The Complete Pennsylvania Car Accident Guide

Pennsylvania car accidentToday’s cars are built with safety features designed to minimize property damage and reduce injuries. But despite the fact that most accidents today are mere “fender-benders”, there are still an estimated 2 million people who will be injured this year in the US.¹  In fact, the average driver will be involved in 3 – 4 car accidents during their lifetime.²

The State of Pennsylvania is no exception. Recent statistics show that over 80,000 people are injured in a Pennsylvania car accident each year.³

What You Need to Know if You’ve Been in a Pennsylvania Car Accident…

The decisions you make at an accident scene are crucial. Knowing what to say and do can make all the difference in a successful property damage or personal injury claim. To help you through this critical time, we’ve compiled 11 steps you should take after an accident, along with answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Note: All laws referenced are from Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Statute: Vehicle Code

Step 1 – Stop, Call 911 and Help the Injured

Pennsylvania stop call helpAccident scenes are often chaotic. Broken glass can be strewn across the highway, fluids may be leaking from engines, drivers may be disoriented, and traffic may be ominously close.

Pennsylvania law requires drivers involved in the collision to stop immediately at the scene, or as close to it as is reasonably possible. Once stopped, it’s up to each driver to determine if anyone, including themselves may be injured.

Physically able drivers must assist the injured and make them as comfortable as possible while waiting for help. Drivers must also call 911 and report the accident.

When I dial 911, what specific information should I give the dispatcher?
Give the 911 dispatcher the following information:

Location: Be specific. Look for the nearest street sign or landmark. Giving the dispatcher specific location information assures that police and paramedics will arrive promptly. This is especially important if there are injuries, or the accident scene is presenting a danger to others.

Scene: Car accidents are never neat. There’s likely broken glass and twisted metal thrown around the area. This can be dangerous to other drivers and pedestrians who may be passing dangerously close to the accident scene. Tell the 911 dispatcher if traffic is coming close to the vehicles involved, or if the accident is impeding traffic.

Injuries: Many injuries are obvious. These includes bleeding, abrasions, contusions, fractures, or even simple cries of pain and discomfort. Tell the 911 dispatcher if there are obvious signs of injuries, or if anyone is complaining of pain, discomfort, dizziness, or nausea.

Will the police be dispatched?
Each law enforcement agency has its own policies controlling when police officers and paramedics get dispatched to an accident scene. Most agencies do not dispatch emergency personnel unless injuries are present or the accident scene presents a danger to others.

What are my legal duties at the accident?
Drivers involved in an accident must render “reasonable assistance” to anyone injured in the accident. That assistance includes driving the injured to a local hospital or arranging transportation for them.

What information am I required to give others involved in the accident?
Drivers involved in a Pennsylvania car accident must provide the following to anyone who sustained property damage or was injured:

  • Their full names
  • Name of car owner (if different from driver)
  • Residence addresses
  • Car registration information
  • License plate number

What if I’m injured?
You may have sustained obvious injuries in the accident. These may include bruising, bleeding, fractures, nausea, and/or dizziness. Unfortunately, other injuries may not be so obvious. Symptoms of swelling, bruising, strains, and sprains may not manifest for several hours, or even days after an accident.

When you’re involved in a car accident, adrenaline is pumped into your bloodstream by your adrenal glands. Adrenaline can mask the symptoms of some injuries. When paramedics arrive, let them properly evaluate you. They are trained to determine if injuries are serious enough to require transportation to a local emergency room. If the paramedics aren’t dispatched to the accident scene, it’s still a good idea to be checked out by your regular physician as soon as possible.

Note: It’s important that you be medically evaluated as soon as possible following an accident. If you do not seek immediate treatment for an injury resulting from the crash, the insurance company will likely take the position that your injuries were the result of something other than the accident and deny any subsequent personal injury claim.

Step 2 – Report the Accident to Local Police

Pennsylvania call policeDo I have to report the accident to the police?
It depends. Section 3746 (a) of the Pennsylvania Code requires drivers involved in accidents to immediately contact the local police department and report the accident if any of the following occurred:

  • injury to any person involved
  • death of any person
  • damage to any vehicle involved to the extent that it cannot be driven under its own power

What if I crashed into a car and the owner can’t be found?
If you collide with another car or piece of property which is unattended and there is damage, you must stop immediately and attempt to locate the owner. Once located, you must provide them with your name, address, and insurance information.

If the property owner can’t be found, you must must leave a note describing what happened along with your name, address, insurance details, registration number and contact information. Leave this information in a spot that’s easy to find. You must also contact the nearest police department and report the incident to them as well.

Are the police required to complete an accident report?
Yes. When police officers are dispatched to the scene of an accident, they are required to complete a written accident report. The report must include the following:

  • Names of all drivers and passengers involved
  • Written statements from witnesses (where applicable)
  • Weather conditions
  • Date and approximate time of the accident
  • Cause of the accident
  • A diagram of the accident scene
  • Any other relevant and pertinent information

Can I get a copy of the accident report?
Yes. Pennsylvania law requires police departments to make accident reports available to drivers and other interested parties.

To obtain a copy of an accident report, download Form SP 7-0015 Application to Obtain Copy of Police Crash Report. When you have completed the form, mail it along with a money order or certified check in the amount of $22 to:

Pennsylvania State Police
ATTN: Crash Reports Unit
1800 Elmerton Ave
Harrisburg, PA 17110

Note: Following an incident, you may have to wait 15 days before the accident report is made available to you.

Step 3 – Gather Evidence From the Scene

Pennsylvania collect evidenceThe information you gather from the accident scene will serve as the foundation upon which you’ll build a viable property damage and personal injury claim. The evidence will support your claim for “damages.

What are Damages?
In property damage and personal injury claims, “damages” refer to the following:

  • Compensation or reimbursement for medical and therapy bills including diagnostic tests such as:
    – X-Rays
    – MRIs
    – CT Scans
  • Reimbursement for out of pocket expenses such as:
    – Cost of medication
    – Crutches
    – Slings
    – Costs of travel to and from treatment
    – Parking fees
  • Lost wages
  • Compensation for pain and suffering

What information will I need to help my claim?
While at the scene of the accident, try to obtain the following:

  • Details about the vehicles involved:
    – Make, model, and year
    – License plate number
    – Expiration date of the tags
    – Vehicle identification number (VIN)
    Note: The VIN number can normally be found on the car’s dashboard in the left corner where it meets the windshield. It can also be found on the driver’s insurance card, or inside the door jam of the driver’s side door.
  • Drivers and passengers information:
    – Full names and addresses
    – Telephone numbers and email addresses
    – Dates of birth
    – Driver’s license numbers
    Note: If the driver isn’t the owner of the car, you’ll need to get the owner’s name and contact information as well.
  • Witnesses statements, along with witnesses’ names and contact information
  • A well drawn diagram of the accident scene:
    – Location of the cars immediately before and after the collision
    – Approximate speed of the cars immediately before the collision
    – Direction each car was headed
    – Weather conditions at the time of the accident
    – Time of day the accident occurred

Are photographs and video important?
Yes! Photographs and video taken at the scene can be very valuable in property damage and personal injury cases. Use a digital camera, cell phone, iPad or other electronic device to take multiple photos and videos of the crash scene. Be sure to include sound so you can capture possible witness statements, other drivers’ admission of fault, possible intoxication, etc.

Photos and videos can also help identify the position of the cars immediately after the collision, weather conditions, or any road hazards that could have contributed to the accident. They can also reflect the demeanor of the other drivers, passengers, and any witnesses at the time of the accident.

By taking photographs and video, you’re essentially recording evidence that’s difficult for anyone involved to dispute later.

Are witness statements important?
Yes! Witness statements can be quite important in pursuing your claim. While witnesses aren’t under any legal obligation to speak with you or give any kind of written statement, persuading them to do so can be extremely helpful.

If you can find witnesses who agree to speak with you, get some paper and a pen and ask each of them individually to write down what they saw and heard. If they believe the other driver was at fault, make sure they include that statement as well as their reason for feeling that way.

Be sure to get their mailing address and phone number so they can be contacted at a later time by insurance investigators and others who may have questions. When their written statement is complete, have them sign and date every page.

Step 4 – Contact Your Insurance Company

Pennsylvania call insuranceYour car insurance policy is a binding contract between you (the “insured”) and your insurance company (the “insurer”). Your policy likely has something called a Notice of Occurrence and/or Cooperation Clause somewhere within the policy information.

This clause represents a contractual obligation between you and the insurance company. It requires the insured to notify the insurer after an accident, regardless of fault, and to cooperate in the investigation of the accident.

The standard Cooperation and Notice of Occurrence clause will read something like this:

The Insured (you) agrees to notify the underwriter (your insurance company) of any accidents and thereafter to provide all the information, assistance and cooperation which (the company) reasonably requests. The insured also agrees that in the event of a property damage or personal injury claim, the insured will fully cooperate with (the company) and do nothing that shall prejudice the company’s position in the claim….

How does the Notice of Occurrence and Cooperation Clause affect me?
This clause in your insurance policy may seem trivial, but it can affect you in several ways:

First, by requiring that you notify the carrier when you’re in an accident, it allows your insurance company ample time to investigate and prepare for any potential claims made by the other driver.

Second, the clause also protects you in some cases by requiring the insurance company to provide you with legal representation if needed.

Third, by failing to cooperate with this clause, you could potentially have your policy cancelled by your carrier or they may fail to renew it upon expiration.

Won’t my insurance premiums rise if I report the accident?
Insurance companies have different policies with regards to increasing rates after an accident. Usually your rates will not increase after a single incident, especially if it was not your fault.

Many of them allow one minor accident without any increase in your premium. Other companies allow multiple accidents before a rate increase, but that comes with a higher base premium.

Contact your insurance company to learn more about rate increases, accident forgiveness, and other fees.

I didn’t cause the accident and nobody was injured. Do I still have to call my insurance company?
Commonly referred to as “fender-benders,” these accidents involve very minor damage and no injuries. You may be tempted not to report the accident to your insurance company in these cases.

The fender bender may appear to have been without injuries and no big deal. However, with a closer look you may find that not reporting the accident to your insurance company is a serious mistake.

Here are a few reasons why:

Delayed Symptoms: The other driver or passengers may believe they weren’t injured, but the onset of symptoms for some injuries can take hours, sometimes even days to appear. This makes injuries you didn’t think existed suddenly become very real.

No Insurance: The other driver may not have property damage or personal liability coverage. If so, that’s the last thing they want you to know because you might call the police. The other driver knows that if that happens, they could be ticketed or even arrested.

Fraud: While at the scene, the driver and his passengers may say they weren’t injured. Later, they may decide to “cash-in” on the accident by filing fraudulent claims of whiplash and other injuries.

By promptly notifying and then cooperating with your own insurance company, you’re giving them sufficient time to investigate the incident. Your insurance company needs to hear your side of the story as soon as possible after the accident. This is especially important if the other driver decides the accident was your fault and not theirs.

What will my insurance company do if I don’t report the accident?
If you don’t report an accident to your insurance company, they could cancel your policy, raise your premiums, or opt not to renew your policy when it expires. You need to report any accident to them as soon as possible.

Do I need to contact the other driver’s insurance company too?
Yes. If you’ve been in a Pennsylvania car accident and have an injury or property damage, contact the other driver’s insurance company and report the accident. You will be assigned a claim number and will be contacted by a claims adjuster.

In many cases, there are two adjusters assigned to your claim: one to handle the property damage and the other the personal injury aspect. Be sure to obtain both claim numbers. You’ll need them for future communication with the insurance company.

Are there mobile applications that can be used to report accidents to insurance companies?
Yes. There are many free mobile applications to help you report an accident to your insurance company. They can help you:

  • Take and store pictures and videos
  • Store and transmit personal information (including driver’s license info, insurance info, etc.)
  • Create and send crash reports to state authorities
  • Help you draw a diagram of the accident scene
  • Access GPS location of the scene
  • Store witness statements and contact information

Check with your insurance company to see if they have a mobile application you can download. Here are some common apps presently available:

Google Accident Report
Geico Insurance Company
Allstate Mobile
Nationwide Insurance
State Farm

Step 5 – Car Insurance Requirements

Pennsylvania insuranceDrivers on Pennsylvania’s roadways are required to carry personal liability and property damage insurance. This assures anyone who sustains property damage or personal injuries in an accident will be fairly compensated for their losses.

What are the minimum amounts of car insurance required by the State of Pennsylvania?
The State of Pennsylvania requires drivers to carry minimum coverage in the amounts of:

  • $15,000 for injuries to one person in one accident
  • $30,000 for injuries sustained by two or more people in one accident
  • $5,000 for property damage in one accident
  • $5,000 for no-fault Personal Injury Protection , or “PIP” coverage

Does Pennsylvania law require drivers to carry under-insured or uninsured coverage?
No. Pennsylvania law does not require drivers to carry uninsured or under-insured motorist coverage.

How can I find out more about Pennsylvania car insurance requirements?
For more information on Pennsylvania car insurance requirements, read the insurance fact sheet and visit the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation website.

Step 6 – Understanding No-Fault Insurance

Pennsylvania no-faultWhen it comes to car insurance, the State of Pennsylvania uses both a “no-fault” system and a 3rd party liability system. Under Pennsylvania’s no-fault system, after a car accident a driver may turn to his or her own insurance company for compensation for injuries up to the personal injury protection, or “PIP”  limit. This is the case regardless of who was at fault.

However, drivers also have the right to circumvent Pennsylvania’s no-fault law and proceed directly against the at-fault driver under certain circumstances. This can be done when the accident resulted in serious injury. According to Pennsylvania State law, this is generally defined as the impairment of a body function or permanent and serious disfigurement.

Unlike most states which rely solely on a no-fault insurance system, Pennsylvania drivers may choose between no-fault insurance, a 3rd party liability insurance system, or both.

How does Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance work?
Under Pennsylvania’s no-fault system, drivers involved in accidents with personal injuries do not turn to the negligent driver’s insurance company for compensation. Instead, injured drivers must turn to their own insurance company to file a claim.

What are the advantages of no-fault insurance?
The primary advantage of a no-fault insurance system is not having to prove the other driver was to blame for the accident. The same holds true if you were at fault. Under this system, drivers simply turn to their own insurance company for payment.

The secondary advantage is the amount of time you save. Under no-fault insurance systems, a driver doesn’t have to wait until the other driver’s insurance company investigates the claim. Instead, the injured driver simply files a claim with their own insurance company and is paid promptly without regard for fault in the accident.

What are the disadvantages of no-fault insurance?
The primary disadvantage of no-fault insurance is the fact that there is no compensation for pain and suffering.

How about property damage claims?
Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance does not apply to property damage claims. A driver who sustains property damage in an accident may turn to the at-fault driver and their insurance company for the cost of repair or replacement of a damaged car.

What is 3rd party liability for purposes of car accidents in Pennsylvania?
Under Pennsylvania’s 3rd party liability option, victims of a car accident have three options in seeking compensation for their damages. Those options are:

  1. Filing a property damage or personal injury claim with their own insurance company
  2. Filing  a property damage or personal injury claim with the negligent driver’s insurance company
  3. Suing the negligent driver

Do passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists have the same rights as a driver injured in a car accident?
Yes. Pennsylvania’s 3rd party liability system extends to drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists who are injured in a car accident, or who sustain property damage. Property damage can include damage to cars or any other personal  property damaged  in the accident.

Step 7 – Modified Comparative Fault Law

Pennsylvania modified comparative faultWhen it comes to assigning negligence in car accidents, the State of Pennsylvania follows the Modified Comparative Negligence Rule, otherwise known as the “51% Bar.”

Under Pennsylvania’s 51% bar, the victim of a car accident can recover damages from an at-fault driver even if it’s determined the victim was also negligent. This is possible only if the victim’s own negligence does not exceed 51%.

If it’s determined the victim’s own negligence was 51% or more, that victim is legally barred from receiving any compensation from the other driver.

Example of Modified Comparative Fault:

Lenny was driving west on 80th Street on his way to pick up his son from a high school baseball game. Lydia was on her way home from the gym, driving northbound on Ocean Avenue.

As Lydia approached the traffic light, it turned yellow. Instead of stopping, Lydia increased her speed to try and make it through the intersection before the light turned red. Unfortunately, the light turned red before she made it all the way across. As a result, Lydia  collided with Lenny, injuring him.

Lenny sustained a fracture to his right arm, preventing him from working as an electrician for the next three months. His medical bills amounted to $30,000.

Lenny filed an insurance claim for $100,000 with Lydia’s insurance company. The amount represented his damages, which included medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost wages, and his pain and suffering. Lydia’s insurance company offered him $60,000 to settle the entire claim, but he refused the offer and sued Lydia. Under the terms of her insurance policy, Lydia was provided a defense attorney to defend her.

(Note:  Almost all car insurance policies provide (at no cost) an attorney to defend the insured in case they are sued by another person injured in a car accident.)

During trial, the evidence showed Lydia failed to stop at the red light. As a result, she was found legally responsible (negligent) for causing the accident. However, additional testimony from witnesses showed Lenny was texting at the time the collision occurred.

After hearing the testimony of both drivers and several witnesses, the jury found in favor of Lenny. However, the jury determined that Lenny also shared part of the negligence. As a result, they apportioned Lydia’s negligence at 60% and Lenny’s at 40%. This meant Lydia was required to pay Lenny $60,000, representing her 60% fault of the $100,000 in damages.

(Note: Under Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence statute, if the jury had decided Lenny’s negligence was 51% or higher, he would have been wholly barred from receiving any compensation from Lydia’s insurance company.)

Should I ever admit the accident was my fault and agree to pay the other driver?
No. Never admit fault at an accident scene. Assessing fault is best left to the police and the insurance companies. There are almost always variables at an accident scene you aren’t aware of. These can include bad weather, speed of the cars, malfunctioning of traffic lights, potholes, negligence of the other driver, and more. Any of these may have contributed to the accident.

If you make a unilateral admission of fault at the accident scene, you will likely be bound by that admission. Admissions of fault are difficult to take back. Let your insurance company decide who is really to blame. That’s their job. You can be confident they will do everything possible to protect you from an unwarranted claim of negligence.

Step 8 – The Role of Law Enforcement

Pennsylvania law enforcementPennsylvania’s law enforcement agencies have policies governing when police and paramedics will be dispatched to an accident scene. In smaller towns and rural areas, the police or sheriff’s department may respond to every accident called into 911.

However, in larger metropolitan areas, law enforcement may not be dispatched unless there are injuries, the accident scene is impeding traffic, or there’s a danger to others.

What can I expect if the police arrive at the accident scene?
If you called 911 to report the accident and told the dispatcher there are injuries, the police and paramedics will respond. Once at the scene, the following will likely occur:

  • Paramedics will determine who is injured and primarily in need of medical attention
  • Police will secure the accident scene to protect evidence and prevent another accident
  • Police will initiate an investigation into how and why the accident occurred, and who was at fault
  • Police will complete an accident report which will later be made available to anyone involved in the collision
  • Police will check the scene for physical evidence, including damage to cars, skid marks, obstructions, weather conditions, and other factors which may have contributed to the accident
  • Police will take statements from witnesses and anyone involved in the crash

Do the police have to listen to me if I want to tell them my side of the accident?
No. Police officers have a set of specific duties to perform when at an Pennsylvania car accident scene. The officer’s primary duties are:

  • To protect and aid the injured
  • Create a safe environment for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and cyclists
  • To investigate the causes of the accident
  • Make arrests where warranted
  • Complete and file an accident report

While you may ask the officer to listen to your version of events, they are not bound by law to do so. Furthermore, when a police officer gives you a command, you must follow it immediately. Arguing or making other retaliatory statements is counter-productive, delaying the officer’s investigation of the accident.

In some cases, failing to comply with the directives of a police officer at an accident scene may lead to your arrest and incarceration.

What if the police issue a traffic citation to me?
You may attempt to dissuade the officer from issuing you a traffic citation. However, once the citation is issued you must accept it and if asked, sign it.

A traffic citation is nothing more than circumstantial evidence. It’s merely a promise that you will appear in court to face whatever issue the officer is accusing you of. If you choose to contest the ticket you will be entitled to a trial where you can subpoena the police officer, witnesses, and others who may have information about the collision.

Step 9 – Represent Yourself or Retain an Attorney?

Pennsylvania attorney self representThere are some personal injury claims which can be competently handled by a victim without legal representation. However, there are others where legal representation is essential. The difference is in the type and severity of the injury, and whether the injuries are “soft tissue” or “hard injury.”

What is the difference?
Soft tissue
injuries include strains and sprains to ligaments, tendons, muscles, minor bruising, cuts not requiring stitches, first degree burns, whiplash, and other relatively minor injuries. These injuries generally don’t result in substantial medical bills. These claims are generally fairly simple and do not involve complex issues of law. Because of this, a victim can normally negotiate his or her own injury claim without an attorney.

However, hard Injuries are much more serious. They include fractures, third degree burns, deep gashes requiring stitches, scarring, head trauma, and other injuries requiring extensive medical care.

When should I retain an attorney?
When dealing with a hard injury claim, the compensation can be substantial. Don’t be misguided in thinking that by representing yourself and avoiding attorney fees, you will end up receiving more compensation. That’s just plain wrong! By representing yourself in a serious injury claim, you may actually end up settling for a substantially smaller amount than an attorney could have secured for you, even after the cost of that attorney is deducted.

Insurance company claims adjusters love to deal directly with victims in serious injury claims. They are highly trained in personal injury settlement tactics and policies and very good at making victims feel they are top notch negotiators.

The main problem with self-representation is once the adjuster says “That’s our final offer,” there is little more you can do. At that point the insurance company is essentially saying your only option is take it or leave it.

Even if you could find your way through composing a petition and filing a lawsuit, you would quickly find yourself up against the insurance company’s attorney who is paid to crush self-represented plaintiffs and their lawsuits.

When it comes to serious hard injury claims you need an experienced personal injury attorney. These professionals have the legal skills required to get the highest settlements possible from insurance companies, in most cases substantially higher than you could ever hope to achieve on your own.

Your attorney can file a lawsuit, using all their experience and legal skills to win your case. Personal injury attorneys have the power to learn the other driver’s policy limits, whether the driver has a past record of accidents, previous traffic citations, prior arrests, and more. These are all matters you could never do on your own.

How much will an attorney cost me?
Most personal injury attorneys will not charge any legal fees for an initial office consultation. They will also not charge you any costs in advance which will likely be required to pursue your claim, including the costs of depositions, investigation, expert medical testimony, and much more.

A personal injury attorney is only paid when they settle your claim or win it at trial. You will then be required to pay them a percentage of the settlement or court verdict, usually about 1/3rd.

The incentive for a personal injury attorney to succeed is substantial. An injury attorney wants to obtain the highest insurance settlement or court verdict possible for his or her client. The higher the client’s settlement or court verdict, the higher the attorney’s fees. It’s really a “win-win” for the attorney and the client.

Step 10 – Small Claims Court

Pennsylvania small claims courtSometimes it’s difficult to find an attorney who will accept a case when the amount you’re seeking is small. It is simply not worth the attorney’s time and effort. Additionally, once the attorney’s fees are deducted from your award, there will be very little left for you. When this occurs you may want to consider filing a lawsuit in one of Pennsylvania’s Small Claims Courts.

Small claims courts were established for people with little or no legal experience. These courts have judges who relax the rules of evidence and procedure so parties in the lawsuit can have their side of the case heard in a relatively simple format.

When should I file a lawsuit in small claims court?
There are four reasons you would want to file a lawsuit in small claims court:

  1. The insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement amount
  2. The insurance company wholly denies your property damage or personal injury claim
  3. The at-fault driver was uninsured at the time of the accident
  4. You can’t find an attorney to accept your case

What is Pennsylvania’s small claims jurisdiction?
Pennsylvania’s small claims courts have jurisdiction over matters where the amount in controversy is $12,000 or less. This means you can sue an at-fault driver for property damage and/or personal injuries in any amount up to $12,000.

Are attorneys allowed in small claims court?
Yes. Many states do not allow attorneys to be present in small claims courts, but Pennsylvania does allow it.

Where can I file my small claims lawsuit?
You have the legal right to file your case in one of the following places:

  • Where the at-fault driver resides; or
  • Where the property damage or personal injury occurred

Note: If the at-fault driver was an employee of a business and performing his or her job duties at the time of the accident, you can file in any county where the company does business.

Where can I find the forms necessary to file a small claims lawsuit?
To file a small claims lawsuit, you will need to complete a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Small Claims Civil Complaint Form. You can download this form and other paperwork from the Pennsylvania courts website.

Where can I find the small claims court nearest to me?
To find the Pennsylvania small claims court near you, check the listing on the Pennsylvania courts website.

Step 11 – Beware of the Statute of Limitations

Pennsylvania statute limitationsIn property damage and personal injury claims, the term “statute of limitations” refers to the period of time you have to either settle your claim or file a lawsuit. If you can’t find a resolution for your claim by then, you must file a lawsuit before the period of time expires.

If the statute of limitations expires, you will be legally barred from ever pursuing the at-fault driver for the compensation you deserve.

What is the statute of limitations period for property damage and personal injury claims in the State of Pennsylvania?
The statute of limitations period for property damage and personal injury claims in the State of Pennsylvania is two (2) years.

What if the insurance company claims adjuster won’t return my calls and the statute of limitations period is about to expire?
The insurance company is under no legal obligation to settle your claim within Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations period. If the date is approaching, you must file a lawsuit or retain an attorney who will file one for you.

What happens to the statute of limitations once I file a lawsuit?
Once you file a lawsuit, the statute of limitations period no longer applies. This is known as “tolling” the statute. Once filed, it doesn’t matter if the case takes one week, one year, or longer.

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