Accidents can happen at any time. And when they do, it’s important to know the ins and outs of reporting them in Pennsylvania. Whether you’ve been involved in a car accident or witnessed one, understanding the “who,” “how,” and “when” of accident reporting is important.
At GSAS, we are dedicated personal injury attorneys who focus on ensuring the rights of individuals involved in accidents. We can help make sure you take the right steps following your accident. This article will provide you with valuable insights into the Pennsylvania accident reporting process.
WHO Should Report an Accident?
One of the first questions that comes to mind after witnessing or being involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania is, “Who is responsible for reporting the incident?” The answer largely depends on the circumstances:
If you’re directly involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania, it is your responsibility to report the incident. This applies whether you’re the driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian. It’s important to exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved.
While witnesses to a car accident are not obligated to file a car accident report, their statements and observations can be vital. The witnesses can play an important role in determining fault and liability. If you witnessed an accident, you may be asked to provide a statement to the authorities or insurance companies.
In some cases, law enforcement officers who arrive at the scene of an accident will file a crash report themselves. This is especially true for more severe accidents that result in injuries or significant property damage. However, it’s still advisable for involved parties to file their own report for their records.
HOW to File an Accident Report
Filing an accident report in Pennsylvania is a straightforward process. However, it’s important to follow the correct steps to ensure that all necessary information is documented. Here’s a step by step process to follow:
1. Safety First
Ensure that everyone involved in the accident is safe, and seek medical attention if necessary. If the accident is severe and requires immediate assistance, call 911.
2. Move to a Safe Location
If possible, move the vehicles involved to a safe location, such as the shoulder of the road, to prevent further accidents or traffic disruptions.
3. Contact the Authorities
In cases of injury, death, or significant property damage, contact the local police or Pennsylvania State Police immediately. They will arrive at the scene to assess the situation and file an official crash report.
4. Exchange Information
If law enforcement isn’t called to the scene, exchange contact and insurance information with the other parties involved in the accident. Be sure to gather names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, and insurance policy details.
5. Document the Scene
Take photos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any relevant road conditions or traffic signs. This documentation can be crucial when filing an insurance claim.
6. File an Accident Report
If law enforcement doesn’t respond to the scene, you’ll need to file your own accident report. You can obtain the necessary forms from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) website or visit a local police station. Be sure to complete the form accurately and submit it within five days of the accident.
WHEN Should You File an Accident Report?
Timing is critical when it comes to reporting a car accident in Pennsylvania. Here’s a look at the crucial deadlines that answer the question ‘How long do I have to . . .?
Immediately After the Accident
If law enforcement is called to the scene, they will file the crash report on your behalf. However, if they do not respond, you must file your own report within five days of the accident. Failure to do so could result in legal consequences.
Notify your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Many insurance policies require prompt reporting of accidents, and delaying this step could affect your coverage.
Statute of Limitations
Keep in mind that Pennsylvania has a statute of limitations of two years to file personal injury claims and property damage lawsuits. It’s essential to consult with an attorney and file any necessary legal actions within this timeframe.
Other Important Things to Know
Apart from the basics of reporting an accident, there are other critical considerations:
Fault and Liability
Determining fault in an accident can impact insurance claims and legal proceedings. Pennsylvania follows a comparative negligence system, which means that multiple parties can share fault. Understanding how this system works is crucial for the best chance to receive fair compensation.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Pennsylvania law requires insurers to offer uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage can be essential in cases where the at-fault party lacks insurance or has insufficient coverage.
Consulting an Attorney
If you’ve been injured in an accident or are facing difficulties with your insurance claim, it’s wise to consult a personal injury attorney. Legal professionals can navigate complex situations, negotiate with insurance companies, and advocate for your rights.
Trust GSAS for Legal Guidance
In times of uncertainty following an accident, having experienced personal injury attorneys to support you can make all the difference. At GSAS, our dedicated team is well-versed in Pennsylvania accident reporting, insurance claims, and personal injury law. We are committed to protecting your rights and pursuing the compensation that you deserve.
Don’t navigate the aftermath of an accident alone. Contact GSAS today for guidance and representation. Our mission is to help you recover and move forward with confidence after an accident. Your well-being and legal rights are our top priorities.