Pennsylvania Car Accident Laws

If involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania, drivers must exchange information with all others involved if damage was caused. Here’s what to do next.
Written by Sean Boehme
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you’re in an accident that causes damage, car accident laws in
require you to provide your personal information and car insurance details to other involved parties. You may be able to
file a car insurance claim
or a personal injury lawsuit depending on the specifics of the accident.
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What to do after a crash: Pennsylvania car accident reporting laws

After a car accident
, the first thing you should do is ensure both you and your passengers are unharmed. If somebody is hurt, you shouldn’t hesitate to call 911 and request medical assistance. 
Assuming you can do so safely, check to see if the other involved parties are okay, too. Pennsylvania law requires you to provide “reasonable assistance” to other parties after an accident. This mostly just means calling an ambulance if need be.
After you’ve confirmed that everyone is okay, you’ll need to exchange your identity, registration, and insurance information with the other drivers involved in the crash. You should also carefully document any damage with photos, as it may be necessary if you want to file a car accident claim. 
Depending on the accident, you may also need to report it to:
  • The police
  • The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation
  • Your insurance company

When to report an accident to the police

If you’re involved in a minor accident where nobody is injured and all vehicles can still be safely driven, there is no need to call the police. However, if someone is injured or a car needs to be towed to move it safely, you need to let law enforcement know
If a police officer is nearby at the time of your crash, you can expect them to stop and investigate the scene. After, they will file a report, meaning you won’t have to do so. 

When to report an accident to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation

If you’re involved in a minor accident that doesn’t require the police, you should instead file a crash report with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
You’ll need to have all of the information given to you by the other drivers available in order to complete this process. You’ll have up to five days after the accident to complete this form and send it to the following address:
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Bureau of Maintenance P.O. Box 2047 Harrisburg, PA 17105-2047

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Pennsylvania’s insurance laws

Like most states,
Pennsylvania car insurance laws
are strict concerning the minimum amount of car insurance that drivers need to have. If you drive without having the proper coverage or let your coverage lapse, you’ll face fines of as hefty as $300 and your license could be suspended.
In Pennsylvania, you’re required to carry at least 15/30/5 liability coverage. You’re also required to have at least $5,000 in personal injury protection. That means your policy must include:
Fortunately, Pennsylvania has an exceptionally high percentage of insured drivers, as only about 6% are uninsured. If you get into a car accident without carrying the required coverage in PA, it could limit your ability to claim damages or file a personal injury lawsuit
Although liability coverage and PIP are the only coverages required in Pennsylvania, it’s still worth considering additional options.
Full-coverage insurance
ties in PA’s minimum requirements with
collision insurance
comprehensive coverage
and is a popular choice for drivers. 

Claiming damages after an accident: Pennsylvania's injury laws

Filing a claim for car insurance generally isn’t too complicated, but Pennsylvania’s rules do make understanding the process more difficult. Pennsylvania is a
choice “no-fault” state
, which means where you file a claim will depend on what type of coverage you have.
In some cases, you’ll be compensated through your personal injury protection coverage, while in other cases, you might file a claim with another driver's liability coverage. If you aren’t sure which type of coverage you have, be sure to call your provider and check
No matter how serious the injury or damage, you’ll have two years to file a claim in Pennsylvania. The same length of time applies to any lawsuit you intend to file beyond your insurance claim. 

Who’s to blame: Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence

Assuming your car insurance coverage takes fault into account, you need to understand
how comparative negligence works in Pennsylvania
. There are three main types of negligence laws used today. 
  • Pure comparative negligence: All parties involved in an accident are responsible for damages in proportion to the amount they are at fault.
  • Modified comparative negligence: All parties involved in an accident are responsible for damages in proportion to the amount they are at fault, but parties over 50% at fault cannot claim damages at all. 
  • Contributory negligence: Parties who are any amount at fault for an accident cannot claim damages. 
Like the majority of states in the U.S., Pennsylvania follows the modified comparative negligence model. If you are less than 50% responsible for an accident, you’ll be able to file a claim for damages.
As an example, let's say Thomas and Jake are in an accident. Thomas failed to stop at a red light, although Jake was driving well over the speed limit. 
If Thomas was 70% at fault, then he'd be responsible for paying 70% of Jake’s damages. Jake wouldn’t have to pay 30% of Thomas’ damages since drivers over 50% at fault cannot file a claim.
Although there remains debate over which system is the fairest, modified comparative negligence is the most popular and is utilized by 33 states. Keep in mind, however, that getting into an accident in another state will mean following their rules. 

How to save money on car insurance in Pennsylvania

Having great
car insurance
is the best way to protect yourself, but reliable coverage doesn’t always come cheap. If you’re a Pennsylvania driver who feels like you are overspending on car insurance, consider downloading Jerry.
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