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How to Read an Accident Report 

If you've been injured in an accident or on the job, the attorneys of Hach & Rose, LLP have the knowledge, skills, and experience required to hold the party responsible for your injury accountable.

Last Updated: 08-16-2023
Written by: Michael A. Rose and Gregory Hach

online accident reportIf you have been involved in a car accident in New York, then you know what an overwhelming ordeal it can be. Most motorists know that the first step in navigating the aftermath of a car accident is to call the authorities and report the crash. But what happens after the accident? One of the first things you’ll need to do in the days following the crash is obtain a copy of the accident report for your records.

The police report is one of the most important documents you’ll need to gather for your injury claim. Whether you’re working on an insurance claim or filing a personal injury lawsuit, the police report will contain vital information that may help strengthen your case. Unfortunately, not all drivers request this report or understand how to read it.

Here’s what you need to know about your New York car accident report: 

Obtaining a Police Report

police accident reportLaw enforcement officers who are called to the scene of a car accident must complete an accident report. This report contains each driver’s contact and insurance details, describes the condition of each vehicle involved in the crash and any injuries suffered by the victims, and notes the factors that may have contributed to the cause of the collision. To obtain a copy of your accident report in person, you’ll need to visit the police department that responded to the accident.

You can also access your report via the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website. Law enforcement officers are required to file accident reports with the DMV following a crash. Keep in mind that your report may not be available immediately after the accident. It can take time for the police and the DMV to process the document and make it available online. You can conduct an free initial search to see if the DMV has a copy before you request your certified accident report. Subsequent searches may be subject to a small fee.

How to Read an Accident Report  

If you have obtained a copy of your accident report, here is a quick guide that explains how to read and understand it: 

Page 1 

The first page of an accident report generally contains each driver’s basic information including the person’s name, address, driver’s license number, and the exact time and date of the collision. You will want to take the time to review this information to make sure that it is accurate.

Page one of the report also contains a section titled “Vehicle Damage Codes”. In this area of the report, an officer will document which sections of each vehicle have visible damage. An insurance adjuster may request this information when trying to determine the total value of the property damage you suffered. 

The “all-involved” section on the first page indicates the injuries an officer observed while on scene. Row 14 lists the physical location of an individual’s injuries, while row 15 is generally used to record the type of injuries observed. Row 16 is reserved to describe the severity of the victim’s injuries.

Lastly, the section marked “Boxes 19-24” lists out the factors that the responding officer believes contributed to the crash. This section relies heavily on the use of codes. Each number is code for a contributing factor. For instance, the number two indicates alcohol involvement, while 19 refers to unsafe speeds.

Pages 2 7

Typically, pages two through four will all contain specific information about the meaning of the codes used on page one. Some police reports include sheets with four-digit hospital codes listing each hospital in the city. Hospital codes can typically be found on pages five and six. Page seven of a police report is reserved for accidents that involve semi-trucks or buses.

If you are having trouble understanding your New York car accident report, the New York DMV has a sample report that you can view online. The sample report highlights some of the most important information you may need to know. You can also contact an experienced New York car accident attorney to help you review the information contained in the report and find out how it may help your claim.

Contact an Experienced New York Car Accident Attorney Today 

Have you been seriously injured by a negligent driver? The legal team at Hach & Rose, LLP can help you access your official police report and work to build a strong case demonstrating why you deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries.

For a no-cost case evaluationcall our New York office today at (212) 779-0057.

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