New York: Interstate 81 Police Reports and Accident Guide

Many of the highways in New York are considered dangerous due to the extremely high number of motor vehicle accidents and fatalities that take place on them each year. One of the most dangerous interstates that traverses New York is Interstate 81.This highway runs north to south through the central part of the state, including the cities of Watertown, Syracuse, and Binghamton. It passes through Jefferson, Oswego, Onondaga, Cortland, and Broome counties before reaching its terminus at Thousand Islands. 

Despite the state’s numerous efforts to make its highways safer for those who use them, catastrophic accidents take place almost every single day. Inadequate road maintenance, speeding vehicles, and distracted drivers are common causes of Interstate 81 car accidents.  

If you were injured in an I-81 car accident, you could be entitled to financial compensation. There are two main ways New York car accident victims can recover compensation: a personal injury suit or an insurance settlement. New York law states that when a person is seriously injured in a traffic accident, the at-fault driver is liable for their damages. 

If you were injured in an accident on Interstate 81, you are understandably confused and overwhelmed. You can depend on our New York I-81 car accident lawyers to handle all aspects of your case while you focus on getting better. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

We Can Assist You in Getting a Copy of Your Accident Report

If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, the police report is one of the most vital pieces of information you will have. Although it is certainly feasible for you to obtain a copy of this report on your own, it can be frustrating and challenging if you are already dealing with serious injuries and medical treatments due to the accident. Fortunately, you have options. 

The New York State Interstate 81 car accident attorneys can take care of necessary tasks such as tracking down official police reports. If trying to deal with the aftermath of a serious car accident all by yourself is proving to be too much for you to manage, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your personal injury case. You have nothing to lose. Our clients never pay any out-of-pocket costs or attorney fees unless we win their case. 


Why Are New York Highways So Unsafe?

Almost all highways in New York have areas that are enclosed by bridges, overpasses, and pretty much constant heavy traffic. Slopes, wing walls, and entrance posts also increase the odds of serious car accidents. Taking into account the steadily-rising number of registered vehicles, driving on almost any New York roadway has gradually become more dangerous. In addition to all of this, many of the state’s highways are badly maintained and have fallen into a state of disrepair. 

New York Crash Statistics

The Traffic Safety Statistical Repository, an archive of sorts that is maintained by the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, reported that, in one recent year, 371,368 car accidents took place in New York. These accidents caused 1,103 deaths and 11,174 injuries that were classified as serious. An additional 100,000 victims sustained moderate or minor injuries in these collisions.

Data released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a nonprofit educational and scientific institution committed to decreasing fatal and injury-causing car accidents through study and research, deadly traffic collisions in New York for the most recent reporting year included:

  • 251 drivers and passengers
  • 180 SUV and pick-up truck occupants
  • 136 motorcycle operators and passengers
  • 268 pedestrians
  • 46 cyclists
  • 17 commercial truck occupants 

586 of these auto accidents involved a single vehicle, 345 involved multiple vehicles, and about 34% of them were attributed to distracted driving, such as texting, making phone calls, and adjusting stereo controls.  


What is a New York Car Accident Report?

The law in New York requires the responding officers at a car accident to file a report if anybody was injured or more than $1,000 in property damage occurred. In instances where law enforcement does not respond, drivers are required to file a Report of Motor Vehicle Accident with the New York DMV themselves. The purpose of the motor vehicle accident report is to document the events that led up to the incident. 

Both the drivers’ insurance companies and the DMV will use the information contained within the crash report to establish liability for the car accident and begin the claims process. Every New York driver should know where and how to purchase a copy of their police accident report.


What Kind of Information Is in the Report?

The report is essentially a collection of facts about the accident. The information that is usually contained in a police car accident report includes:

  • Date, time, and location of the accident 
  • Make, model, and license plate numbers of the vehicles involved
  • The driver’s license number of each driver involved
  • The names of any passengers involved in the accident
  • Contact details for all drivers, passengers, and eyewitnesses  
  • Auto insurance details for all drivers involved in the accident
  • Prevailing conditions at the time (e.g., snowy, icy, raining, nighttime)
  • Prevailing traffic and road conditions (e.g., gridlock, malfunctioning stop light, obstructed view)
  • A brief summary of any fatalities or injuries to anyone involved
  • Any citations or moving violations that were issued by the police
  • Descriptions of any vehicle and property damage 
  • A sketch of the accident scene with notations made by the responding officer as to what most likely happened

If police respond to the scene, a report will be filed automatically. If they do not, however, New York law states that the drivers involved have 10 days to independently file an MVA report with the DMV. This report will become part of the official record for both drivers. Details are important, so be sure to include as much information as you can.


Why Do I Need a Copy of My New York I-81 Accident Report?

If police did not respond to the accident scene and issue a citation, it is a safe bet that the other driver is going to contest liability.  

The insurance provider for each driver will use the police report to establish percentages of fault for the accident. 


Where Can I Purchase a Copy of My Crash Report?

You should be able to get a copy of your crash report from the police station for the relevant precinct or the New York State Police office. Typically, your crash report will only be available for no more than 30 days after your accident. In the event that police did not respond and you drafted your own accident report, you have to fill out the Request for Copy of Collision Record Form.  

This form can be filled out online but you will need to make at least two copies. Once you have completed them, you will mail them to the precinct where your accident occurred or you can hand-deliver them to the precinct yourself. You may also request a copy of your police crash report from the NYPD online

It is important to keep in mind that your report will probably not be available until seven working days after your accident and that the precinct will only keep a copy of your crash report for 30 days after that. Once that 30 days has passed, your report will be forwarded to the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles. If you fail to request your report from the precinct before the 30-day window expires, you will have to obtain a copy of your crash report from the NYS DMV directly. 


How Do I Get a Copy of My Crash Report From the NYS DMV?

You are able to request your crash report from the NYS DMV website, which lets you search and download official police reports. Just go to the online portal and input the necessary information to find out if your crash report has been filed. Your initial search is free. If you find your report, however, you will have to pay a search fee of $7 search as well as a $15 fee for each copy of the report that you download. 

You may also request a copy of your police crash report by mail. To do so, you need to download and fill out a Request for Copy of Accident Report (form MV-198C).

Along with the completed document, you will need to provide details including:

  • The date the accident occurred
  • The county where the accident occurred 
  • A check made out to the NYS DMV to cover the $7 search fee and an additional $15 for every copy of the report requested.

To expedite the process of finding your report, you must also provide at least one of the following details:

  • The driver’s license number of any involved driver  
  • The license plate number of any involved vehicle 
  • The name and birthdate of anyone involved in the incident

You then mail your completed form along with payment to: 


MV-198C Processing

6 Empire State Plaza

Albany, NY 12228


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