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Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in New York?

Posted in Car Accidents on June 21, 2021

Are Car Accident Reports Public Record in New York?

New York car accident reports are made available to the public after a brief holding period of up to 60-days. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), it keeps records of car accident reports from police officers and motorists for four years from the car crash date. Individuals and parties can order copies of the car accident report directly from the DMV. Copies of the report may also be obtained from the law enforcement agency that investigated the car accident.

How Do I Get a Copy of a New York Car Accident Report?

There are several ways to obtain a copy of a car accident report in New York. The quickest and easiest way is to purchase a copy of the report online. There is a $7 search fee and a $15 report fee for each car accident report.

You may also request a copy of a crash report by mail. The search fee for mail orders is $10, plus the $15 report fee for each car accident report. You must complete the Request for Copy of Accident report and send it with the fee.

Car accident reports could take between 14 to 60 days after the date of the accident to become available through the DMV website.

If your accident occurred in New York City, you could request a copy of the police collision report online through the Collision Report Retrieval Portal. However, these reports are only available through the portal for 30 days after the accident. After 30 days, you must request copies of crash reports from the New York DMV.

For accidents investigated by the New York State Police that occurred on the NYS Thruway, you can request copies of the crash reports from the New York State Police (Troop T). For crashes on all other roads, request a copy of the crash report from the DMV.

Of course, if you hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your car accident case, the lawyer obtains a copy of the crash report. You may ask your attorney to give you a copy of the car accident report for your records.

Why Should I Have a Car Accident Report for My Records?

It is wise to have a copy of the accident report for your records—even if you were not injured in the crash or settled the car accident claim with the insurance company.  A car accident report provides details of the accident that you might need to recall years later.

For example, if you sell your vehicle, you may be asked if the car was ever in an accident. The car accident report provides the date and location of the car crash. Also, if you are injured in another car accident or personal injury accident, you need to disclose that you were in a previous car wreck to your injury lawyer.

You may also want to keep a copy of the car accident report with the records for your vehicle and the records related to your personal injury claim.

Is the Car Accident Report Proof of Fault for the Cause of the Crash?

Unless a police officer sees the crash as it occurs, they are not an eyewitness. Therefore, the officer only assigns fault for the crash based on the information they gather at the accident scene. In some cases, a police officer could be wrong about which driver contributed to the cause of an accident.

An insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to investigate the cause of the crash. If the adjuster believes that you were responsible for the cause of the crash, your injury claim will be denied. Suppose the adjuster believes that your actions contributed to the cause of the car accident. In that case, the insurance company will decrease the value of your damages based on New York’s contributory negligence laws.

Contacting a car accident lawyer may be the best way for you to protect your right to fair compensation for injuries and damages. A lawyer investigates the accident to gather evidence that proves how the car wreck occurred. The attorney may retain an accident reconstructionist or other professional to assist with the investigation.

You are only entitled to compensation for damages if the other driver was at fault. Therefore, proving fault is a crucial element of a personal injury case. If you cannot prove causation, you cannot prove negligence.

The steps you take after an automobile accident can help or hurt your case. For example, apologizing for an accident could hurt your case because the insurance company will argue you were admitting fault for the crash.

Delays in medical care could hurt your case because it gives the insurance company a reason to argue the crash did not cause your injuries. Also, meeting with a personal injury attorney before talking to the insurance claims adjuster can help you avoid other mistakes that could hurt your case.

However, seeking prompt medical attention, documenting your injuries, and seeking legal advice improves your chance of receiving the outcome you desire.

To learn more, call one of our convenient locations nearest you for assistance.

New York City law office at (212) 564-2800,
Brooklyn law office at (718) 802-1600.

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