What Should I Do After Getting in a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?

By Ben Gobel on November 6, 2023

Car Accidient Checklist

Being involved in a severe car accident can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. You might not know what steps to take next. While we would like to believe that we won’t end up in a car accident, it can happen to anyone. Pennsylvania had 117,899 reported car crashes in 2021. This is why it is important to prepare yourself for such an event by understanding what steps need to be taken and the legal considerations following a car accident.

Safety and Assistance

The most important step to take after a car accident in Pennsylvania is to ensure that everyone involved in the car accident gets the medical assistance they need. Move your vehicle to a safe spot if you can and activate your hazard lights. After you are in a safe spot, check yourself for injuries. If you are injured, get immediate medical attention. In some cases, car accident injuries can take a while to show symptoms, so it is always best to get checked by a doctor. Any delay can worsen or complicate the injury.

Contact Law Enforcement and Document the Scene

Another important step is to contact law enforcement to notify them about the accident. It’s best not to assume that the police will arrive at the scene without notification. Call 911 as soon as possible. Once the police arrive, you should cooperate with them by sharing important details about the accident, such as how it happened. The police will write an incident report, which can play a key role as evidence in your insurance claim or lawsuit.

While you are at the accident scene, document it by taking photos or videos of the damage to each vehicle, injuries, and anything that can be used as evidence in a claim or lawsuit. Exchange contact information with other drivers involved in the accident. If the other drivers are not willing to cooperate, stay calm, and avoid heated arguments. You can also check with eyewitnesses to learn if they will be willing to make a statement. Any surveillance footage of the accident can also be useful evidence for your case.

Notify Insurance Companies

Once you have received the required medical attention, waited for the police to arrive at the site, and documented the scene of the accident, it is time to start your claims process. Notify your insurance company about the accident. Pennsylvania is a “choice no-fault” state, which means that the policyholder has the freedom to choose between fault and no-fault when purchasing auto insurance.

With the at-fault system, the driver responsible for the accident is liable to pay for the damages. In a no-fault system, each party involved in the accident can seek compensation from their insurance company, regardless of who was at fault. The no-fault system may have certain thresholds so it is best to consult with a lawyer well-versed in Pennsylvania insurance laws.

Seek Medical Attention and Document Injuries

Seeking medical attention is not only vital to treating injuries but also documents the injury. The medical record that is created when you get treatment helps prove the severity of the injuries and the cost of the treatment. If you don’t get treatment, the opposing party can claim that your injuries were either not a result of the accident or not serious enough to need medical attention. In an attempt to minimize liability for the injuries, the opposing legal party can also argue the injuries were a result of pre-existing conditions. This is why it is crucial for you to get medical attention and document the injury.

Consult an Attorney for Car Accidents in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania uses modified comparative negligence of 51 percent. This means that only the parties that are less than 51 percent at fault for the accident are eligible to recover compensation for the damages. The compensation is adjusted according to the share of fault in the accident.
Have you been involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania? Car accident victims can get in touch with an experienced vehicle accident attorney to discuss their legal options. The lawyer can also assess your case and guide you on the cost of damages in your case. If the insurance company offers a settlement, it is best to consult with an attorney before agreeing to it.