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Last updated: September 12, 2023

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run in Pennsylvania

Your legal duties are to stop at the scene, render aid, exchange information, and report to the police.

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Pennsylvania laws dictate what you should do after you hit another car — namely, remain at the scene of the accident, render aid, exchange information, and report it to the police. The vehicle code also dictates the penalties for breaking these laws.

But what can you do to recover your losses if you’re the victim of a hit-and-run and not the perpetrator? We’ve done a deep dive into Pennsylvania’s laws surrounding hit-and-runs and their effect on car insurance in particular.

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run in Pennsylvania

If you were behind the wheel of a car during an accident and caused property damage, injury, or death, you’re legally required to stop at the scene of the crash, or as close to it as possible, and remain there until you’ve exchanged information with the other driver and have rendered aid. Otherwise, it can be considered a hit-and-run.

You should exchange the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Insurance information

If you’re unable to exchange information with the other party, like if they are unconscious, give your information to the police once law enforcement arrives. Note that your duty to render aid means you must give “reasonable assistance” to any injured party.

You’re also required to immediately report to the police any accident that includes injury, death, or damage to a vehicle that requires towing “by the quickest means of communication.” For all other accidents, report them to the police within five days of the accident using the form at

Send the form to the following mailing address:

  • PA Department of Transportation, Bureau of Highway Safety & Traffic Engineering
  • P.O. Box 2047
  • Harrisburg, PA 17105-20471

But what happens if you hit an unattended vehicle? In that case, you’re required to try to locate and notify the owner to exchange information, but if you can’t find them, you must attach a note on the vehicle in a conspicuous place with details of the crash, including the time and date, along with your contact information (typically a telephone number). Then, you must notify the police “without necessary delay.”

Failing to take the above actions could constitute a hit-and-run. But while that’s where your immediate legal obligations technically end, we also recommend doing the following:

  • Seek medical attention. If the accident results in injury, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Gather evidence. Take pictures of the damages, speak to witnesses who can support your case or may have seen the crash, and note the weather, time of day, road conditions, and any other information you can use in your insurance claim.
  • Get a copy of your police report. Having a police report for your claim will bolster your evidence of the incident. You can request a copy of your police report after 15 days from the date of the crash at a cost of $22. Either search for your crash report online ( or mail your request using the form at to:
    • Attention: Crash Reports Unit
    • 1800 Elmerton Avenue
    • Harrisburg, PA 171102

Hit-and-Run Penalties

In Pennsylvania, you must stop at the scene of the accident, render aid, exchange information, and, in some cases, report the accident to the police. If you fail to do so, here are the penalties, as written in the Pennsylvania Statutes Chapter 37 C.3

Hit-and-run result Property damage only (unattended vehicle) Property damage only (attended vehicle) Serious personal injury Death
Charge Summary offense Third-degree misdemeanor Third-degree felony Second-degree felony
Fine $300 $2,500 minimum (mandatory) $1,000 minimum (mandatory) $2,500 minimum (mandatory)
Imprisonment 90 days maximum 1 year maximum 90 days minimum 3 years minimum
Points 0 4 0 0

You’ll face the least penalties for a hit-and-run that resulted in property damage only, but you’ll still be punished for leaving the scene and failing to contact the police within five days.

Pennsylvania defines a serious injury as a bodily injury that:

  • Creates a substantial risk of death
  • Causes serious, permanent disfigurement
  • Causes a protected loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ or member4

Recovering Damages

Now let’s flip the scenario, where you’re the victim instead of the perpetrator. If someone hits your car and drives away, how do you get compensated for your losses?


If you can’t figure out who hit you (for example, if someone hit your parked car and fled the scene), you can file a first-party claim with your insurance provider under medical payments, collision coverage, or uninsured motorist coverage. Out of these coverages, only $5,000 worth of medical payments is mandatory. If you lack the other coverages, you’ll have to pay for your property damage out of pocket.

However, if you are able to identify the person who hit you, you can get compensated via their liability insurance for your and your passengers’ property damage and bodily injuries.


A first-party claim is a claim with your insurance provider. A third-party claim is a claim with the other party’s insurance provider.

Civil Lawsuit

Pennsylvania follows a modified comparative negligence law, meaning that if you know the identity of the responsible party, you can sue them in a civil lawsuit as long as you have a lower degree of fault. However, if you have any degree of fault, your compensation would be reduced by that percentage.

Whether you can sue for economic or non-economic damages (i.e., pain and suffering)  depends on whether you selected full or limited tort when you signed up for car insurance. With full tort, you can recover all of your out-of-pocket medical expenses and damages for pain and suffering, an unrestricted right. With limited tort, while the insurance will cost less, you can’t sue for pain and suffering, only economic losses unless you have a serious injury.5

Hire a traffic or personal injury attorney to represent you either way.

How Much Does a Hit-and-Run Affect Car Insurance?

Your car insurance can be affected due to a hit-and-run, regardless of whether you were the offending party or the victim.

Your car insurance in Pennsylvania will increase in price by an average of 93 percent following a hit-and-run accident, assuming you filed a first-party claim. However, if you identified the driver who hit you and filed a third-party claim, your insurance won’t increase at all. Meanwhile, if you were the perpetrator and the victim filed a third-party claim with your insurance, you should expect your rates to rise.

Statistics: Hit-and-Runs in Pennsylvania

We looked at the Fatality Analysis Reporting System from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to analyze fatal hit-and-runs in the Keystone State.

From 2011 to 2021, there were over 500 fatal hit-and-run car crashes in Pennsylvania, an average of 46 per year. Altogether, hit-and-runs comprised 4 percent of all fatal car crashes.

Year Involved a hit-and-run Did not involve a hit-and-run Total fatal crashes in Pennsylvania Percentage of all fatal crashes
2011 36 1,155 1,191 3%
2012 49 1,162 1,211 4%
2013 28 1,091 1,119 3%
2014 38 1,069 1,107 3%
2015 36 1,066 1,102 3%
2016 50 1,038 1,088 5%
2017 50 1,033 1,083 5%
2018 57 1,046 1,103 5%
2019 47 943 990 5%
2020 56 1,004 1,060 5%
2021 61 1,092 1,153 5%
Total 508 11,699 12,207 4%
Average 46 1,064 1,110 4%

Forty-one percent of fatal hit-and-runs in 2021 involved a driver with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, meaning they were driving under the influence of alcohol. Speeding was involved in 23 percent of all fatal hit-and-runs in the same year, while distracted and drowsy drivers were less common.

Driver involvement Number of fatal hit-and-runs in Pennsylvania in 2021 Percentage of total
Alcohol impairment (BAC of 0.08% or higher) 25 41%
Speeding 14 23%
Distracted driver 3 5%
Drowsy driver 2 3%
Total 61 N/A

Of the fatal hit-and-runs in which the ages of the involved drivers were known, the plurality (28 percent) were between the ages of 35 and 44.

Age group Number of drivers involved in fatal hit-and-runs in Pennsylvania in 2021 Percentage of total known drivers
16-20 4 7%
21-24 5 9%
25-34 13 24%
35-44 15 28%
45-54 7 13%
55-64 6 11%
65-74 3 6%
Over 74 1 2%
Unknown 30 N/A
Total known 54 N/A
Total 84 N/A

Of the involved drivers in which their sex was known, 83 percent were male.

Sex Number of drivers involved in fatal hit-and-runs in Pennsylvania in 2021 Percentage of total known drivers
Male 45 83%
Female 9 17%
Reported as unknown 30 N/A
Total known 54 N/A
Total 84 N/A


Pennsylvania doesn’t allow auto insurance companies to take into account gender when determining car insurance premiums, so even though men have higher accident rates, they won’t pay more for insurance than their female counterparts.


Although fleeing an at-fault accident may be tempting, if you are caught, you can face fines, imprisonment, or both. It’s best to stop at the scene of the crash and comply with Pennsylvania’s laws. Although your car insurance premium might double post-accident, you won’t face any legal penalties or imprisonment if you adhere to the state’s vehicle code.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does insurance cover a hit-and-run in Pennsylvania?

Yes, insurance covers a hit-and-run in Pennsylvania. If the claim is with the at-fault party’s insurance, the victim can be compensated under liability insurance for both property damage and bodily injuries. If the at-fault party is unknown, the victim can use either their medical payments, uninsured motorist, or collision coverage for their losses.

Should you chase a hit-and-run driver?

No, you should not chase a hit-and-run driver, because it is dangerous. Instead, remain at the scene of the accident and gather witness evidence for your police report and insurance claim.

How long do police have to file charges in Pennsylvania?

According to Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes Section 5552, the police have up to two years after an offense to file charges against the perpetrator.

How long can police detain you in Pennsylvania?

Police can detain you in Pennsylvania for as long as it’s “reasonably necessary” to issue a citation or investigate the potential crime. However, the police can detain you only if you are under arrest. Otherwise, you’re free to leave, according to the West Chester, Pennsylvania-based law firm DiCindio Law.


  1. Pennsylvania’s Point System. PENNDot Driver & Vehicle Services. (2023).

  2. Get a Copy of a Crash Report. Pennsylvania State Police. (2023).

  3. Title 75: Miscellaneous Provisions. Pennsylvania General Assembly. (2004).

  4. § 27.135. Definitions. Pennsylvania Code. (2023).

  5. Automobile Insurance Guide. Pennsylvania Insurance Department. (2008, Mar).