How Long Do I Have to Report a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?

You should always report an auto accident as soon as possible. Failing to do so within five days can result in serious legal consequences. It can also endanger your ability to receive compensation for your injuries and damaged property.

Contact a Pittsburgh personal injury lawyer today to learn more.

Why you should always report an auto accident

The first moments after a car crash are a time of chaos and confusion. Getting your bearings can take several minutes.

When you are able, contacting law enforcement (and EMTs, if anyone is hurt) should be at the top of your list. Here’s why:

  • To comply with the law: State authorities take a dim view of drivers who fail to report an accident. Highway officials use the data provided by car crash reports to guide public policy and to prevent future accidents.
  • To protect yourself: Failing to file an accident report can rob you of the proof you need to refute the other driver in case they accuse you of causing injuries or vehicle damage.
  • To give yourself valuable peace of mind: Knowing that you’ve covered all the bases can help you to focus on healing.
  • To lay a strong factual foundation, in case you decide to pursue legal action: You never know how an auto collision will ultimately turn out. A report is a valuable piece of evidence to have on your side, should you need the help of a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer.

What about minor accidents?

Technically, Pennsylvania allows parties involved in “minor” auto accidents to forego filing a report. But this is seldom a good idea.

For example, let’s say you’re involved in a low-speed fender bender in which neither vehicle suffers visible damage, and no one has an injury requiring immediate medical attention.

Does this mean you should simply shake hands with the other driver and go about your business? Not necessarily. That’s because the effects of an auto accident can take time to become noticeable.

For example, the collision may have caused trauma to your spine that later leads to neck or back pain. Getting compensation for the care you need is easier when you take the time to document everything.

What if the police don’t show up?

Sometimes law enforcement officers do not show up at the scene of an accident, either because the collision is minor or the people involved in the wreck are unable to summon help.

If you find yourself in this situation, then you must still file an accident report with the PA DOT within five days after the collision. Failing to do so can lead to suspension of your driver’s license.

When it’s time to seek legal help

It’s always a good idea to talk to a Pittsburgh car accident attorney. Having a law firm on your side tells insurance companies and at-fault parties that you’re serious about receiving fair treatment.

It also allows the law firm to investigate the incident and determine whether unforeseen factors such as mechanical defects or unaddressed road hazards played a role. This happens more often than you may think.

Last but not least, talking to an attorney can help you to feel empowered in the face of the accident and its aftermath. Why let insurance examiners and other third parties decide your fate when you can stand up for yourself and achieve a better outcome in the process?

Contact us today

Our attorneys have recovered more than $1 billion for their clients over the years, a figure which speaks for itself. Put their skills to work for you by contacting us today.

We’re available 24/7, either online or by giving us a phone call. Remember, our core value is “Doing Good by Doing Right.”