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How Long Do You Have to File a Police Report After an Incident in Pennsylvania?

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Injured In A Car Accident? Need To File An Accident Report? Contact One Of Our Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyers

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Filing a Police Report After an Accident in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, getting a police report after a crash is important for both legal and insurance purposes. Crash reports serve as an official record detailing the circumstances surrounding the accident, including date, time, location, and the involved parties. Police reports document the sequence of events, statements from witnesses or involved individuals, and any citations or violations issued. Information included in a police report also aids in determining fault and liability, and can significantly impact insurance claims and legal proceedings. Collaborating with law enforcement to create a thorough and precise report can strengthen your car accident case and assist in navigating the aftermath of an accident.

How Long Do You Have to File a Police Report After an Accident in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, it’s advisable to report a car accident to the police as soon as possible. However, for most accidents, if immediate reporting is not feasible, you have a grace period of up to five days following the accident to file the police report.

In Pennsylvania, there isn’t a specific time frame mandated for filing a police report after a car accident, unless the accident involves injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000. In these cases, Pennsylvania law requires reporting accidents to the nearest police department or the Pennsylvania State Police within five (5) days. Reporting the accident within this five-day window helps ensure that the incident is properly documented, assists in determining fault, and facilitates the handling of insurance claims and legal matters associated with the accident.

While the law doesn’t specify an exact deadline for reporting accidents that do not meet the above criteria, delaying the report beyond the five-day timeframe could potentially impact the accuracy of the information recorded and might complicate insurance claims or legal proceedings related to the accident. We recommend reporting accidents to law enforcement as soon as possible after a wreck to ensure details are accurate and complete.

Can You File a Police Report After an Accident in PA?

Yes, you can file a police report after an accident if police aren’t called to the scene at the time of an accident. In fact, it’s recommended to report accidents to law enforcement, especially if there are injuries, property damage, or if the accident results in a hit-and-run.

Do I Have to File an Accident Report in Pennsylvania?

Image of Pennsylvania police crash report to be filed within 5 days of the car accident.

Pennsylvania law requires reporting accidents that involve injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000 to the nearest police department or to the PA State Police within five days. Typically, if any of the above circumstances occur, police will be called to the scene of the accident and a report will be created as part of the investigation. If this is the case, you can contact the police department for a copy of your Pennsylvania car accident report a few days after the accident.

What Happens if You Don’t File a Police Report After an Accident in PA?

If the accident results in injury, death, or there is property damage exceeding $1,000, you are required by law to report the accident to law enforcement. If you are in an accident that does not meet the above criteria, you are not required to file a report. However, we still recommend reporting the accident to ensure future coverage if injuries are discovered that weren’t obvious immediately after the crash. Accidents are stressful and confusing, and some injuries can take weeks or even months to become apparent.

If the failure to report is seen as an attempt to avoid responsibility or conceal information related to the accident, there may be legal consequences. Additionally, not reporting a wreck can also impact insurance claims and settlements and legal cases, potentially complicating the resolution process and affecting both coverage and compensation.

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How Long After an Accident Can You File a Police Report in PA?

In Pennsylvania, there isn’t a specific statute of limitations that dictates the time limit for reporting a car accident to law enforcement for the purposes of documentation. However, there are time frames related to legal actions arising from car accidents.

There is a two-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit resulting from a car accident in Pennsylvania. This means that if someone wishes to bring a lawsuit for injuries sustained in a car accident, they generally have two years from the date of the accident to file the lawsuit.

It’s important to differentiate between reporting an accident to law enforcement for documentation purposes and the time limits for legal actions related to injuries or property damage resulting from the accident. While there might not be a strict deadline for reporting the accident to the police, there are limitations on when legal actions stemming from the accident can be pursued in the courts.

Depending on where the car accident occured, you might be wondering:

Car Accident Lawyer in Montgomery County, PA Near MeWhat Happens if You Don’t Report a Car Accident to Police in Pennsylvania?

Penalties for failing to report an accident in Pennsylvania that results in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000 to police can range from fines to misdemeanor charges in more severe cases, especially if the failure to report is deemed an attempt to evade responsibility or conceal information related to the accident. Failing to report an accident can have serious legal consequences, including:

  • Fines: The specific fines or penalties for failing to report an accident in Pennsylvania can depend on various factors, including whether the failure to report was intentional, the extent of the damage or injuries involved, and the discretion of law enforcement or the courts handling the case.
  • Legal Charges: If someone fails to report an accident as required by Pennsylvania law and it’s determined that the failure was deliberate or intentional, it could potentially lead to misdemeanor charges. Misdemeanor charges in Pennsylvania are categorized as first, second, or third-degree misdemeanors, each carrying different levels of penalties ranging from fines to jail time.
  • How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident to Your Insurance in PA?

Just like notifying the police after an accident, we recommend informing your insurance company after a car accident. Although state regulations might not set a strict deadline, most insurance policies encourage reporting accidents promptly. It’s crucial to differentiate between reporting the incident to your insurer and officially filing a claim.

Insurers often prefer immediate or timely reporting due to various reasons:

  • Policy Requirements: Auto insurance policies frequently include clauses mandating prompt accident reporting. Delaying reporting might impact your coverage or complicate the claims process.
  • Swift Investigation: Reporting the accident helps the insurance company investigate, determine fault, and evaluate damages more accurately, and makes the claims procedure more efficient.
  • Legal Safeguards: Timely reporting ensures compliance with insurance policy terms, offering legal protection and averting potential coverage denials resulting from delayed reporting.

Although a specific legal time frame might not exist, reporting the accident sooner enhances the claims initiation process and ensures adherence to your insurance policy obligations. Understanding your insurance policy’s specific requirements regarding accident reporting can further guarantee compliance with their guidelines.


Do I Need a Lawyer After a Pennsylvania Car Accident?

Whether you need a lawyer after a car accident in Pennsylvania can depend on a variety of factors. For minor accidents where there are no injuries and the property damage is minimal, you might not need a lawyer. In fact, insurance companies often recommend you handle these claims directly with them. Unfortunately, this is not always in your best interest. There are situations where involving a lawyer can be beneficial, including:

  • Serious Injuries: If you or anyone involved sustained severe injuries, a lawyer will help navigate complex legal and insurance matters to ensure you receive fair compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
  • Disputed Liability: When fault for the accident is contested or unclear, a lawyer can gather evidence, assess the situation, and advocate on your behalf to ensure your rights are protected.
  • Complexities in the Case: Accidents involving multiple parties, uninsured motorists, or when the insurance company tries to dispute your claim can benefit from legal representation.
  • Dealing with Insurance Companies: An injury lawyer will negotiate with insurance companies to ensure you’re not taken advantage of in settlement offers so you can focus on recovery.
  • I was Injured in a Pennsylvania Motorcycle Accident (click the link for more info)
  • I was Injured in a Pennsylvania Truck Accident (click the link for more info)


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Ultimately, consulting with a Pennsylvania car accident lawyer near you will help provide clarity on your legal options and help determine whether legal representation is necessary based on the specifics of your case. The experts at Pearce Law Firm are here to answer all of your questions. We provide free consultations to assess your case and are always happy to assist you in determining if you have a case. Contact Us today or call our office at (215) 557-8686!

Steps to Take After a Car Accident – A Guide From Edith Pearce

Car accidents are scary and overwhelming. No matter where you’ve been in an accident, it’s always a good idea to have an experienced advocate in your corner. Accident lawyer Edith Pearce explains what you need to do after being injured in a car accident.

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