Do I Have to Report a Minor Car Accident in Philadelphia?

No one likes being involved in a car accident – nor in the legal tangle that follows. In addition to the stress of possible bodily injuries and property damage to your vehicle, you also need to worry about insurance claims and who’s at fault for the accident. You may even need to contact the police or a Philadelphia car accident lawyer.

Many drivers involved in minor car accidents hesitate to contact the police and often aren’t sure whether they should. Since 2010, Philadelphia law no longer requires police to respond to the scene of an accident where there’s no injury or damage to surrounding property. However, just because Philadelphia police no longer respond to the scene of minor accidents doesn’t mean you shouldn’t report it if you’re involved in one.


If you’re in a car accident that seems relatively minor, fully assess the extent of the damage to your car, the other cars, and the surrounding property to determine whether it actually requires police presence. A minor car accident that doesn’t require police response includes:

  • Accidents where no one is injured and no surrounding property is damaged – meaning that the only damage is to the vehicle or vehicles involved in the crash.
  • Accidents in which all drivers can safely drive their vehicles from the scene.
  • Accidents where all involved drivers stay at the scene and exchange contact and insurance information with each other. This means hit-and-run accidents, even those with no injury or damage, require police response.

If you’re in an accident that fits the above description, you don’t need to call Philadelphia police to respond to the scene. However, you should still follow up and report the accident to the police after the fact; it ensures accurate police records. You may need to have a record of the accident in case of insurance claims down the road.


If you’re involved in a minor car accident or “fender-bender” in Philadelphia, here are the steps you should follow from the moment the accident happens up until you report the incident to police and to your insurance company:

  • Move your car to the side of the road, where you’re out of the way of traffic. Turn on your hazard lights to warn oncoming drivers of your stopped vehicles.
  • Call 911. Even if the accident is clearly minor, you should leave it up to the dispatcher to determine whether the accident requires immediate police response. The dispatcher will assess whether to send a police officer by asking you a series of questions over the phone.
  • Once the dispatcher determines the severity of the accident, he or she will let you know if you can report the accident in person or over the phone. The dispatcher will give you contact information for the district where you should report the accident.
  • Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Get complete contact information as well as their insurance and vehicle information.
  • You can then report the accident to police in person or over the phone, using the contact information that the 911 dispatcher provided.
  • You should also report the accident to your insurance company.


Although it’s tempting to avoid reporting a minor accident, thinking perhaps that you can “work it out” with the other driver on your own, reporting it to the police and to your insurance is essential in order to protect yourself against false claims. Additionally, your insurance requires you to report all accidents, no matter how minor, to avoid penalties and fees in the future. If you were injured in a motor vehicle collision in Pennsylvania and your insurance is being difficult, consider speaking with a qualified personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia.