big city


June 29, 2022

What to Do After a Car Accident in Philadelphia, PA

Let's look at and learn the important steps that will help you do the right thing after a car accident.

There’s few experiences as terrifying as a car accident, especially as they typically occur with no warning. But what happens after a car accident? You need to know the steps to take after a car accident by heart to maximize your chances of receiving fair personal injury compensation. Don’t wait until an accident happens when you will find it difficult to think clearly.

Philadelphia Car Accident Statistics

According to Philadelphia news car crash statistics, over 10,000 car accidents occurred in Philadelphia in 2020 alone. If you are an average driver, your odds of getting into a car accident within the next year are slightly over two percent. Most people get into a car accident at some point or another, and many suffer serious injury.

An accident could injure you no matter how safely you drive. For this reason, you need to prepare for how to handle an accident in advance. Purchasing insurance beyond the minimum legal requirements is a great idea, but you must also prepare in other ways.      

What to Expect after a Car Accident before Emergency Responders Arrive

Below is a list of items to place on your “What to do after a Philadelphia car accident” checklist. Keep it in your glove box, on your mobile phone, or both.

Address Safety Issues

Exit the vehicle as safely as you can, and help other people in your vehicle and any other vehicle escape. If possible, move the vehicles as far off the road as you can. If you can’t, then set up flares or have someone warn oncoming traffic of the presence of vehicles blocking the road.

Do not leave the accident scene without providing the other driver with your contact and insurance details. If the accident is more than a minor fender-bender, wait for emergency responders to arrive. If any other safety matters arise, simply use your common sense.

Verify Everyone Involved Is in Good Condition

Check to see how seriously injured you are and other people involved in the accident. Find out if anyone in the immediate vicinity has any training in first aid. If not, perform any necessary first aid on yourself and others, but only to the extent that it is immediately necessary. You need to stop profuse bleeding immediately, but you don’t need to fix a broken bone.

Alert Emergency Responders

Call 911 as soon as you can. This will alert the police, an ambulance, and even a fire truck. Calling 911 is critical for both medical and legal reasons. If there is an injury, the medical reasons are obvious.

There are also important legal reasons why you need emergency responders on the accident scene. One of the most important reasons is that they can serve as neutral third-party witnesses to the conditions they observed right after the accident.

What to Do After a Car Crash When Emergency Responders Arrive

If your accident occurred in an urban environment, chances are good that emergency responders will show up without you even having to call them. What you do after they arrive could critically affect your claim.

Seek Medical Attention

after an auto accident checklist

Injuries after a car accident are the rule, not the exception. Sometimes symptoms do not appear until hours or even days after an accident. This is particularly likely for neck and head injuries. That is why you should seek medical attention even if you don’t believe you were injured. Seeking immediate medical attention will also prevent the defendant from claiming that you had a pre-existing injury and it will prevent them from claiming that your injuries were your fault.

Never Admit Responsibility or Try to Assign Fault

It might seem polite to say “I’m sorry”, but that could end up getting you held liable for an accident that was somebody else’s fault. In addition to refraining from taking responsibility for the accident yourself, don’t make any accusations against anyone else. Saying something rash that turns out to be wrong later could harm your credibility, making it more difficult for you to win compensation.

Obtain Contact Information

Obtain the following contact details:

  • The names, contact details, and insurance companies of the other car’s driver, and if the driver doesn’t own the car, the owner’s legal and registered owners.
  • The names and contact details of any passengers involved in the accident.
  • The names and contact details of any witnesses to the accident. Ask them to stay long enough to talk to emergency responders.
  • The name and badge number of the police officer who responds.

If you can’t do this yourself (because of your injuries), see if you can find someone else, perhaps a passenger in your car, who can do it.

Collect Evidence

To the extent that your medical condition allows, collect the following evidence:

  • Take photographs of the accident scene, any injuries, and any damage to the vehicles.
  • Photograph other evidence such as skid marks, weather conditions, the condition of the road, etc.
  • Gather any other evidence that might be relevant (CCTV footage, for example, or a photograph of a whiskey bottle in the other driver’s back seat), either yourself or through a friend.

No matter what you do, don’t get in the way of emergency responders. Let them do their job before you do yours.

What Happens after a Car Wreck Days and Weeks after the Crash

after car accident

So how long after a car accident can you claim for an injury? Most of the time you have two years after the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim in court. The longer you wait to file. However, the weaker your claim will become.

Follow Medical Instructions

Strictly follow your doctor’s orders. Failure to do so might allow the defendant to claim that your injuries were partly your fault (which would reduce your compensation). Take all of your medications, do not stay active if your doctor says you need bed rest, and follow all dietary recommendations. You can be sure that the defendant or the insurance company will be looking for any excuse to reduce your compensation.

File an Accident Report

Pennsylvania emergency responders will normally complete an accident report, which you can access. You cannot use it as evidence in court, however – you will have to call the officer who wrote the report as a witness.

Stay Off of Social Media

Stay off social media from the moment of your accident until the moment your personal injury compensation is in your bank account. The defendant can demand access to your social media posts and use them as evidence in court. The defendant can use something as innocent as a “smiley face” emoji to claim that your “pain and suffering” is not as serious as you say it is.

Call the Insurance Company

Whether you can rely on your car insurance after an accident depends on the type of auto insurance you’ve bought. If you bought limited tort insurance, you must rely on your insurance no matter whose fault the accident was.

If you bought full tort insurance, you could file a claim against the at-fault driver or their auto accident liability insurance company. You could claim against the at-fault driver or their insurance company even with limited tort insurance if your injuries were serious to trigger a certain legal threshold.

Your own insurance company probably requires you to notify them promptly after you have an accident, and you should do so as soon as possible. Talk to your lawyer before you provide the insurance company with any details about the accident, however..

Contact a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney

You may be asking yourself, “Should I get an attorney after a car accident?”. That depends on the seriousness of the accident, but in most cases, the answer is yes. If you want to know when to call a lawyer after a car accident, the correct answer is usually “as soon as you can” because a lawyer can help you determine whether you have a claim worth pursuing.

At Tauber Law, we have collected millions of dollars for our personal injury clients. If you believe that you may have a car accident personal injury claim, don’t delay. Call us at (215) 575-0702, or contact our firm online.

Contact a Professional Philly Lawyer for a Free Consultation

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