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How Do Police Investigations of Fatal Car Accidents Work in Manhattan, NY?

Posted in Car Accidents on June 1, 2022

How Do Police Investigations of Fatal Car Accidents Work in Manhattan, NY?

New York City has hundreds of fatal accidents every year. According to the NYPD, in 2022, the city had already experienced 87 accidents by the end of April. Of those, 17 occurred in the borough of Manhattan.

Every one of those fatal accidents was investigated by the police. And every one of those investigations resulted in an accident report being filed by the police.

Where Are Fatal Car Accident Reports Stored?

When a police officer files a motor vehicle collision report, it is filed with the precinct where the accident occurred. That precinct keeps the report on file for 30 days.

After that, reports are forwarded to the New York State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) then maintains a permanent copy of the report.

Can You Get a Copy of a Motor Vehicle Collision Report?

During the first 30 days after the report is filed, you can request the report directly from the appropriate precinct. You can do this in person or through the mail. After that time, you need to mail form MV-198C to the DMV to receive the report.

How Is the Report Created?

Shortly after a fatal accident is reported to the authorities, a police officer will arrive on the scene to investigate the accident. The investigating officer will begin by observing the scene. These initial observations help direct the later investigation and ensure that anyone in need of help gets it as quickly as possible.

Once everyone has received medical attention and is no longer in danger, the officer will interview the drivers and all available witnesses. Because memories fade quickly, the officer will try to take all statements as quickly as possible, preferably recording them when possible.

The officer may also interview medical professionals who treated people in the accident or may simply request a copy of the medical report at a later time.

In addition to witness statements, all other evidence in a fatal accident must be recorded. This includes:

  • Measurements of vehicle damage
  • Weather conditions at the time of the accident
  • Traffic conditions at the time of the accident
  • The presence of alcohol or drugs at the scene
  • Location of damaged vehicles and property

All of this is contributing evidence that the officer uses to determine fault and criminality in the accident. Regardless of whether either of the drivers was criminally liable for the accident, this evidence and the determination must be included in the final report.

How Long Does It Take to File a Report?

Accident reports should be filed within ten days of an accident. However, the actual time it takes can fluctuate significantly depending on the circumstances of the accident.

A relatively uncomplicated accident could be filed within hours if the officer has the time to write and file it. On the other hand, an extremely complex accident might not even be fully investigated within ten days.

If you are trying to get a report, even if it isn’t complete, the precinct of the investigating officer can give you an estimate on when it will be complete.

Who Needs an Accident Report?

Accident reports are public information, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs that information.

If you were involved in a car accident or a family member died in an accident, you have a good reason to request the report. You don’t need to make the request yourself. If you have hired a lawyer to represent you, your lawyer can request the accident report to better help in any lawsuit involving the accident.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in New York, NY

If you need legal assistance, contact the New York City car accident lawyers at Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation.

We have two convenient locations in New York:

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – New York City Office
450 7th Ave #409
New York, NY 10123
(212) 564-2800

Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers – Brooklyn Office
26 Court St Suite 2511
Brooklyn, NY 11242
(718) 802-1600