If you’ve suffered injury or property damage in an auto wreck and are making an insurance or legal claim, it’s important that you know how to get a car accident report from the police. A copy of the police report about your accident will be important evidence for your claim, and without it you may run a higher risk of your claim being denied or receiving an unfair settlement offer that doesn’t adequately cover your damages. But exactly how do you obtain a car accident police report, and how long does it take to get a police report after an accident?

How to Obtain a Car Accident Police Report

There are several steps you can take to try and get a copy of the police report for your car accident claim. Here is the step-by-step process:

  1. Contact the responding police officer.
  2. Visit the police station.
  3. Call your insurance provider.
  4. Go to the Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Contact the Responding Police Officer

The first party you can contact to try and get a copy of the police report is the officer who responded to the scene of your accident. The officer should have provided you with a receipt for the report that has an identification number on it, which you can give the officer when you contact him or her. However, if you don’t have an identification number for the report, explain that you are looking for a copy of the police report for your accident and provide your name, the date of the crash, where it occurred and the approximate time of day, the license plate number of your car, and other details of the incident.

Visit the Police Station

If the responding officer can’t help you or doesn’t get back to you in a timely way, you can try the second step in how to get a car accident report from the police. You can visit, call or go online to the police agency or police precinct for the officer that took the report. Provide the report identification number to the desk clerk or the details of your accident if you don’t have the number. Be aware, depending upon what area of New York you are in and what agency you visit, you may have to pay a fee to the police agency for the copy of the accident report.

Call Your Insurance Provider

You can also ask the claims representative at your insurance company whether they have a copy of the police report. If they have requested and received a copy, they might provide you a copy for free upon your request. Note, however, that the police don’t automatically provide copies to insurance companies, so the company would have had to request it.

Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles

If none of the above three options are fitting for you, or work for you, there is a fourth step in how to get a car accident police report. However, it will cost you in fees and may take longer than getting it directly from the police department. You can get your car accident police report through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. You can order a copy of the report from the DMV website.

Reports can be downloaded electronically or you can ask for a hard copy to be mailed to you. When requesting a copy of the police accident report either online or through the mail, be prepared to provide your driver’s license number, your car’s license plate number or the incident report identification number. Current fees for reports are $22 for an electronic copy and $25 to receive a report by mail.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Police Report After an Accident?

The answer to “how long does it take to get a police report after an accident” is “it depends.” The report may be available at police agencies as soon as 24 hours following an accident or it may take longer, depending upon the internal procedures of the specific agency. As an example, if the police report was taken by the New York Police Department, it can take up to seven days from the date of the accident for the report to be available through the NYPD’s electronic system, but walk-in requests may be available sooner. Collision reports are available at NYPD precincts for 30 days from the time of the report’s filing. After that, all accident reports from precincts are forwarded to the New York State DMV and all report requests must be made to the DMV.

If you are seeking a copy of a police car accident report through the DMV, you can expect to wait at least 14 to 30 days from the date of the accident for the report to be available in the DMV system. Reports filed electronically by police are generally available within approximately 14 days, but if the officer used a paper form to report the crash, it may be 30 days or more.

How the Police Report Can Benefit Your Claim

Now that you know how to get a car accident report from the police, let’s delve more deeply into how having the report can benefit your claim. First, it will allow you to see what is in the report to ensure the information is accurate. Inaccurate information might negatively affect your car accident claim, so if you know it is there, you can be prepared to refute it with your insurance company. The police report can also tell you what other parties to the accident and witnesses are saying as to how the crash occurred, which will allow you to gather your own evidence if necessary to offset unfavorable statements. If you work with an attorney to bring a legal claim, the information in the police report can lead to further evidence to help your attorney in their investigation.

Need Help Getting Your Police Report? Call Us

If after following the steps above you are still unable to get a copy of the police report, or if the process is simply taking too long, you might consider consulting our New York car accident lawyers for assistance. Our skilled accident attorneys can help you obtain the evidence you’ll need to prove liability for your accident, including getting a copy of the police report.

When you’ve been injured in a car accident, Kaplan Lawyers PC is here to help you. Contact our experienced attorneys at (516) 399-2364 to schedule your free case review.