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How do I report a car accident in Pennsylvania?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2021 | Personal injury

After a car accident in Pennsylvania, those who were involved will have a great deal to consider in its aftermath. First, they must check to see if anyone is injured. Next, they must assess the damage and calculate how it will impact them. When there are injuries and property damage, there are critical steps that must be taken to recover compensation for all that was lost. A fundamental but often downplayed aspect of every case is reporting the accident. There are several entities that must be notified of the accident to ensure the proper information is provided. That includes law enforcement, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the insurance company. Failure to follow the proper procedure can delay or outright hinder any attempt to be adequately covered for all that was lost.

The basics of filing an auto accident report in Pennsylvania

After an auto accident, there is a specific accident report form that must be used. The report must be filed within five days if police did not investigate the accident. It must also be filed within five days if someone died in the accident, there was an injury or a vehicle was seriously damaged. In most accidents of this severity, law enforcement, emergency services and other first responders will come to the scene. They will then create the accident report. It might also be necessary to file a report with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT). People are advised to make sure there is an accident report and not to simply trust that the police have created one. Those involved should get a copy. If the report is not filed within the required time frame, the driver’s license could be subject to suspension.

Exchanging information with the other driver is crucial after an accident and must be part of the report. That will include all their personal information, contact information, driver’s license numbers and insurance details. The same is true for anyone else who was involved whether that is a passenger, a bicyclist or a pedestrian. The vehicle’s make, model, style and license plate number must be recorded. All damage the vehicle sustained must be described in detail. If possible, a diagram should be provided showing how the accident happened. Its location and the circumstances should be part of the report.

Often, people are under the impression that a minor accident does not need to be reported if no one appears to have been injured. That is a common mistake that can cause a litany of problems later. Since many symptoms do not show until later, failure to report the accident as soon as possible can harm a claim.

Filing a report is an understated – but vital – part of an auto accident claim

Despite Pennsylvania being a no-fault insurance state, it is still imperative to file a report about the collision. People who are already physically injured and emotionally traumatized by an auto accident might not be thinking about clerical issues and the rules for filing a report about what happened. This can cause challenges as they pursue a case for what they have lost. Not reporting the accident in a timely manner and according to the law can limit or prevent being covered for medical costs, lost income, long-term care, property repair, vehicle replacement and more. To make certain all the fundamentals are adhered to, it may be beneficial to have professional assistance immediately. Consulting with those who understand all aspect of a crash from every angle is essential from the beginning.