When you’re in a car accident, there is a lot to think about. Reporting the accident to the police, getting help for any injured occupants, getting your car fixed, getting your injuries treated, and filing with insurance or the court system for damages are all important. First and foremost, you should be concerned about getting medical care and compensation for your injuries – but later, questions of fault and how it will affect your driving record are important questions to ask. For a free consultation and help with your car accident case, the Philadelphia car accident lawyers may be able to help.
Does a Car Crash Go on My Record in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, as in most states, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) retains a record of your driving history. This includes a record of all moving violations you may have been ticketed for (e.g. running a red light or speeding). It also includes a record of all accidents you’ve been involved in. This record is purely procedural, and usually does not include any record of who was at fault. If you received a ticket for the offense, it will note that – and it may note if someone else was ticketed for the accident.
If you file your case through insurance or take the other driver to court, a determination of fault will usually be made. Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” insurance state, which means that there is no need to determine fault for lower levels of damage and injury. However, all property damage and injury above a certain point will be paid from the at-fault driver or their insurance. This means fault is important in most serious cases, and either the insurance companies or the court will come up with a definitive idea of who is “at fault.”
In some cases, this fault is mixed. Car accidents are not always black and white, and sometimes the victim contributes to the cause. For instance, if a car accident victim was speeding when another driver caused the accident, it may be obvious that the other driver was at fault. However, a court may assign a small amount of blame to the victim as well. This kind of “fault” does not necessarily reflect on any record, and simply modifies the amounts the at-fault driver pays.
Since PennDOT’s simply states that there was an accident, this record will be entered no matter who is at fault. The record that your insurance company makes, however, may be different.
Will My Insurance Premiums Go Up if I Was the Victim of an Accident?
If a court of law or your insurance company finds that you were at fault for an accident, it’s likely that your insurance rates will go up. Some insurance providers may excuse a first accident, but it’s up to the specific rules of your policy. On the other hand, if you were the victim, you should not see an increase in most cases. If the other driver caused the accident, there is no reason your insurance should hold you accountable with higher premiums.
No-fault insurance may pay some money for minor car accident injuries like whiplash. It may also cover cases where the other driver can’t be found, like hit and run cases. Lastly, your insurance may step in and cover some injuries until the at-fault driver compensates you through insurance or a lawsuit. In many cases, if you were the victim of an accident, this will not increase your rates, even though your insurance paid you some money.
When you report an accident to your insurance company, they may keep a record of the final outcome of the case. Since PennDOT’s record doesn’t say who was at fault, it does not give you the protection of saying you weren’t at fault, either. In contrast, your insurance company may keep a record attached to that incident that states you were innocent in causing the accident.
If you switch insurance companies, they may not have access to your previous insurance company’s records. That means that your new insurance company may only have PennDOT’s record to check how many accidents you were in. Since those records do not show fault, you may need to retrieve information from your previous insurance company or the courts to prove you were the victim of those accidents and prevent your rates from rising.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer
The most important thing after a car accident is your health and safety. Even if you were partially at fault, seeking care for your injuries should be your top priority. Talk to a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer like those at The Reiff Law Firm today for help with your car accident case. If you need money to pay for medical bills and cover your pain and suffering, our lawyers may be able to help. Call (215) 246-9000 today for a free consultation on your case.