How to Obtain an NYC Car Accident Police Report
Every year, there are over 300,000 New Yorkers who get into car accidents. Unfortunately, the aftermath often involves navigating a labyrinth of insurance policies, medical bills, and government websites seemingly designed by Rube Goldberg enthusiasts.
While filing more paperwork may seem to add stress to an already-upsetting situation, having an official NYC car accident police report can simplify the process for your New York car accident lawyer later on.
Let’s break down the necessary post-accident steps for a no fault accident in NY, so you’ll know when a police report is required and how to obtain a copy after the fact.
When a Police Report Isn’t Legally Required: Non-Injury Collisions
The accident is over, the dust has settled, and nobody was hurt. You might be one of the lucky ones, but you’ve likely still got a banged-up car and an insurance claim to face. Fortunately, you’re technically off the hook in one area—New York doesn’t require you to file a police report for a motor vehicle accident where no one (including pets) got hurt unless you can’t locate the owner of the damaged property.
That said, filing a police accident report has more benefits than just fulfilling a legal duty. (More about that below.)
Note: A police report is different from a car accident report to the New York DMV—which should be done within 10 days. This helps for insurance purposes, but it’s also required if more than $1,000 in damage has been done to anyone’s property.
When You Have to File a Police Report: Injury Collisions
If the crash involved injuries or fatalities, here are the steps you should take:
- Immediate Steps – Call 9-1-1 to request police officers and paramedics. Move your car to safety if you can. If you’re able to get out of the vehicle, check on the other driver, then take photos of the scene and record details as you wait for help.
- Filing the Police Report – If you’re not in immediate medical danger, your next priority will be filing the police report. Law enforcement officers respond to these situations every day and can walk through everything they need to know. Share the photos you’ve taken and the details you’ve recorded. Remember to record info for yourself, too, including the names and badge numbers of the police officers you’re speaking to.
- Seeking Medical Attention – Remember that the adrenaline rush might prevent you from feeling the injuries you’ve sustained. Even if you feel okay, the hospital should be your next stop. This is important for both your health and for your insurance report, which will benefit from showing that you sought attention immediately. And don’t downplay your injuries to the police officer; be honest about your concerns.
While all these actions are valuable, your first priority should be safety. If taking any of these steps would worsen your injuries, stay patient and wait for help.
See related: Rules of the Road for NYC Drivers
Filing a Police Report When You Don’t Have To (But Should)
Despite police reports not always being required, it’s a good idea to file a report after any accident. Having a police report that details the events can have a few benefits:
- It could speed up the process of your insurance claim
- Your motor vehicle might be more damaged than you initially thought
- You might be more medically injured than you initially thought
- The other party involved might be threatening you with an unfair lawsuit, and a police report could come in handy to prove your defense
When in doubt, call the police. Having an NYC car accident police report on file means there will be a written record that you, your attorneys, your insurance company, or anyone else in your corner can reference when needed. Also, be sure to check the average car accident settlement in NY to know what to expect.
Obtaining a Copy of Your Police Report
If you’ve filed a police report about a collision and end up needing it later, you can retrieve a copy from the New York Police Department (NYPD). The Collision Report Retrieval Portal can help you find any car accident report taken by the New York Police Department (NYPD), going back to 2016. Note that it can take up to a week after your accident for the report to show up in the portal.
You can also go in person to the precinct where the accident occurred and request a copy of the NYPD accident report. First, you’ll need to fill out two copies of the “Request for Copy of Collision Record” form (available at nyc.gov) and take them with you to the station. You can also mail in the forms if you’re no longer in New York City.
After 30 days, the accident reports will no longer be held at the precinct, so you’ll have to either use the portal or request a copy from the New York DMV.
Put Your Accident Behind You with Mighty
Car accidents are disorienting, but the aftermath doesn’t have to be. Having a police report on file can help everything go a little smoother, from medical expenses to insurance claims to any future lawsuits.
Need help moving on? Head over to Mighty's Car Accident Attorney Directory to find a trusted attorney in your area today.
- Defensive Driving. “13 Things You Should do If You’re in a Car Accident.” https://www.defensivedriving.org/dmv-handbook/13-things-you-should-do-if-youre-in-a-car-accident/
- New York Department of Motor Vehicles. “If You Are in a Traffic Crash.” https://dmv.ny.gov/about-dmv/chapter-12-if-you-are-traffic-crash
- NYPD. “Non-Injury Vehicle Collisions.” https://www.nyc.gov/site/nypd/services/vehicles-property/non-injury-vehicle-collisions.page
- NYPD. “Motor Vehicle Collision Reports.” https://www.nyc.gov/site/nypd/services/vehicles-property/reports.page
- Progressive. “Can I file a car insurance claim without a police report?” https://www.progressive.com/answers/insurance-claim-without-police-report/
Written ByLuke Krolak
Client Operations Lead
About the author
Luke is a warm-hearted and highly skilled legal operations expert with an impressive 8-year track record in the personal injury field. As the Client Operations Lead at Mighty, he is dedicated to providing exceptional support, transparent communication, and genuine empathy to clients during their challenging journey. His expertise in streamlining processes and implementing cutting-edge technology makes him an indispensable ally for clients, case managers, and attorneys in their pursuit of justice.
About the reviewer