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Posted in Car Accidents on September 8, 2021
If you were involved in a major car accident in New York City, you might naturally understand that reporting the accident to law enforcement is necessary. However, in the case of a seemingly minor accident, you might wonder whether you should bother calling 911.
It’s important to understand your responsibilities in these circumstances. New York has specific laws regarding when car accidents must be reported. Familiarizing yourself with those laws will help you avoid legal trouble if you ever are involved in a collision.
Additionally, properly reporting an accident to the police may help improve your chances of receiving fair compensation after an accident should you choose to pursue it.
New York State law requires drivers to report car accidents within 10 days when any of the following apply:
It’s best to err on the side of caution and alway report an accident. Only in the case of exceptionally minor accidents may it be acceptable to not file a report.
Other individuals involved in the accident may try to persuade you not to call the police in the aftermath of a collision. They might do so if they have reason to fear they will face legal consequences if the police investigate the accident. For example, they might be mildly intoxicated, and thus do not want law enforcement to be at the scene.
Don’t listen to them. You should remain calm and avoid being confrontational when interacting with other people involved in your accident, while also not allowing them to convince you an accident doesn’t need to be reported. Without drawing too much attention to yourself, you should also consider taking a picture of their license plate (you can justify this by mentioning you’re just taking pictures of the scene to properly document it) in case they decide to flee the scene before police arrive.
You also don’t need to know the number of the local police office or precinct to report a collision. You can instead call 911. The dispatcher will send an officer from the applicable precinct or office to the scene.
Refrain from making comments indicating you may have caused the accident as you wait for the officer to arrive. When they do show up, answer their questions honestly and calmly. It’s also a good idea to get the names and contact information of any witnesses at the scene.
See a doctor right away once the officer permits you to leave the scene. This is an important step to take regardless of whether you believe you have sustained injuries. Sometimes, it’s not clear whether you’ve been injured in the immediate aftermath of an accident. You need a physician to evaluate your condition and determine if any treatment is necessary.
The primary reason you should report an accident is to fully comply with the law. Because it can be difficult to accurately determine the extent of the property damage resulting from an accident in its immediate aftermath, you should assume your accident is one that must be reported.
Filing a report could also improve your chances of recovering proper compensation in the future. New York is a no-fault state, which means you would first seek compensation after an accident by filing a claim to collect from your own insurance. However, if your injuries qualify as “serious” under New York law, you can pursue additional compensation by filing a claim or lawsuit to collect from the insurance of a negligent party who caused your accident.
You will need to provide evidence showing negligence was genuinely a factor in your accident in order to recover compensation. This may be easier to do if you can reference an accident report. Thus, if you are involved in a New York City car accident, calling 911 to report it is usually advisable.