Seconds after a car accident, a million thoughts are likely running through your head. Once you’ve evaluated yourself for injuries and checked on the others involved in the collision, you’ll need to determine how to proceed. Part of the next steps involves reporting the accident.
Reporting a crash is crucial for several reasons, which we’ll go into greater detail about later. In general, the reporting process in Maryland is straightforward. Unique situations, however, can complicate matters. This is why it’s crucial to consult a lawyer who has experience dealing with all types of car accidents. They will work to ensure you follow the proper legal path for documenting the event.
The first step in understanding how reporting a car accident in Maryland works is to recognize the state laws that affect how the involved parties need to act. While your attorney can explain how these laws may impact your case in greater detail, here we’ll explain the basic car accident reporting laws and how they apply to common situations.
Maryland’s Car Accident Reporting Laws
Our state sees its fair share of accidents. Because of that, there are a number of laws in place to handle collisions and protect crash victims. In general, a crash needs to be reported if someone sustained injuries, the vehicles cannot be moved, one of the drivers seems to be intoxicated, one of the drivers does not have a license, the wreck was a hit-and-run, or if the accident damaged public property.
There are multiple codes that establish the car accident reporting guidelines, how you can make a post-accident report to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), and how to report an accident involving a domestic animal.
According to the Maryland Code, Transportation §20-107, when an accident results in bodily injury or death, the drivers need to report the incident in writing to the MVA within 15 days. In that report, include evidence of liability insurance, the name and address of the insurance carriers, and the insurance policy’s number. If the driver is incapable of reporting the incident, the owner of the vehicle will need to do so.
In the event a driver strikes a domestic animal, that person needs to immediately contact the state or local police to report the incident. Then, law enforcement will notify the local organization or agency designated to provide medical care to injured animals.
The Importance of Reporting an Automobile Wreck
There are a number of reasons why reporting a car accident in Maryland is crucial. Getting into a wreck is a complicated matter. Even if you initially feel fine, you could have injuries that take time to develop. Reporting the accident and seeking medical attention will create a paper trail that can show the correlation between the incident and your injuries.
If the incident has been documented properly and you want to take legal action against the at-fault driver, you’ll have the report to present to your lawyer. They’ll be able to use that information to build a strong case on your behalf. The insurance company will also be able to pull the official report and use that for their own investigation.
Understanding When a Crash Report Isn’t Necessary
If you find yourself in a minor fender-bender, you may be wondering if it’s still necessary to file a report. There are two situations where it is not required for the drivers to report the incident. The first is if an official report was made by law enforcement and filed within the Department of State Police. The second is if the driver is physically incapable of filing the report.
In any other situation, even if the property damage is minimal and no one appears injured, it’s a good idea to file a report anyway. You may not have all the facts after the crash and filing a report will ensure you are fulfilling your legal responsibilities.
Reporting a Collision You Weren’t Involved In
If you’ve been witness to a crash, you might wonder how you can best help those involved and if you have any legal obligations. Maryland, like most states, has a Good Samaritan law, which protects bystanders who offer emergency assistance. If you witness a car accident, you’ll first want to ensure you are not in any danger and call 911. While you can verbally reassure the accident victims if you’re comfortable doing so, never move anyone. Let the medical professionals handle that.
After you’re reported the accident to the police, it’s likely they will request an interview from you. As a witness, your testimony could be crucial when the police try to determine who is liable for the crash. Sometime after the event, you may also receive a call from the victim’s lawyer, asking for further information.
The Risk of Not Reporting an Auto Wreck
If you find yourself to be the victim of an accident and the at-fault driver is trying to convince you to not report the event, hold your ground. They’re likely doing this to avoid having to face the consequences of their actions. This is an incredibly risky and possibly illegal decision for both sides.
Say the other driver promises to pay you for your medical expenses and vehicle repair costs, but when the time comes, they’re not returning your calls. If you try to report the accident later, the police may not have access to the evidence they need to determine fault, the insurance company could deny your claim, and the cost of the losses becomes your responsibility. You could also lose your license or have your vehicle’s registration revoked. It’s important to remember that reporting the event, even if you’re not sure if it needs to be reported, is always the safer decision.
After you’ve reported the event, it can be overwhelming to deal with the ramifications of your accident. To prevent missing deadlines, filing paperwork incorrectly, or being offered less than you deserve, you’ll benefit from working with an experienced car accident lawyer. We’re dedicated to helping victims in Baltimore and all over Maryland. Contact our firm for more information.