An accident report can be a crucial piece of evidence when it comes to seeking compensation after a motor vehicle accident. Filing an accident report can help illustrate liability, document the severity of injuries, and provide an account of overall damages sustained in a collision.
While insurance companies routinely obtain copies of accident reports to process insurance claims, New York drivers who are filing personal injury claims may also need to request copies of these reports to support their case. Accessing accident reports is not a complicated process. However, how you obtain these documents can differ based on where your accident took place, the type of officer who filed the report, and the format you require the report to be in.
What Is An Accident Report
New York State Vehicle and Traffic law requires all drivers to file an accident report, titled Report of Motor Vehicle Accident (MV-104), after becoming involved in an accident exceeding more than $1,000 in damages. An MV-104 must be filed within 10 days of the accident occurring and contains pertinent information to the success of a personal injury case, including:
- Contact information for all parties involved in an accident (drivers and witnesses);
- Time, date, and location of an accident;
- Amount and severity of damages;
- Conditions of weather and road during the accident;
- Visual aids to illustrate the accident;
- Citations issued or laws broken; and
- Police comments and observations.
Guidelines for Obtaining Accident Reports
The process for obtaining a certified copy of an MV-104 report will depend on the location of the incident and Office of Jurisdiction who filed the report. According to the New York State Police website regarding collisions, drivers can use the following information to request accident reports for personal use:
- NYS Thruway Accidents: Requests for car accident reports occurring on the NYS Thruway and subsidiary arterials must be submitted to the New York State Thruway Authority by means of completing form TA-W4310. This form can be found online and includes collisions on I-87 South of Albany, I-90 West of Albany & the Berkshire Spur East of Albany, and the I-190 and Westchester County portions of both I-287 & I-95.
- Non-Thruway Accidents: Police reports filed by New York State Police officers on roads and highways, not including the NYS Thruway, must be requested through the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles by filling out form MV-198C.
- Accidents Investigated by Other Agencies: Police reports that are filed by local police departments as opposed to NYS troopers may follow different guidelines for requesting copies of MV-104 reports. To request a report, contact the police department located in the jurisdiction where your accident occurred to receive further instruction.
Reports submitted electronically to the DMV by New York State Police or local departments are generally available for request within 30 days of submitting. However, drivers must be aware that not all agencies submit accident reports electronically. Some reports may take up to six weeks to become available for request and may require multiple follow-ups in order to obtain.
Obtaining Accident Reports Through The DMV
The New York State DMV website maintains copies of most filed MV-104 reports for up to four years from the date of an accident. To order a report, drivers must possess the plate number of a vehicle involved in the accident, the driver license number of a person involved, and/or the 8-digit DMV case number.
Before paying to submit an official request, it’s important to first perform a free limited search to see if your report is available. Interested parties can then request an immediate download of a certified copy or a hardcopy to be mailed. Fees associated with these services include:
- Online Download: $7.00 search fee and $15.00 report fee for each report.
- Mail Request: $10.00 search fee and $15.00 report fee for each report.
Drivers who are looking to access accident reports made by other drivers in an accident can follow the same steps above to obtaining these documents. Any reports that are unavailable via an online DMV search or through contacting local jurisdictions may require additional investigative measures to access depending on the variable of your accident.
New York City and Long Island Accident Attorneys
Our personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Siler & Ingber, have over 20 years of experience serving clients across New York City and Long Island. We protect your rights by maximizing recovery and securing the financial support our clients need to succeed on their road to recovery. Our winning attorneys know how to navigate through the claim process using past experience as insurance defense attorneys. We are not afraid to fight and are fully prepared to take your case to trial to get a justified verdict over settling for less.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident due to the negligence of another, our team at Siler & Ingber is here to help. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 1-877-529-4343 or schedule an appointment online anytime. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.