Are Car Accident Reports Public Record?

According to New York’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), car accident reports are made available to the public anywhere from 14 to 60 days after the accident date, depending on how the report was submitted. The DMV keeps accident reports submitted by both police and motorists for up to four years after the accident. Accident reports are public record, meaning that anyone who wants to look at your New York car accident report can do so for a fee.

If you were involved in a car accident in New York and sustained injuries, it’s essential to get a copy as soon as possible to ensure all the information is correct. If there are errors, it can potentially hinder your ability to pursue damages in an injury claim.

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What Information Does a Car Accident Report Contain?

The accident report contains factual information surrounding the car crash. When a police officer comes to the scene and submits the accident report, it may not provide information about which driver was liable for the accident or whether traffic laws were violated. Sometimes this information is detailed, but it’s not required.

A car accident report typically contains the:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident
  • Details of the vehicle’s positions and a diagram of the scene
  • Names of all parties and witnesses involved in the accident
  • Names and addresses of all parties injured with possible details of injuries
  • Details of lighting, road conditions, and weather
  • Details of sustained property damage
  • Details of vehicles involved in the accident
african american police officer leaning back on car and looking away

What if I Disagree with Information on the Accident Report?

Depending on what information you disagree with on the accident report, you may be able to get it amended. Factual errors, like the date or time of the accident, or incorrect information that identifies parties involved, could potentially be modified.

However, if you disagree with the police officer’s findings or with a statement made by a witness, you likely won’t be able to get the information changed. The best option is to ask the law enforcement agency if you can submit your own statement so it’s added to the accident report. Law enforcement in New York may not permit this, but you can always make the request.

How Do I Get a Copy of My Car Accident Report in New York?

After a car accident, you’ll need a copy of your accident report to file a claim for injuries and property damage. You and your attorney can obtain a copy of your car accident report by contacting the local police agency where the accident occurred and following their protocol. The agency will tell you whether the report is available and how much the fee is to retrieve it.

If the DMV has processed the accident report, you can access your certified accident report online or via mail. Accident reports become publicly available from 14–60 days after the report was filed. According to the New York DMV, it’s $7 to search for a report online or $10 by mail. To order the accident report, motorists must pay an additional $15 fee.

Police woman reviewing files and documents
Police woman reviewing files and documents

How Do I Get a Copy of My Car Accident Report in New York?

After a car accident, you’ll need a copy of your accident report to file a claim for injuries and property damage. You and your attorney can obtain a copy of your car accident report by contacting the local police agency where the accident occurred and following their protocol. The agency will tell you whether the report is available and how much the fee is to retrieve it.

If the DMV has processed the accident report, you can access your certified accident report online or via mail. Accident reports become publicly available from 14–60 days after the report was filed. According to the New York DMV, it’s $7 to search for a report online or $10 by mail. To order the accident report, motorists must pay an additional $15 fee.

Lady Justice figure with scales highlighted

How Can My Personal Injury Case Benefit from My Car Accident Report?

An accident report is vital evidence in a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim. It’s imperative to review the car accident report for any errors that could potentially harm your chances of securing a favorable settlement from the party at fault or their insurance company.

If, for example, the report states that your actions contributed to the accident, the other driver or insurance company can deny your injury claim. After securing a copy of your accident report, the New York car accident attorneys at The Barnes Firm can help discern and address any possible inaccuracies or gather evidence that reveals the car accident’s correct facts.

Call The Barnes Firm to Help with Your Car Accident in New York

If you need to recover or dispute a car accident report in New York, the personal injury attorneys at The Barnes Firm can help. With decades of combined experience handling various accidents, you can be confident knowing that we’ll fight to secure the most favorable outcome for you. Our top car accident attorneys in New York City have secured millions of dollars in settlement claims for injured victims in New York. To speak with a trusted car accident lawyer today, complete an online contact form or call our office today. The consultation is free, and we will not take a fee from you until we win your case.

The Barnes Firm (800) 800-0000