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What Should You Do? When Do You Have to File an Accident Report?

Motor vehicle accidents and filing accident reports often vary from state to state. New York has a specific traffic laws you must follow when a motor vehicle accident occurs. What action you should take depends on the nature of the accident.

The Department of Motor Vehicles requires the following actions for different types of accidents.

Property Damage in Motor Vehicle Accidents

If property damage exceeds $1,000 you must file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident with the DMV within 10 days. Failure to report this accident can result in license suspension. If property damage was the only damage, you must also exchange information, including your driver's license, insurance and registration with other drivers involved in the accident.

Parked Vehicle Damage / Domestic Animal Injury

If you hit a parked car or a domestic animal, you must locate the owner or contact the police.

Personal Injury or Death Resulting from the Accident

If someone is injured in a motor vehicle accident or a fatality occurs, you must immediately notify the police. You must also remain at the accident scene. It is a crime to leave the scene. You, other drivers and the police must all file accident reports with the DMV.

The DMV does not determine who was at fault for an accident. However, the DMV will list the accident on all the drivers' records. If you have been in three or more reported accidents within an 18-month period, the DMV’s Accident Re-examination program identifies this fact. You will receive a letter from the DMV to come in for an interview. The DMV may have you take eye, written and road tests.

Obtaining Copies of Your Accident Report

You can contact or go to the police agency or precinct where the accident occurred and find out if your report is available. There will be a fee to obtain a copy. However, if you pursue legal action, your accident report may provide valuable evidence for the case.

If you have been seriously injured and believe another driver was at fault, you should consult with an experienced accident lawyer. You can discuss the prospects of pursuing a claim.

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