What Happens If You Don’t File a Report After a Car Accident?

by William Mattar | October 2nd, 2020

If you have been in a recent car accident, it can be a frightening time. Even if you don’t suffer any injuries or end up in the hospital, a car accident can affect how you drive and your comfort level on the road. Aside from that, you have now got a few new things on your plate.

First, you might need to get a health checkup to see the extent of any injuries. You’ll also need to contact your insurance to start the process of fixing your busted vehicle.

Contacting the police after a car accident

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, the responsibilities of involved motorists to file a motorist accident report depends on the particular circumstances. According to the DMV, if the accident caused property damage only the drivers must exchange certain information (license, insurance, and registration) with other involved drivers. If a parked vehicle or other property is damaged or if a domestic animal is injured, the motorist must locate the owner or contact the police. If the property damage of any person is $1,000 or more, all the involved drivers are required by the NYS DMV to file a report of motor vehicle accident, also known as an MV-104. If a person is injured or killed, the police must be immediately notified and all involved drivers and the police must file an accident report with the DMV.

Injuries after from a car accident can sometimes be difficult to detect. However, just because there are no apparent injuries does not mean underlying injuries cannot lie dormant. Serious injuries, such as a debilitating concussion, or a tricky neck or back issue, can manifest long after the impact of the collision is felt. Even small fender-benders can lead to a significant injury, which may not be fully realized until weeks, months, or even years later.

Furthermore, when you look at the cars themselves, $1,000 doesn’t go very far when it comes to repairs. Just a tap on the bumper or the side panels could cause thousands of dollars of damage, especially with more modern cars that are loaded with expensive sensors, gizmos and plastic parts.

Because it’s hard to estimate property damage or assess physical harm at the scene of the accident, in most circumstances it is a good idea to file an accident report. Drivers are also required to exchange information — driver’s license number, vehicle registration, insurance — at the scene.

What happens if you don’t report a car accident to the police?

Depending on the nature of the accident and whether harm has come to property or person, as set forth above, a failure to report can lead to criminal charges and license suspension. Under these circumstances, it is important to follow the Vehicle and Traffic Law after a car accident.

What happens if there is no police report for a car accident?

If there’s no police report on file for a recent car accident, you’ll also lose your ability to go through insurance to help pay for any damages. That’s because your insurance company will likely dispute the claim if the accident lacks a police report. Instead, it’s better to file the police report and then work things out with your insurance.

That said, even if it’s a serious accident and the police respond and file their own report, you’re still required by law to file a car accident report of your own within 10 days.

How to report an accident

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles Report of Motor Vehicle Accident form requires involved motorists to provide certain information including but not limited to the driver license ID numbers, names, addresses, descriptions of vehicle damage, estimated cost of property damage, and the location of the accident.

Making an insurance claim

After your car accident, you may want to obtain a copy of the police accident report so that you can make an insurance claim. According to its website, the DMV keeps accident reports for four years from the date of an accident, except for rare cases.

Ordering a police report of a car accident

To request a copy of the police accident report you can go to the police precinct that has jurisdiction over where the accident happened, or you can conduct an online transaction with the DMV. You’ll have to pay a small search fee and pay for each report you’d like to obtain, and they can either be mailed or electronically downloaded.

To be eligible to order a police report, you have to have a valid reason for the report request. For example, you must be an involved party, or the authorized representative of a person who is, or who may be, a party to a civil action arising out of the conduct described in the report.

Talk to the attorneys at William Mattar Law Offices

If you’ve been in a recent car accident, you may be entitled to damages. Our focus is your advantage. Let us fight for you so that you can receive maximum compensation for personal injuries. We focus on helping people injured in motor vehicle accidents, and if you’ve been injured, we can help. Contact William Mattar law offices 24/7 through our contact form or by calling 444-4444.