Pennsylvania Car Accident Laws – A Complete Guide

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Margot Lester

More than 9 million drivers are licensed by the Commonwealth — and thousands of car crashes happen every year. Traffic deaths took the lives of 1,179 Pennsylvanians in 2022, with no sign of stopping anytime soon. If you’re in a wreck, Pennsylvania car accident laws help you navigate the legal process so you can:

  • Find out your liability after an accident
  • Understand the car insurance laws in Pennsylvania
  • Identify the damages you may qualify for

It shouldn’t be fair for you to pay for damages you didn’t cause. Instead of suffering physical and emotional injuries with nothing to show for it, contact an attorney. A legal professional will know how to fight for your rights, so you won’t suffer without a settlement to match.

IMPORTANT: Consult a Pennsylvania auto accident attorney — even if you have insurance — to get the settlement you deserve. Your insurance may not be enough.

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How to Report a Car Accident in Pennsylvania

If you find yourself in a car accident, stop your vehicle and call 9-1-1 if anyone suffered serious injuries. If your vehicle can still move, pull over to the side to let other cars through.

Pennsylvania car accident laws like 75 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 3746 require you to notify your nearest police officer during the following scenarios:

You may not need to call the police if your car accident only involved property damage. Even so, according to 75 PA. Cons. Stat. § 3743, you’re still legally required to exchange information with the other driver. If you don’t, you could be charged with a misdemeanor through a $2,500 fine, one year of imprisonment, or both.

PRO TIP: Section 3746 also goes over wrecks involving drivers with disabilities and autonomous vehicles.

If your crash is investigated by local or state police, request a police report from the State Police to strengthen your claim.

If law enforcement doesn’t investigate your wreck, you must submit a Driver’s Accident Report Form to PennDOT within five days.

What to Do During a Pennsylvania Car Accident

You need a lot of detail to complete the Driver’s Accident Report Form. The following information makes it easier to complete the report and makes liability clearer for your auto accident attorney when they represent your claim:

  • The other driver’s:
    • Name, address and phone number
    • Driver’s license number
    • License plate state and number
    • Insurance company and policy number
  • Witnesses’ names and contact information
  • Descriptions and photographs of any damage to every vehicle and of the area where the crash occurred

Unless the crash was truly minor, it’s a good idea to see a doctor to make sure you don’t have any hidden injuries, while providing evidence for a potential claim.

If you hit an unattended vehicle like a parked car, you’re legally required under 75 PA. Cons. Stat. § 3745 to leave a note with your information for the other driver.

IMPORTANT: When exchanging information, don’t allow yourself to say anything incriminating that may harm your claim. Saying phrases like “I’m sorry” or “I should have been more careful” allows insurance companies to lowball your settlement because you admitted to fault.

Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault State?

Pennsylvania operates under a choice no-fault system that only Kentucky and New Jersey operate on. Normal no-fault states force insurance providers to pay for your damages after a car accident, regardless of fault. You can’t sue for damages beyond medical costs, and you can’t exceed your personal injury protection (PIP) amounts.

Pennsylvania, however, allows you to purchase insurance policies that let you sue beyond your policy limits. You can opt-out of the no-fault system and sue the negligent driver for much more damages and at higher amounts, depending on the case.

Drivers in the Commonwealth can choose between two types of coverage:

  • Limited-tort no-fault insurance
  • Full-tort insurance

Pennsylvania Car Insurance Laws

Because Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state, choosing your auto insurance is key to determining your settlement amount. Aside from limited and full-tort policy status, all Pennsylvania drivers must have minimum insurance amounts protecting their vehicles according to 75 PA. Cons. Stat. § 1754:

  • $15,000 bodily injury coverage per person with $30,000 per accident
  • $5,000 coverage for property damage
  • $5,000 first-party medical coverage for the policyholder

Limited-Tort Insurance

Here’s what you need to know if you have limited-tort insurance:

  • You file a claim with your auto insurer after the wreck.
  • You can’t sue an at-fault driver unless you’re suffering from a severe injury, usually involving a loss of cognitive or physical function. This is outlined in 75 PA. Cons. Stat. § 1705(d).
  • You may not qualify for non-economic damages, but if your policy includes no-fault “medical payments” coverage, you may be able to file for medical and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Full-Tort Insurance

Here’s what you need to know if you have full-tort insurance:

  • You are free to sue the at-fault driver for undeserved losses from an accident. You can sue for non-economic damages as well, as if you’re residing in an at-fault state.
  • You may have to wait longer for a settlement from the insurance company or a court if you go to trial.

Pennsylvania Comparative Negligence Laws

A driver causing an accident due to their negligence causes them to be at-fault for everyone’s damages. This means the responsible driver (or more likely their insurance company) may be required to pay your medical bills, lost wages and other compensation.

Sometimes, every driver involved has some responsibility. Pennsylvania uses a modified comparative negligence system. It allows you to receive reduced damages depending on how much you were at-fault.

For example, if the adjuster determines you were 25% responsible for a wreck, your total damages are reduced by that amount. You get 75% of the settlement.

IMPORTANT: If you’re more than 50% at-fault, you get no damages at all.

Types of Damages in Pennsylvania Car Accident Law

You may be entitled to different types of compensation after an auto crash. Each case is different, so you should consult a lawyer to see what damages you qualify for.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are the measurable losses caused by a car accident. Examples of such losses are:

  • Vehicle repairs and maintenance
  • Lost income or wages
  • Loss of use of property

These damages also include bodily injury payouts, such as:

  • Past and future hospital bills
  • Laboratory fees
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering directly resulting from the accident

FYI: If you have medical payments coverage, you may get some compensation for medical bills, regardless of fault.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are non-measurable losses from a car crash, including:

These losses are subjective and harder to prove, so an attorney is even more valuable to prove your argument. Contact a Pennsylvania auto accident attorney to acquire the non-economic damages you’re entitled to.

Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania

There’s a time limit, or statute of limitations, for filing car accident claims involving personal injury and/or property damage. Under Pennsylvania car accident law, you have two years to sue for damages from injuries or death caused by “the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another” (42 PA Cons Stat § 5524).

File your claim before the statute of limitations runs out because if you miss the deadline you’re unable to file another claim down the road.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations

Ask your claims agent or lawyer if tolling applies to your case.

If your case involves injuries but not death, the period starts on the day of the accident. For example, if the crash occurred on August 11, 2023, you must file your suit before August 11, 2025.

If you have a wrongful death case against another driver, the period starts on the day the person died, which may differ from the crash date. For example, if the person passed away on September 19, 2023, you must start your suit by September 19, 2025.

PRO TIP: Learn more about your chances of winning a wrongful death lawsuit.

LegalASAP Can Connect You With a Pennsylvania Auto Accident Attorney

You need an attorney to help you navigate the legal process and get the money settlement you deserve. It’s easy to lose yourself in the various steps of the legal process, so you need an attorney to formulate your case. And working with an experienced lawyer is more affordable than you think.

LegalASAP can put you in touch with a Pennsylvania auto accident lawyer who knows Pennsylvania car accident laws and is ready to review your case. The process is free until you win your settlement, so click below to continue.

Margot Lester
CEO at The Word Factory

Margot Lester is the CEO ofThe Word Factory,a content marketing agency based in North Carolina that provides services for international healthcare brands, tech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coachand organizational communications trainer,helping individuals and teams write more effectively. LinkedIn:linkedin.com/in/margotlester.