A car accident is over in a matter of seconds, but the paperwork and phone calls with your insurance company can take weeks. A common first steps after a car accident is completing an accident report. Even though Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state, a report many need to be filed with the police, the DMV, and your insurance company. This review of Pennsylvania car accident report basics can help you save time and maybe even some money if you become involved in a collision.
How to File a Car Crash Report in Pennsylvania
This chart provides a summary of Pennsylvania laws and procedures useful when filing a car crash report.
|State Accident Statutes
|When to File a Crash Report
Motorists in Pennsylvania are required to file a report within 5 days of the crash when:
- Accident was not investigated by the police
- Accident resulted in death, injury or severe damage to any vehicle.
|How to File a Crash Report:
Obtain Information on the other parties to the crash
- Name, address and phone number
- Driver's license number
- Insurance policy number
- Name and contact information for passengers or pedestrians involved in the accident
Record Information on Vehicles Involved in the Crash
- Make, model and body style
- License plate number
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Description of damage
Submit the report form provided by the Dept. of Transportation
Note: Laws are subject to change. It's important to verify the information you read about by conducting your own research or consulting with a Pennsylvania attorney.
When to File an Accident Report
When a car crash involves the injury or death of any person, or damage to any vehicle involved to the extent that it cannot be driven, the drivers must immediately call the nearest police department. In this type of serious accident, the police typically create the accident report, although the driver may be required to file a supplemental report at the request of the DOT.
If the police do not respond to an accident involving physical injury or serious property damage, it is each driver's responsibility to file an accident report with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT). The report must be filed on the Department's approved form within five days of the accident. Failure to file this form could result in the suspension of your driving privileges.
Benefits of Filing an Accident Report
In Pennsylvania, the law no longer requires police to respond to the scene of an accident where there's no injury or serious damage to property. Many minor accidents also do not need to be reported to the Police or the DOT. However, it is in your best interest to file a report even if you caused the accident.
First, it can be difficult to determine when an accident is "minor" at the scene. Damage to a vehicle is not easily determined on the side of the road, and some physical injuries can materialize weeks later. Also, filing a report will help protect you if an involved party eventually decides to file a claim or exaggerate their damages. Finally, your insurance may require you to report all accidents and not doing so could void your coverage.
How to File a Pennsylvania Crash Report
Filing an auto accident report doesn't need to be difficult. The better the information you can collect at the scene of the crash, the easier it will be to follow these simple steps:
- Obtain a copy of the official accident report form AA-600
- Accident Location: state the name of the city, borough, or township where the accident occurred, as well as the street name or highway number
- Involved Person: Record the name and addresses of all parties to the crash, even uninjured passengers.
- Involved Vehicle: Provide vehicle license number, and insurance information on each vehicle involved in the accident.
- Accident Diagram: This should represent the movement of the vehicles just prior to the accident as well as the point of collision
- Narrative: Describe the actions of all involved persons and vehicles before, during and after the collision. Describe any weather or road conditions that may have caused the accident.
- File Your Report: The completed form must be mailed within five days of the accident to Pennsylvania DOT, Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering, PO Box 2047, Harrisburg, PA 17105
Learn About Your Accident Claim with a Review From an Attorney
If someone was injured in your accident or there was substantial property damage, it's best to consult with an experienced attorney. Your attorney can help maximize your recovery if injured or better defend you if claims are made against you. Get started today with a claim review from a local attorney to learn more about the laws that apply to your claim.