You absolutely may file a personal injury claim without a police report in NY. However, the lack of a police report may complicate your claim and reduce your odds of winning. This issue usually comes up in the context of an auto accident. In many cases, both drivers must file a crash report with the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The responding police officer will also file a Police Accident Report.
Do Not Leave the Scene of the Accident
Leaving the scene of a non-injury accident is a traffic violation in New York. If someone is injured, it is a crime. You must locate the owner or contact the police if you crash into a parked car.
Who Must File a Report in NY?
All drivers must file a crash report (MV-104 Report of Motor Vehicle Accident) with the New York DMV within ten days of the accident if:
- The accident causes more than $1,000 worth of damages; or
- Someone involved suffers injury or death.
If dispatched, the responding police officer will also file a report, giving claimants at least three reports in many cases. If you fail to meet the 10-day filing deadline, the DMV might suspend your driver's license until you file your report.
For the sake of clarity, this post will henceforth refer to the crash report filed by the responding police officer as a “police report” and a report filed by a driver as a “crash report.”
How a Police Report Can Help You Win Your Claim
You often cannot admit a crash report or a police report into evidence at trial because it is inadmissible hearsay. Instead, a report gives you an idea of how drivers and the responding police officer would testify at trial. The contents of the police report could help you or hurt you in negotiations with the defendant or their insurance company.
Always secure a copy of every available police report before commencing negotiations with an insurance company. Can you file an insurance claim without a police report? Yes, you can still file a claim if you lack one or more reports. An insurance company might balk at agreeing to a settlement, however, especially if it is the police report that is missing.
Filing a Lawsuit Can Generate Evidence to Replace a Missing Police or Crash Report
You can file your own crash report, even if you miss the 10-day deadline. If you are missing one or more of the other reports, you might file a lawsuit even if you are committed to settling your case out of court. If the judge sets a trial date, it will probably be several months later. This delay gives you time to win at the negotiating table using the results of the pretrial discovery process, which can only occur after you file a lawsuit.
Questioning the Other Driver or the Responding Police Officer During Pretrial Discovery
To generate the functional equivalent of a missing crash or police report, you might seek to have your lawyer question the responding officer or the other driver under oath. A record of this questioning can serve as the functional equivalent of a police report in settlement negotiations. Your lawyer can also question these witnesses at trial if necessary.
If you suffered a hit-and-run accident and you cannot locate the other driver, you will not have a crash report from the other driver. This deficiency will certainly not hinder your ability to file a claim. It might even improve your odds of winning, since a crash report filed by the other driver is likely to be hostile to your claim.
If the Police Didn't Respond to the Accident
A police report filed by the responding officer is persuasive because the officer has no stake in the outcome of your claim. If the police did not respond to the accident, you will have no responding officer to question. This lack of response could greatly disadvantage your claim.
You could still win through other evidence such as:
- Photographs of damage to your car
- Surveillance footage of the accident
- Medical records
- Your own testimony
- Eyewitness testimony
- Photos of the scene of the accident (skid marks, etc.)
- The testimony of an accident reconstruction expert
Your lawyer might be able to identify other evidence as well.
Contact a Lawyer for Help Filing a Personal Injury Claim in NY Without a Police Report
If you are missing a police or crash report, you face an additional hurdle in winning your claim. That is precisely why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you. Since almost every personal injury lawyer offers free initial case consultations, take advantage of the opportunity.
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If you have been injured in an accident due to someone else's negligence, contact the lawyers at Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC to get the wheels of justice spinning for you. Call 212-240-9465 now!
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