In the wake of a motor vehicle accident, a police report can be a powerful leveraging tool when it comes to negotiating a settlement. It provides detailed information and personal witness statements about the accident itself as well as road conditions, the weather, and other factors. It can include photos and witness statements as well, but it may not be necessary to get a police report for every little fender bender.
Pennsylvania law requires that the police be notified in the event there is a motor vehicle accident that has resulted in personal injury, property damage, or death. A person who is involved in a minor accident that does not meet that criteria may be able to walk away without filing a police report. However, they should first check their insurance policy to make sure. Many insurance carriers require that all accidents that their insureds are in be reported. In that case, a police report is usually necessary.
Duty to Give Information
Pennsylvania is very clear about what the responsibilities are of a driver who has been in an accident. These duties are found under 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3744 and they state that the driver is legally obligated to:
- Provide reasonable assistance (includes taking the injured person to the nearest hospital or calling 9-1-1) to anyone who was injured in the accident
- Provide their full name, address, and VIN to the driver of the other vehicle or to the passengers
- Upon request only – provide driver’s license and insurance information to the other driver.
Police Reports and Pennsylvania Law
Pennsylvania drivers are required by law to report an accident to the nearest police department under these circumstances:
- A police officer is not already present
- Everyone in the other vehicle has been badly injured, to the extent that they are not conscious, are unable to take information or cannot remember it
If a driver is involved in an accident that causes injury, serious injury, or death, they are required by law to remain on the scene. Failure to do can could result in criminal penalties for “leaving the scene of an accident” -otherwise known as a hit and run accident. This can not only incur stiff criminal penalties, drivers may be subject to significant fines and a length of jail term.
Obtaining an Accident Report
When a driver or interested party wants to get an accident report, it is important that they first know if the local police responded or if it was the state police. Each department has its own fee schedule and procedure. Parties that may request an accident report include the drivers involved in the accident, the attorney representing either side of the case, the insurer for either driver, and other official entities or people.
- Scranton Police Department – The Scranton Police Department is the local authority. The price for an Accident Report is $15. The records division handles a lot of different issues, and motor vehicle accidents is one of them. There is a portal where accident report requests are made.
- Pennsylvania State Police – Requests for an Accident Report when the Pennsylvania State Police responded to the accident must be made in writing. An application must be completed and the request should not be submitted earlier than 15 days since the date of the accident. The fee is $22 and should be sent with the request to:
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania State Police
Attention: Crash Reports Unit
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110
How an Accident Report is Used
One or both drivers may opt to get a copy of the police report from the accident. This report should be provided to the insurance company as well as the attorney of any party who was in the accident. It will be very beneficial in helping the insurance company’s investigation to resolve the claim with the other driver’s insurance company. It may also be used in court if the driver decides to pursue a lawsuit against the other driver. The report contains facts and information that can help attorneys, judges, and insurance adjusters better understand the events that occurred as well as any factors that contributed to the cause or severity of the accident.
If you have been in an accident, the caring, experienced attorneys at The Slocum Firm want to help. Call today and find out how we can help you get the compensation that you deserve from your auto accident. Call today; don’t wait another minute.