After most car accidents, police officers write and file a report. Although it is always advisable to get a report, how it will be used very much depends on the circumstances of your accident. For example: you likely know all the information that occurred during the accident if you stayed at the scene. If instead you were taken to a hospital for your injuries, then the report might have information previously unknown to you. Sometimes, however, New York law will require you to file a report. In a car accident where someone is injured, a police report can help establish liability in a personal injury claim. Keep reading to learn about when, why, and how New York obligates you to submit a police report. If you would like more information, don’t delay in contacting our Rockland County car accident lawyers.
Why Would I Need a Police Report After a Car Accident?
Police reports are useful to have for several reasons. The first reason is their use in a civil case for damages. The report serves to prove the accident did occur and that the defendant is actually involved. At the same time, even if you or the other parties involved don’t pursue a civil case, you may still require a police report to prove your damages to your insurance company.
New York is a “no-fault” state regarding insurance so it isn’t necessary to prove the other party was at fault to recover from an insurance company, but your insurance may not be willing to give you adequate coverage for your needs without this.
If you do end up choosing to pursue a claim, the report is helpful in even more ways. It will contain key identifying information, which in turn helps you get in touch with the defendant so you can meet the legal requirement of serving notice of the lawsuit you intend to file.
Police reports may also have information on witnesses, if the police spoke to people near the accident.
What Triggers the Need for a Police Report?
After you review the scene of the accident and check for injuries, you should call the police to your location. New York is among a number of states that give residents 10 days to file a police report, though New York law also says you need to call the police as soon as you are physically able.
You must file a police report if the accident resulted in property damage amounting to more than $500 in repair costs, bodily injuries, or death. You’ll also need to report the accident to the DMC before 10 days pass and to your insurance before 24 days pass. None of the agencies involved—the DMV, the courts, or your insurance provider—will communicate with each other without you. If you report the accident in place, you should not expect that entity to pass the information to the rest.
That is even more the case if you do decide to file a claim. For one, the court may wonder why you thought the accident was serious enough to warrant a lawsuit but not serious enough to warrant a call to the police. The police report is a key piece of evidence that can drastically improve your chances of winning a personal injury claim in the future. If you have additional questions or wish to file a claim for your injuries, please don’t hesitate to contact Mitchell J. Schroeder, P.C. today.