When police respond to the scene of a car accident, they provide emergency assistance, speak with witnesses and involved parties, and provide any necessary citations. After this, the responding officer will create a police report that details their observations and what they were told happened. If a police officer responded to the scene of an accident, they are required by Pennsylvania law to create a report about it.
Police reports are useful for survivors of accidents who need compensation after sustaining serious injuries. While they aren’t the deciding factor for fault, police reports can be a great source of information regarding what each involved party said happened, what witnesses observed, and the responding officer’s opinion for who was at fault for an accident.
If you’ve been in a Pennsylvania car accident, it’s important that you take the steps to obtain the police report for it as soon as possible. Doing this can help your insurance claim and can help you verify if the report is accurate.
Obtaining a Police Report After a PA Car Accident
To get your copy of a police report, visit the Pennsylvania State Police Department’s website. Here, you can obtain a document known as the Application to Obtain a Copy of a Police Report, also known as Form SP 7-0015. People who can use this form to obtain an accident report include any person involved with an accident, their attorney, insurers, the federal government, and other officials. Notably, requests for copies of accident reports shouldn’t be made until 15 days after the date of a crash.
Form SP 7-0015 asks for information such as:
- Your information
- When the crash occurred
- Why you need a copy of the report
Once completed, you’ll need to send the form and the fee ($22.00 at the time of this post) to the Pennsylvania State Police Crash Reports Unit. The address for this unit is included on Form SP 7-0015.
If your accident wasn’t investigated by someone from the Pennsylvania State Police Department, you’ll need to make a request with the right law enforcement agency. For example, if an officer from the Harrisburg Bureau of Police responded to your accident, you’ll need to request a report from it.
To request an accident report from the Harrisburg Bureau of Police, do one of the following:
- Visit the HBP in person at 123 Walnut St, 2nd Level, Harrisburg, PA 17101
- Email a request to email@example.com
- Send a request with the right fee ($15) to the HBP.
Do You Have to Report a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania requires drivers to report any car accident they're involved in. Those involved with a crash must always call the police if injury or death happened to anyone involved. The law requires a police investigation when vehicles are damaged to the extent that they are unable to operate.
If you’ve been involved in an accident and no police responded to it, you’re required to file an accident report with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) within five days of your accident. Failing to do this might result in the suspension of your driver’s license. Importantly all parties should file an accident report, whether they’re at fault for the incident or not. Some insurance companies might deny a person compensation after an accident if they fail to file an accident report.
To file an accident report with PennDOT, start by obtaining a copy of form AA-600. This form will ask you details about the accident, will ask you to describe what happened, and will include a box for you to draw a diagram of the event. Once you’ve completed the form, mail it to the Bureau of Highway Safety and Traffic Engineering’s address that is listed on the form.
Pennsylvania’s No-Fault Laws & Police Reports
Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state. This means that claimants receive compensation from their insurer instead of from the insurance of the other party. However, a person can opt-out of no-fault insurance by purchasing full tort coverage instead of limited tort coverage. Holders of either kind of policy should obtain the police report for their accident. Those with limited tort insurance need a police report to provide crucial details about their accident so they can receive a fair amount of compensation from their policy. If a person has full tort coverage, they need a police accident report for their insurance coverage and for pursuing the other party for compensation.
Are You Required to Call the Police After a Pennsylvania Car Accident?
Pennsylvania law does not require parties involved with a car accident to call the police if there were no injuries or significant property damage caused by the crash. However, it’s almost always wise to call the police for an accident so an official report will be created for your accident—especially if you weren’t at fault for this.
A police report can help serve as an early record of your accident and can be used as evidence if the other party tries to change the story or exaggerate the extent of their damages. If the police did not respond to the scene of an accident, a driver has five days to file a report of their own. While this may seem like an inconvenience, filing a report creates an official, legal record of your accident. If medical complications or other damages from the accident start later, you will have an early and official record of the accident. Never agree to the other driver’s request to work out your accident without the involvement of the police.
What Information Is in a Police Accident Report?
Police accident reports contain crucial information that the responding officer observed at the scene of the accident. It provides basic information such as a crash’s location, who was involved with it, any injuries, and how much property damage it caused.
The police report will also provide detailed information about the crash such as how traffic was moving, driving conditions, and information about traffic patterns, signs, and signals that could have influenced the accident. Additionally, the report will describe any traffic violations the office believes were violated, if either party was tested for drugs or alcohol influence, and a diagram of how the accident happened according to visual evidence and the reports of those involved with it.
Police reports include information such as:
- The date, time, and location of the accident
- Contact information for each driver
- Insurance information for all drivers
- Contact information for potential eyewitnesses
- The weather conditions and road conditions at the time of the accident
- A diagram of the accident scene including the position of the vehicle
- Any personal observations the officer may have of the accident scene
- Information regarding who was at fault for the accident
What Other Evidence is Important in a Car Accident?
If you do not have a police report, the police report is inaccurate, or the police report is incomplete, this is not the end of your personal injury case. Evidence from the accident scene such as photographs taken by the driver, eyewitness statements, physical evidence, and your own personal account of the accident are important pieces of evidence your injury attorney can use to establish liability on the part of the other driver.
If possible, take photographs of the accident scene immediately following the accident and obtain contact information for any eyewitnesses to the accident. Provide this information to your car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will conduct a thorough accident investigation to identify and preserve key evidence in your case.
Contact Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC Today for Help After Your Car Accident
If you’re having trouble obtaining the compensation you need from your insurance company or sustained serious injuries that you need help with, Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC is standing by to help. For nearly 100 years, our Harrisburg car accident lawyers have been by people who need help receiving compensation after an accident. We’re ready to use your accident’s police report as well as our own in-depth investigation to work towards the results you need. While nothing guarantees the outcome of your case, working with our team puts a trusted team of experienced car accident lawyers on your side.
Call our Pennsylvania car accident lawyers now at (888) 498-3023 for a free consultation. If we take your case, you won’t have to pay us unless we secure results on your behalf.