Whether police respond to the scene of your car accident or not, in Pennsylvania you are required by law to report car accidents under certain circumstances.
The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Cousin Benny tell you when you must call the police, what you should and shouldn’t say to them, how to get a copy of the accident report, and how to file your own accident report.
If you’ve suffered a car crash, contact Cousin Benny for help getting the compensation you deserve. Call us today to find out how much your case is worth – free of charge!
When Is It Necessary to Call the Police after a Crash?
You would be wise to call the police in any car accident, however minor. A police report preserves evidence, such as the date, time, location of the accident, the parties involved, the weather conditions, and conclusions about the cause of the accident, if conclusions can be made.
The report will also note if any citations were issued, which is important when determining who was at fault for causing the accident.
Pennsylvania law requires that you report all but the most minor car crashes to the police. In car accidents where there are no injuries and the cars may be driven away on their own, the drivers involved in the accident do not have to call the police.
What Should I Say to the Police?
First, you should tell the police immediately if you believe you are injured or one of your passengers is injured and needs assistance.
You should answer all questions from the police if you are able, but do not admit fault. It is acceptable to say “I don’t know” if you cannot answer any of the questions asked.
Will the Police Officer File an Accident Report?
Yes, if the police respond to the scene of your car accident they will write and file an accident report. Copies will then be available from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDot).
What Information Will a Car Accident Report Contain?
When police arrive at the scene of a car accident, the officers’ first priority is to make the scene safe and check for injuries. Once the scene is secure and the police have gotten contact information from all parties involved, they investigate the cause of the accident by inspecting the vehicles, speaking with drivers, passengers, and witnesses, and photographing the site.
The police report memorializes the evidence and information the police gleaned during this investigation, such as:
- The date and time of the car accident
- The location of the car accident
- The weather conditions at the time of the accident
- The names and contact information of all drivers and passengers involved
- The names and contact information of any witnesses
- Each driver’s insurance information
- An explanation or diagram of how the accident happened
- Description of injuries sustained by anyone in the car accident
- The makes, models, and descriptions of each vehicle involved
- A description of damage to any vehicles
The police report may also include any conclusions of fault and will indicate if the police officer issued any citations.
How to Request a Police Accident Report in Pennsylvania?
There are two ways to obtain your PA crash report. You can purchase a copy of your police accident report online through the Online Crash Report Requests website, or you can request a copy by mailing the required form and payment to the Crash Reports Unit in Harrisburg, PA.
Request Your Report Online
Visit the Online Crash Report Requests website and search either by incident number or your name and date of the accident. When you locate your report, add it to your cart and complete the $22 purchase. The crash report will then be emailed to you.
Request Your Report by Mail
Fill out the form SP7-0015, “Application to Obtain Copy of Police Crash Report,” with the date, time, and location of the accident, incident number, and other requested information. Print this form and mail it along with a certified check or money order made payable to “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” for $22 to:
Attention: Crash Reports Unit
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110
You will receive your report in the mail.
How Can a Police Report Help Me?
Because a police report contains a professional, neutral third party assessment of the scene, it is valuable evidence should you need to prove damages or fault. The police report will also contain the contact info of everyone involved in the accident and any other witnesses, should you need their testimony, and the insurance company information for all drivers involved.
What if the Police Do Not Respond to the Scene of the Accident?
Under Pennsylvania law, all drivers involved in a car accident must report it to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) if any of the following circumstances apply:
- Any injury occurred, even if not life-threatening
- Any party involved lost their life
- Vehicle damage prevented any party from driving away from the scene
Your report must be filed within five (5) days of the car accident.
Why You Need a Car Accident Lawyer
Insurance companies are like any other business – they exist to make a profit. The more they collect in premiums and the less they pay in claims, the more profit they make. To this end, insurance companies are notorious for delaying or underpaying claims, and they have a team of lawyers working to deprive deserving claimants of the money they are due.
Level the playing field by working with an experienced car accident lawyer in your jurisdiction.
Your car accident lawyer represents you in settlement negotiations with the insurance companies. In addition to the police report, your lawyer gathers evidence by investigating on their own to prove fault and consulting with forensic accountants and medical experts to assess the amount of your damages.
If the insurance company does not offer an acceptable settlement, your car accident lawyer will file a lawsuit for you to get you the compensation you deserve.
About Cousin Benny
The Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Cousin Benny have over fifteen years collective experience helping people get the compensation they are due following a car accident. Call us today to discuss your case, free of charge!