What to do after a car accident in Pennsylvania?

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August J. Ober, IV - Personal Injury - General - Super Lawyers

Answered by: August J. Ober, IV

Located in West Chester, PALaw Offices of August J. Ober, IV & Associates

West Chester, PA
Phone: 610-936-6865
Fax: 484-551-0436

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Nobody gets behind the steering wheel expecting to get into a wreck. Fortunately, most of us can go many years without getting into a serious accident. The auto insurance industry says that statistically, drivers will file an accident claim every 17.9 years. If you got your driver’s license between the ages of 16 and 18, it means that you are likely to be involved in two or three reportable crashes over your driving life.

But if this is your first car accident in Pennsylvania, what you should and shouldn’t do may not be intuitive. And if you have been driving for many years, some of the rules have changed since your high school behind-the-wheel driving lessons.

According to Pennsylvania law enforcement officials and insurance carriers, here are the best steps you can take at the scene and in the hours and days following the accident.

Do These

  1. Call the police. Having a crash report made preserves vital information for your case and insurance carrier.
  2. Take photos of the accident scene, license plates, position of vehicles, property damage and the other driver’s license and insurance card. Gather contact information for witnesses. If you must move your vehicle from an unsafe place, always take a quick photo of the post-accident position of the vehicles before moving them.
  3. If the police request information for their report – cooperate. If you are not at fault, clearly explain the facts that support your belief. Don’t be afraid to give an account that conflicts with the other driver and if you need to speak with the police out of the other driver’s presence – ask to do so.
  4. Tell the police if you feel injured, even if just a little. Oftentimes “bumps and bruises” turn out to be serious injuries as time goes on and adrenaline wears off. If you suspect you are injured, err on the side of caution and accept medical attention and/or transportation by ambulance to the emergency room.
    1. Rest assured, every insurance policy for Pennsylvania private passenger motor vehicles provides at least $5,000 in medical (PIP) coverage for these things, even BEFORE your medical insurance kicks in. Unlike health insurance, with PIP coverage you will never incur a co-pay or deductible, EVER.
  5. Take photos of your injuries.
  6. Contact a skilled personal injury attorney promptly. Always speak with an attorney prior to giving a statement to any insurance company employee/adjuster – EVEN YOUR OWN! An honest statement given without careful thought may negatively impact an injury claim or liability determination.

Don’t Do These

  1. DON’T admit fault to anyone. Legal fault and feeling bad/apologetic for having an accident are different concepts entirely.
  2. DON’T try to “tough out” your injury. Often what first seems like a minor nagging injury is much worse. The longer you delay treatment, the more likely an insurance company will assume you are not hurt or exaggerating the extent of your injuries.
    1. Family, work and other commitments can make getting treatment a hassle – but put your health first and don’t avoid medical help. Keep all appointments and always follow doctor’s orders.
  3. DON’T discuss your accident or injury on social media. The content you post is often discovered in a lawsuit. Seemingly harmless comments or photos may later be used to harm your case.
  4. DON’T delay in contacting an attorney.

We can help protect your rights and help report your claim to the insurance company. We also help with explaining various coverage terms like, property damage/collision, comprehensive, tort, stacking, UM/UIM, etc. Keep in mind, it is your duty to promptly report claims to your insurance carrier – so don’t delay in contacting an attorney for help. Our firm will not charge a fee for discussing your case, providing guidance after an accident or lending assistance filing your claim.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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