When Do You Have to File an MV-104 Accident Report in New York?
New York State law requires the operator of a motor vehicle to complete and file an MV-104 with NYS DMV within 10 days of your accident in New York if there was a fatality, personal injury, or damage over $1,000 to the property of any person.
Failure to file your report within 10 days is a misdemeanor. If you do not file your report, your license and/or registration may be suspended until a report is filed.
Do You Have to File an MV-104 Accident Report in New York?
Although New York State law requires the operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident to complete and file an MV-104, the law is not always enforced.
What Will Happen If I Don’t or Didn’t File an MV-104 Accident Report in New York?
If you do not file your MV-104 accident report, your driver’s license and/or registration will not be suspended unless and until someone requests it within 4 years. NYS DMV keeps accident reports for 4 years from the date of an accident.
Who would request a copy of my MV-104 accident report? Either the other driver, a personal injury attorney for the other driver, a passenger, or any insurance company will usually request a copy of your report from the DMV.
When our client is injured in a car accident or motorcycle accident, and the other driver has not filed an MV-104 accident report, we will request NYS DMV to suspend that driver’s license. That usually results in the driver filing the MV-104, which we will use in our case.
What will happen if someone requests my MV-104 accident report within 4 years? NYS DMV will send you a letter telling you that you must file your report within 35 days to avoid suspension of your driver’s license. You must then file your MV-104 accident report.
Note: If you do not file your MV-104 accident report, make sure that DMV has your current address and update your address if you move.
Not only are you required to update NYS DMV with your current address, but if DMV sends you a letter at your old address telling you to file your MV-104 and you don’t receive the letter, your license will be suspended.
Who Can File an MV-104 Accident Report?
Only the driver or operator of a motor vehicle involved in an accident in New York State can and must file an MV104 accident report.
Do not confuse an MV104 accident report with an MV104A accident report. An MV104A accident report is an accident report filled out and filed by a police officer.
If you want to find out how to get a police accident report, see these pages:
Why Should I File an MV-104 Accident Report?
Reasons drivers file an MV104 accident report:
- To correct information on a police report (see How to Correct or Amend a Police Report in New York).
- A police report was not filed by the police officer at the time of the accident.
- To comply with New York State Law and avoid any possibility of the driver’s license being suspended.
Should You Fill out Your MV-104 Accident Report Yourself?
Not if you were injured. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident or car accident, you should always have your attorney fill out and file the MV104 report for you.
The reason you should not fill out your accident report is that much of the information you fill out can be used against you in your accident case, even if you filled out the report truthfully and accurately! (see below)
If you were injured in a motorcycle or car accident, we will file your MV-104 for you at no charge.
If you were NOT injured, we cannot file your MV-104. But if you were NOT injured, you can either fill out and file the MV104 report yourself or don’t bother to file it. See the above paragraph, “What Will Happen If I Don’t or Didn’t File an MV-104 Accident Report in New York?”
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How to Fill out an MV-104 Accident Report
Top of the MV-104 Form
Enter the number of pages, the accident date, day, time, number of people injured, and the name of the police department.
Driver Information Boxes
On the left side (Driver of Vehicle 1): Enter your name, address, and vehicle info for Driver of Vehicle 1. The driver who is filling out the MV-104 is the Driver of Vehicle 1.
Underneath your license information, enter the name on the registration of the car you were driving and the car’s registration information.
On the right side (Driver of Vehicle 2): Enter the other driver’s name, address, and vehicle info for Driver of Vehicle 2. The driver of the other vehicle is the Driver of Vehicle 2.
Underneath the other driver’s license information, enter the name on the registration of the car the other driver was driving and the other car’s registration information.
If there are more than two vehicles involved in the accident, use another sheet and enter the information on the left side for the 3rd vehicle and mark it vehicle # 3. If there is a fourth vehicle, enter the information on the right side for the 4th vehicle and mark it vehicle #4.
If you had a hit-and-run accident, on the right side for Driver of Vehicle 2, write “Left scene”
Box 3 Vehicle Damage
You can ignore the vehicle damage and accident diagram. You can leave this section blank.
Box 4 Place Where Accident Occurred in New York State
Enter the location where the accident happened. For “How did the accident happen?” Enter “two car collision”.
Box 5 Names of ALL Persons Involved
Enter your name and information for all persons involved in the accident. Where it says, “Describe injuries,” on the line for your name, you can enter “too many to list.”
Box 6 Insurance
Enter your insurance information, including the name of your insurance company; policy number; the name of the policyholder; and the policy starting date and ending date. This is the information NYS DMV is really looking for.
Bottom of the MV-104 Form
At the bottom, enter the date, print your name, and sign the MV-104 form.
Example of a Completed MV104 Accident Report With Too Much Information
This is an example of an MV104 accident report which was filled out with too much information.
Sometimes, too much information can actually be bad such as when describing your injuries. Entering some injuries can be used to imply that you did not have any other injuries. You can enter any serious injuries and write “plus additional injuries” or just write “too many injuries to list.”
When filling out an accident report for our clients, we enter very little information. The numbers below refer to the boxes outlined in red:
- 1. These boxes can be confusing, and we have seen people entering the wrong numbers in these boxes. You can leave these boxes blank.
- 2. The map, even if drawn accurately, can be used against you. You do not need to draw a map.
3. The description is often written in a manner that can easily be used against you, even if you think you wrote it accurately. It’s best to write “two-vehicle collision” or “two-car collision.”
- 4. The numbers in these boxes are also confusing, are often entered inaccurately, and the wrong information about your injuries can hurt you.
5. Description of injuries: The MV-104 report in the above image listed only listed a couple of the less serious injuries this client sustained. You should write “too many injuries to list.”
We do not charge an extra fee to fill out these reports for our clients because, after an accident, you already have too many problems, and since you’re not a lawyer, you don’t know how to fill out the report so as not to damage your case.
You can download an MV-104, but if you were injured, please don’t fill out any information other than your signature and make sure you give it to your lawyer. If we are your attorneys, we will send you a completed MV-104 to sign and return to us so we can file it for you with the DMV.
How Long Does NYS DMV Keep an MV-104 Accident Report on File?
DMV keeps (motorist and police) accident reports for 4 years from the date of an accident, except for rare cases described in Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 201(I) “…except that if the commissioner shall receive, during the last year of such period of four years, written notice to retain one or more of such papers or documents, the same shall be retained for another four years in addition to said period of four years.”
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Motorcycle Attorney Phil Franckel talks about how motorcycle accidents are different
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is the author of all articles and content on this website, one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York, well-known for representing motorcyclists. He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and is a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.
Founding Partner Rob Plevy, Esq.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is a motorcycle accident lawyer and one of the Personal Injury Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Robert began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.