Have you or someone you know ever been involved in a fender bender? You have, at the very least, driven past them on the highway during rush hour. Minor car accidents are fairly common and typically involve some property damage, but major injuries can also happen depending on the circumstance.
If you are involved in a minor traffic accident, you may wonder if you need to report it to the authorities. Here’s what you should keep in mind:
To Whom Should You Report the Accident?
There are two major entities that car accidents should be reported to in Pennsylvania: law enforcement and insurance companies, and both represent very different roles.
Law enforcement has the ability to assess the scene of the accident. They are also able to question witnesses to the accident in the hopes that they can provide some insight to what happened. This can be critical if there is a dispute between you and the other party as to who is at fault. They can also record any evidence at the scene, like skid marks or the location of debris from the accident.
Insurance companies are ultimately responsible for paying out the damages that result from an accident. Even an accident that seems minor can have serious financial repercussions. Finally, in Pennsylvania, insurance policies almost always require that any traffic accident must be reported to the insurance company.
When You Must Report Accidents to Law Enforcement
There are two main situations in which a traffic accident must be reported to law enforcement in Pennsylvania. The first is when an accident results in injury or death. The second is when a vehicle is too badly damaged to drive away from the accident and must be towed or removed by other means. (Read more here: 75 Pa.C.S. §3747)
If, by rare circumstances, law enforcement is unable to make it to the scene of the accident before everything is resolved, all parties involved must fill out Form AA-600 within five days of the accident.
Why You Should Always Report an Accident
While it may seem like a hassle to you, it’s actually to your benefit to report an accident. There may be damage to your car that is not visibly obvious, or worse you could actually be hurt and not realize it. It’s not uncommon for a person to not feel any pain until a few days after an accident. If you don’t get a police report, it’s your word against the other driver’s. They could blame you for an accident you didn’t cause. Having a police report strengthens your claim and makes it much easier to recover damages if you weren’t at fault.
In addition it is NEVER a good idea to agree with the other driver to “work things out privately” and not report the accident to your insurance companies. People often change their minds about who was at fault, and often fail to live up to their agreement to pay for all property damage after they leave the accident scene. It is always a good idea to report all accidents to law enforcement and your insurance carrier, no matter how minor.
Do You Need Legal Assistance Due to a Minor Car Accident?
If you need legal assistance because of a minor traffic accident, then trust the attorneys at Freeburn & Hamilton to give you the representation you deserve. Contact us today to talk about your case.