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You are required by the NY State Vehicle and Traffic Law to file an accident report if you are involved in any accident where there is damage to the property of one individual (including yourself) that is more than $1,000. The report must be filed within 10 days.
DMV keeps accident reports for only 4 years from the date of the accident, except for rare instances that are described in Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 201(i). You can search and order reports online.
If you were in an accident and the damages were less than $2,500, you can report to DMV if the other party doesn't have insurance. Be sure to clearly note on the accident report that it doesn't meet mandatory reporting criteria.
The first step to take after a car accident is to determine whether anyone in your vehicle has been injured. If another car was involved, check on the other driver and any passengers. Once you've confirmed that everyone is safe, move the impacted vehicles to the side of the road, if possible. Then you can alert the authorities, gather information, and start the claims process.
Make sure you and your passengers are safe and uninjured. If there's another vehicle involved in the accident, check to make sure that the driver and any passengers are OK too. Accidents are stressful, but keeping a calm, normal demeanor will help you stay in control of the situation.
If your car is drivable, move it to the side of the road or as far away from traffic as possible while still remaining at the scene of the accident. Warn oncoming traffic using your hazard lights and/or setting up road flares.
While the police report provides official documentation of the crash, always take your own pictures of the damage to your vehicle, as well as pictures of any other vehicles involved as a part of your car accident checklist. Gather images from multiple angles to show exactly where any impact occurred. These images can help your claims representative determine who's at fault in the accident.
Regardless of who's at fault, it's a good idea to inform your car insurance company that an accident occurred. Keep in mind that it's your choice whether to file an auto insurance claim with your insurer or the other driver's insurer. You can also file a car insurance claim without filing a police report. Generally, your insurer just needs some basic information about the accident to open a claim, including any pictures you took of the damage. A claims representative will be assigned to you and will help you through the claims process.
Consider adding uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to your auto policy to help minimize your costs if you have an accident with another driver who doesn't carry auto insurance. In many states, uninsured motorist coverage is required for all drivers. Learn more about car insurance requirements by state.
If you're involved in a minor car accident with no injuries and minimal damage to either car, then you may choose not to file a claim or report the accident to the police. However, you should still exchange information just in case you or the other driver decide to file a claim later. For the same reason, you should also let your insurance company know about the incident.
Please note: The above is meant as general information to help you understand the different aspects of insurance. Read our editorial standards for Answers content. This information is not an insurance policy, does not refer to any specific insurance policy, and does not modify any provisions, limitations, or exclusions expressly stated in any insurance policy. Descriptions of all coverages and other features are necessarily brief; in order to fully understand the coverages and other features of a specific insurance policy, we encourage you to read the applicable policy and/or speak to an insurance representative. Coverages and other features vary between insurers, vary by state, and are not available in all states. Whether an accident or other loss is cove