How Long Do You Have To Report an Accident?

How Long Do You Have To Report an Accident?

Steven Schwartzapfel -Founding Partner Jul 26, 2022

For more than 35 years, Steven Schwartzapfel, the founding member of Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., has been one of New York’s most prominent personal injury attorneys. Steve represents clients in all types of personal injury cases. His experience, skill, and dedication have enabled Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. to recover hundreds of millions of dollars for their clients.

With most auto accidents, you can’t simply shake hands with the other driver and walk away. You also have to report the auto accident to the DMV. This is true even if you and the other driver don’t want to press charges, or if, at first glance, the accident appears minor.

Even if you already know this rule, you might have questions such as: How long do I have to report a car accident before running the risk of getting into legal trouble? The answer to this question and more are included in the breakdown provided below.

Alternatively, you can contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers today for even more information and a free case evaluation at 1-800-966-4999.

Who Must Report an Auto Accident?

According to New York state law, you must report an auto accident under the following circumstances:

  • A person is injured or killed in the accident; and/or
  • There is more than $1000 worth of damage to the property of at least one individual, including you

If either of those two conditions is met, you must file an accident report with the DMV. Every driver involved in the accident has to file a separate report. For example, the two drivers involved in an accident cannot collaborate on one report and have one person file it for convenience’s sake.

Does this mean that you must report a fender bender? Not necessarily. For example, if you are engaged in a minor auto accident where you bump another vehicle’s fender, but there is barely any or no discernible damage, you do not need to report that accident.

That said, it can be tough to determine whether damages are worth $1,000, especially if you’re unfamiliar with auto repair costs. If you’re ever uncertain about whether you should report an auto accident, err on the side of caution and do so.

It’s far better to file a report with the DMV within a reasonable time frame and keep yourself legally covered than to skip filing a report and be liable for fines later down the road.

Other Legal Requirements

In addition to filing a report with the DMV, legally you’re required to call emergency services if someone is injured from an auto accident. That’s because many auto accident injuries can seem unimportant or minor at first but develop into more serious injuries later.

If you or another driver or passenger are injured in an auto accident, call emergency services right away. They can examine you and make sure you don’t have any major injuries. If you do have an injury, they can treat it quickly.


  • If you damage a parked vehicle or other property or injure a domestic animal, you must locate the owner of the property or animal and contact the authorities to report the property or vehicle damage.
  • It is always a crime to leave the scene of an accident if you cause a personal injury or death. As you could be accused of a hit-and-run, always contact emergency services instead.

As well, please don’t forget to give your contact information to the other driver!

For more on this, or for a personalized case evaluation at no charge, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers now at 1-800-966-4999.

How Long Do You Have To File an Accident Report?

According to New York vehicle and traffic laws, you have (10) days to file an accident report with the DMV. If you fail to do this, the DMV could suspend your driver’s license until they receive your accident report.

Significantly, these (10) days start from the day of the auto accident in question, not the day after. You should, therefore, make filing a report with the DMV a top priority after contacting emergency services, if necessary, and after contacting your insurance company (more on that below).

Note, too, that filing rules may vary from state to state. As such, if you are driving in a state other than New York, you must adhere to that state’s filing laws. Do not assume that the 10-day rule is the same in another state.

How To Report an Accident

Fortunately, reporting an auto accident to the DMV is fairly straightforward.

  • First, download and fill out the Report of Motor Vehicle Accident form. This is also called MV-104.
  • After filling out the form, send it to the DMV electronically; or, print the form, fill it out, and deliver it to your local DMV office in person.

Note, however, that the circumstances of your accident may change what you need to fill out on the accident form.

  • If the accident in question only caused property damage, you are legally required to exchange insurance and registration information with the other driver involved. You must also file the MV-104 while listing the property damage.
  • If the accident in question resulted in an injury or death, you are required to notify the police immediately and file the MV-104 with the appropriate information marked.

Once you fill out and submit your accident report, you can always get a copy of it from the DMV later. Remember that your accident report appears on the records for yourself and any other involved drivers. It also does not indicate that you were at fault in any way, so it will not hurt any upcoming auto accident litigation.

To get a copy of your accident report, you can either:

  • Contact a local police agency or precinct that dealt with the accident. Then, ask the agency if your accident report is available and, if it is, ask for a copy.
  • Get an accident report from the DMV if it has been filed and processed by that organization.

If you adhere to the time limit when providing your accident report, you will have eliminated potential roadblocks in getting your report back in time for a personal injury claim or another lawsuit.

To maximize your chances of success, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers today and speak with one of our leading accident attorneys at no charge. Simply dial 1-800-966-4999 and allow us the privilege of assisting you in your legal endeavors.

Who Should You Report an Accident To?

In addition to reporting an accident to the DMV, it may also be wise or even necessary to report an accident to other organizations. These organizations include:

The Police

Remember: If your car accident involves an injury or death, you are legally required to stay at the scene of the accident and report it to the emergency authorities right away.

Note, too, that if there aren’t any serious injuries, you can still report your accident to the police by visiting a police station or using non-emergency numbers. You must also report an accident to the police if you strike a parked vehicle and can’t contact the owner.

Your Car Insurance Company

New York doesn’t have any laws requiring you to report your car accident to your insurance provider. But this is always a good idea since failing to do so could prevent you from receiving your no-fault insurance benefits.

If you don’t report a collision promptly, your insurance provider might refuse to give you coverage should you need it. Most insurance companies require you to report an accident within (30) days of the incident.

Your Attorney

If you have a car accident attorney, it’s wise to let them know about the collision as soon as possible (but after notifying emergency authorities). This will give them added time to prepare litigation if you want to sue an at-fault driver or if you need to defend yourself from negligence accusations.

Why Is Reporting an Accident Important?

Reporting an accident is vital, as it protects you from breaking the law. Failing to report an auto accident to the DMV and/or police may result in you facing severe fines or even jail time. For example, if you injure an individual in a car accident and drive away, you could be sent to jail for participating in a hit-and-run.

But quickly reporting your traffic accident is also vital for receiving insurance coverage, as insurance policies often contain clauses allowing them to withhold coverage if a policyholder does not report an accident in a timely manner.

In the claims process, your deductible and insurance adjuster use the accident report to determine who pays for expenses for a bodily injury or other damages. Therefore, your accident claim’s success is dependent on you filing quickly. If you file after the other driver or after too long an amount of time, your driver’s insurance company could charge you more or cover less.

Reporting an accident is also important because it allows you to legally adhere to the guidelines set forth by the DMV Accident Re-examination Program. The purpose of this program is to identify drivers who have been involved in (3) or more accidents in the last 18 months. As a consequence, violators will be administered additional tests to ensure their driving safety.

Moreover, to avoid getting into legal trouble, reporting an accident to the DMV will ensure that you are not made to pay unnecessary fees. Even if you think you may have to pay money for an accident, it will cost more in the long run if you don’t report it to the appropriate authorities and organizations.

Note: Qualified legal representatives like Schwartzapfel Lawyers can help you before, during, and after your accident is first reported.

How Legal Professionals Can Help

Car accident lawyers can assist with filing an accident with the DMV in several ways. They can provide you with copies of the right form, help you identify which sections you need to fill out, and even deliver your accident report to the DMV on your behalf if you are injured and hospitalized.

Furthermore, auto accident attorneys such as Schwartzapfel Lawyers can provide sound legal counsel if you wish to file a claim against an at-fault driver or file an insurance claim successfully. Contact us today for more information and a free case evaluation online or at 1-800-966-4999.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today

Reporting an accident on time and to the right organization(s) is critical to ensuring legal compliance and avoiding unnecessary penalties and fees. It can also play an integral role in litigating successfully, whether you are on the prosecuting or defending side.

Schwartzapfel Lawyers is ready and able to handle your auto accident case. Not only can we help you file your claim before the statute of limitations expires, but we can also answer any questions you may have about auto insurance, DMV regulations, and more.

So, why wait? Contact us today online or at 1-800-966-4999 for a free consultation. Your financial future is worth it.



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