How To Get an Accident Police Report

A close up of a traffic collision report. This portion of the report has boxes indicating if there was a hit and run involved.
Posted: March 7, 2024

Section 1 of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles police instruction manual on submitting a crash report is 41 pages long. The whole manual, including appendices, is 99 pages. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, Section 605 of the Vehicle and Traffic Law requires all drivers involved in an accident where “a person is injured or killed” or “there is damage to the property of one individual (including yourself) in excess of more than $1,000” to file an accident report within 10 days from the date of the crash.  


After a motor vehicle crash, a responding officer may come to the scene and generate a police accident report. This police accident report can have important consequences in an ensuing personal injury case arising from the crash. First, the police accident report can help document that the crash happened and its approximate location. Second, the police accident report can identify involved parties, their addresses, and their insurance companies. Third, the police accident report may identify witnesses to the crash and their contact information. Fourth, it may include a narrative-like “Accident Description” where the responding officer may seek to describe how the incident occurred. This may include “Apparent Contributing Factors” such as driver/inattention or sun glare, usually denoted on the top right of the police accident report using a code system that is not always apparent to the involved motorists.  


It can take some time for the police accident report to be made available to involved motorists after a New York car crash. Once the responding officer and his or her supervisor have signed off, it will generally be made available to the involved motorists and their attorneys.  


Not all aspects of a police accident report will be admissible in a court of law where the rules of evidence apply. Under the New York rules of evidence, hearsay—an out of court statement used for the truth of the matter asserted—is generally not admissible. For an out of court statement of this nature to be admissible and available for review by the finder of fact (often a jury), it must qualify under an exception to the rule against hearsay. Otherwise, it is not admissible.  


Many times, insurance companies will make decisions based on what is in the police accident report, including a narrative provided by the responding officer. While this information is important and significant, it is not necessarily conclusive. If something in the police accident report is inadmissible hearsay, it should be taken with a grain of salt and should not necessarily dictate whether, for example, an insured is liable for a given crash. For example, assume that the responding officer—who did not witness the crash, but instead came on scene 15 minutes later—authored an accident description that attempts to describe, in detail, what precisely precipitated the crash. If the responding officer concludes that the injured person is completely at fault, an experienced New York personal injury attorney may be able to review the circumstances and prove otherwise. The responding officer’s conclusions may be inadmissible.  An experienced New York personal injury lawyer can review and analyze the police accident report in view of the rules of evidence.  


Requesting a report online 

Most police departments allow you to request a copy of an accident report online. 

The New York DMV also allows you to search, purchase, and immediately download a certified accident report online for a fee.  


Ordering a report by mail 

To order an accident report by mail, one can print and fill out a Request for Copy of Accident Report and send it to New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.  


Ordering a state police report 

Requests for New York State Police reports of accidents that occurred anywhere other than the Thruway can be made to DMV. 

Requests for state police reports of collisions on the Thruway and its subsidiary arterials can be made to the New York State Thruway Authority using this online form. 


Hurt in a Car? Call William Mattar. 

The process for requesting a police report can change at any given time, as policies and procedures are subject to change. If you were injured by a negligent driver and suffered physical injury through no fault of your own, contact William Mattar today at 844-noswap444-4444 to speak to one of our New York car accident attorneys. Or fill out our online form requesting a free case review. 

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