  • Your personal details like driver’s license number and plate number

Remember that your report may not be immediately accessible through this online portal. The NYPD advises that it might take up to seven days for your report to become available.

2. Seeking the Report In-person or by Mail From NYPD

If you prefer a physical copy of the report and want to visit your local law enforcement office, the NYPD recommends completing two copies of a Request for Copy of Collision Record form. You can locate the police station where the accident occurred using the NYPD’s online precinct map.

The information you’ll need to provide on this form is similar to what’s required in the online retrieval portal. Thus including details about the date and location of the crash and driver information. Moreover, if you’d like to receive your car accident police report by mail, you can send two copies of this form to the precinct where the accident occurred.

Your crash report will be available in 30 days at the local precinct in New York City. After these 30 days, you’ll need to go through the Department of Motor Vehicles to access the report. This involves different procedures.

3. Getting Your Accident Report Online From the DMV

If you’re in an accident in New York or any other location, you can easily request a copy of your accident report online. To initiate the process, visit the designated online portal and provide the necessary information to check the DMV records for your accident report. The initial search is complimentary. However, if you locate your report, certain fees apply $7 for the search and $10 for ordering by mail. Furthermore, an additional $15 per report for online orders. 

If you want to request a copy of the police report by mail, you must first download and complete the form MV-198C (Request for Copy of Accident Report).  

It’s essential to be aware that the DMV retains accident reports for 4 years. If you opt to purchase your accident report online, you’ll have a 7-day window to access it. After this period, a repurchase is necessary. You’ll need your email address and the report confirmation number to do so. The DMV provides the report confirmation number during the report purchase transaction and displays it to you in the transaction confirmation email.

In cases you encounter difficulties downloading your accident reports, it’s advisable to use an updated web browser and ensure that your operating system is functioning properly.

When Do Accident Reports Become Available in DMV Records?

It usually takes 14-16 days to make available your accident reports in DMV records for you to check and download. This time can vary based on where the accident occurred and who filed the accident report, such as a police officer or a motorist.

If you have filed your accident report electronically in one of the 5 boroughs of New York City then reports enter in the system at least 14 days after the accident. Similarly, if the paper police accident report is filed, then it will take at least 30 days to be entered into the DMV system. Conversely, if the motorist files an accident report anywhere from New York City, it will take at least 60 days to enter into the DMV system.

vehicles involved in a car accident

What’s the Purpose of a Car Accident Report?

The purpose of a car accident report is to provide a detailed and accurate account of your car crash. When you’re involved in a car accident, completing a thorough accident report is crucial. 

Firstly, it serves as an official record that documents the details of the incident. This includes the date, time, location, names, and contact information of the other parties involved. Accident report becomes invaluable for insurance claims, legal proceedings, and law enforcement investigations.

Additionally, a well-documented accident report helps establish the events leading up to the collision. Thus helping in fault determination. Therefore, taking the time to complete a car accident report is a legal requirement. Also, it’s a responsible and proactive step toward maintaining a safe driving environment for everyone.

What if You Fail to Report Your Accident?

In New York, it’s crucial to report any car collision to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or police. If the accident involves only property damage, you can skip reporting to the police. But you must exchange information like names, insurance details, and vehicle registration with other motorists. For insurance purposes, file an accident report with the DMV. Find the form online at or visit your local police station in your area.

Remember, if the property damage exceeds $1000, report it to the DMV within 10 days of the accident. Failure to report your accident is a misdemeanor (criminal offense) and can lead to driver’s license suspension.

How Can Car Accident Police Report Help You?

Your insurance company uses this report to understand what happened and assess the damage to your vehicle. Based on this information, the insurance adjuster determines who is responsible for the accident and estimates the value of your car accident settlement claim.

However, remember that regardless of what the police officer may write in the police report, an insurance company forms its own conclusions about the auto accident.

Be sure to thoroughly review the document to confirm the accuracy of statements and facts. If you come across any inaccuracies, feel free to get in touch with the investigating officer to request corrections.

Can Police Reports Be Used as Evidence in Court?

Police reports may serve as evidence in a car accident lawsuit, but the admissibility depends on various factors, including your jurisdiction and the court level. In small claims courts, police reports are generally accepted as evidence. 

If your case goes to a higher court, they follow stricter rules regarding evidence. This means that some information gathered from statements made outside the court, known as “hearsay” evidence, might not be considered.

Certain jurisdictions have exceptions to the hearsay rule, allowing you to use some or all of the police report as evidence. In other cases, police reports may be considered “public records” or “business records” and be fully admissible.

To understand whether a car accident police report can be used as evidence in your case, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer in your area who can provide legal guidance.

Contact Uptown Injury Car Accident Lawyer in NY Today!

When the unexpected happens on the road, Uptown Injury Law, PLLC, is here to ensure your car accident claim is on the fast track to success. Our dedicated team of car accident lawyers is committed to helping you expedite your claim process while maximizing your compensation. With over 15 years of expertise in managing car accident cases, we’ve secured settlements and verdicts totaling $100 million. Explore our trust index, where we boast a 5-star rating reflecting high client satisfaction.

We understand that navigating the complexities of car accident claims can be overwhelming. That’s why our experienced attorneys will handle all the paperwork, investigations, and negotiations with the insurance agent on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery.

What’s more, our client-focused approach means you don’t have to worry about upfront costs. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means you only pay us when we win your case. Contact us at 917-540-8728, and schedule a free consultation with our lawyer. 


When Should I Request the Accident Report?

It’s best to request the report as soon as possible after the accident. However, you can typically access it within 30 days at your local precinct. After 30 days, you may need to request the accident report from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

What Information Does the Accident Report Include?

An accident report typically includes essential details such as the date, time, and location of the incident. It outlines the parties involved, their contact information, and any witnesses present. Additionally, the report provides a description of the events leading to the accident and may include contributing factors, injuries sustained, and damages incurred.

Is There a Fee for Obtaining the Accident Report Copy?

Yes, there is usually a fee to obtain the accident report, ranging from $22 to $25 when requested online. This fee is divided into two components: a search fee and a report fee. For example, if you opt for online retrieval through the DMV New York, the search fee amounts to $7, while the fee for mail requests is $10. Additionally, a charge of $15 is applicable for downloading the report.

Can I Obtain the Report if I’m Not at Fault for the Accident?

Yes, if you are not at fault for the accident, it is crucial to obtain a detailed accident report to support your case. Contact the local law enforcement department that responded to the incident and request a copy of the report. Additionally, gather any relevant evidence, such as witness statements and photos, to strengthen your position in resolving the matter.

How Long Does It Take To Receive the Accident Report?

The time it takes to receive your accident report can vary depending on how you request it. If you opt for an online request, the report might take up to seven days to become accessible. On the other hand, if you go to the police precinct in person, you can typically get it right away. However, if you choose to request the report by mail, it may take longer to arrive.


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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