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How to Read a New York Accident Report

Posted on May 22, 2018 by Kelly Wolford
accident report

If you have been involved in a collision in New York State, it is likely that an accident report will be filed.

All drivers who are involved in an accident are required by NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law to stop and exchange information. If property damage exceeds $1001, you need to file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. If someone is injured or killed in an accident, however, you are required by law to immediately contact the police. In New York State any driver who strikes a horse, dog, cat or animal classified as cattle must stop and attempt to notify the owner or custodian of the animal, a police officer, or take reasonable action to ensure that the animal receives appropriate care.

According to the New York State DMV, the police and all drivers who were involved in the accident must file an accident report with the agency. The DMV will keep accident reports for four years from the date of the accident.

It is important that you obtain a copy for your records as soon as it is available, in case you need to file an injury claim. Accident reports that were submitted by police typically are available within 14 days of the date of the accident if it was filed electronically, and 30 days if the officer used a paper form at the scene.

Why Is the Accident Report So Important?

An accident report is an official document that can illustrate and record information about the accident scene and who was involved. Because accidents involving injuries and fatalities require a report that has been completed by a law enforcement officer, they become an important document that will be scrutinized by attorneys and insurance companies if an injured party pursues an injury claim.

It’s important to remember that law enforcement does not have final say when it comes to determining civil liability for a car accident. While it may provide helpful information for a personal injury claim, the accident report merely records the police officer’s observations and opinions about the circumstances of the crash, as well as basic information about the drivers and their insurance coverage. The courts ultimately have the authority to weigh all the evidence and determine fault and liability.

If you have been hurt in an accident in New York State, you may be eligible to take legal action against the party or parties responsible for the collision. By understanding how to read an accident report, you can ensure that the information on the report is correct and free of any errors that may jeopardize your injury claim. Know that the insurance companies will examine the accident report closely and will look for anything that might help them deny or diminish your claim.

Reading the Accident Report

On page one of the report, you will see a standard information section that includes essential details about you and the accident. This includes your name, your driver’s license number, your address, and the date and time of the accident. It also includes the names and contact information for the other drivers, as well as ownership and registration information about the vehicles involved in the crash.

One of the sections on the first page is the “All Involved” boxes, in which the officer will enter codes for the different injuries that they observed on the scene. This includes the location of the injury (Row 14), type (Row 15), and severity (Row 16). The codes for All Involved can be found on page two.

Rows 19-22 are where the officer indicates contributing factors for the collision, which are also indicated by codes that can be found on the second page. These codes include 19 – “unsafe speed,” 4 – “driver inattention/distraction,” and 2 – “alcohol involvement,” to name just a few. You should make sure that the officer’s assessment is accurate.  These codes are an important part of any injury claim that you might make since they are a strong indicator of what may have caused the accident in the first place.

Page one also has diagrams for the officer to include and vehicle damage codes. These diagrams and codes are highly scrutinized by insurance companies when determining how much compensation to offer accident victims. If you do not think the officer’s assessment is accurate, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney at Powers & Santola, LLP, for help.

It is also important to make sure that the officer marks the correct number of people injured in the “Number Injured” box.

Pages two, three, and four of the report contain the various codes for the sections described above. Page four specifically contains the codes for the types of injuries sustained, including 5 – “severe bleeding” and 9 – “fracture,” among many others.

Pages five and six contain the codes for the various hospitals in New York. Page seven is essential if you have been hurt in an accident involving a commercial truck or a bus in New York. Each type of commercial vehicle has a specific code, so make sure that the officer enters the correct one that corresponds to your accident.

Contact Powers & Santola, LLP for Help

Serious injury accidents can have a lasting effect on your life, your health, and your finances. It is critical not to take the accident report lightly, for you may need it when you file a personal injury claim. It is crucial that you know how to read an accident report, and it is even more important to contact a qualified New York car accident lawyer to assist you if you are considering filing a claim.

Don’t trust a case of this magnitude to an inexperienced attorney. Choose Powers & Santola, LLP, the personal injury firm that has helped so many other people like you in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and across the state seek the justice they deserve after a car accident. We have helped recover millions of dollars on behalf of our clients for their car accident claims. Let us put our decades of experience to work for you. Contact us by phone or online to schedule a free and confidential consultation with our team today.