If you are involved in an accident or collision in Pennsylvania, you must be prepared to act responsibly and in accordance with State law. Following are some general guidelines and more specific requirements to follow in case of an accident.
FIRST AND FOREMOST
As a responsible driver, you must never leave the scene of an accident. Not only is it essential that you provide any necessary help immediately following an accident, but leaving an accident scene can result in having your driving privileges revoked or your license suspended.
After stopping your vehicle, you should pull up as close to the accident as safely possible, without obstructing traffic. Take a moment to assess the situation, and do not panic. Be aware of the traffic situation, and any other potential dangers, such as fire.
You should do your best to provide immediate assistance to other motorists, passengers or pedestrians that may have been injured in the accident. Take extra care when attempting to move an injured person; if possible, wait for an ambulance to arrive. Notify 911 to report any injuries and call for medical assistance. If the accident resulted in injuries, death or property damage, you should inform the local Pennsylvania police.
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to stay calm. If possible, ensure that you are out of danger and not blocking any oncoming traffic. Call or wait for help, and do not attempt to move if you are unable to do so. See Auto Accident Injuries for more information.
If you are involved in an accident in Pennsylvania, you are required to provide certain information to the other parties involved. Likewise, fellow motorists, passengers or pedestrians involved in the accident must share similar information with you. Also, it is often wise to ask for the information of witnesses to the accident just in case you need to have them testify at a later date. The key information to exchange in the aftermath of an accident includes:
- Name, address and contact details.
- Driver license number.
- License plate number of the vehicles involved.
- Auto insurance information for the motorists involved.
It may also be useful to take photographs at the scene of the accident.
If you hit an unattended vehicle, you must make an effort to find the owner or driver, and follow these same procedures. If you are unable to locate the owner of an unattended vehicle, you are required to leave a note indicating your name and contact information, and a brief description of the accident.
REPORTING AN ACCIDENT TO THE PENNSYLVANIA DOT
- In some situations, you must report an accident to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. You are required to complete and submit a Driver’s Accident Report within 5 days of an accident, if the following apply:
- The accident was not investigated by the police.
- The accident resulted in death, injury or severe damage to any vehicle.
- If you fail to report an accident to the Pennsylvania DOT, you may have your license suspended. In the event that another driver offers to pay for damages and asks you not to report an accident, you are still required to file the report in any of the situations outlined above.
- Your report must include detailed and current information regarding your insurance coverage. The DOT will cross-check this information with the insurance company shown on the report. If you did not have liability insurance when the accident occurred, your vehicle registration and driver’s license may be suspended for 3 months. Under the no-fault insurance system you will be covered by your own car coverage policy, even if the accident was the other driver's fault.
- Make a copy of the accident report form for your personal records. You can mail the original report directly to:
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering
P.O. Box 2047 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105-2047
- Notify your auto insurance company if you are involved in an accident.
- See also Auto Accident Injuries.
- In the event that you are injured in an auto accident, consider contacting a personal injury attorney. Retain copies of any medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident.
- See also Driving Record and Driving School.