Maryland Transportation Code § 20–103 says that if you are involved in an accident resulting in damage to an attended vehicle, meaning a vehicle operated by another person, you should stop your vehicle as close as possible to the scene of the accident, without obstructing traffic any more than is necessary. If it is possible and safe to do so, pull over to the shoulder or median.
Should the accident result in injury or damage to the other vehicle, Maryland Transportation Code § 20–104 instructs drivers to “render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident and, if the person requests medical treatment or it is apparent that medical treatment is necessary, arrange for the transportation of the person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical treatment.”
In other words, immediately call 911, seek medical help, and notify law enforcement of the accident. Failure to do so, in fact, is a crime that could land you in jail for up to two months.
State law also mandates that the drivers involved in the accident provide their names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers, insurance information, and show their driver’s licenses to anyone injured in the crash and to the driver and occupants of the other vehicle. You must also give that information to police officers who are investigating the accident.
Maryland does not require drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which covers lost wages and medical bills regardless of fault. But motorists must carry at least $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage and $15,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage.
If the accident involves an unattended vehicle for instance, a parked car or other unattended property, Maryland Transportation Code § 20–105 instructs you to try to find the owner and provide them with your name and address, vehicle registration, insurance information, and the name and owner of your vehicle (if that person is not you). If you cannot locate the person, you must leave a conspicuous note containing that information.
In all cases, should the accident involve a domestic animal, you are required to call 911 so that authorities can contact the correct agency to care for the injured animal, according to Maryland Transportation Code §20–106.
Understanding Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Law
After completing your state-required responsibilities at the scene of a car crash, it is vital to collect as much evidence as possible, whether or not you believe yourself to be primarily at fault for the accident. That is because Maryland is one of just a few states to use a “contributory negligence” standard, as opposed to the much more commonplace “comparative negligence” standard. In the latter, the percentage of blame a person is assigned in an accident is diminished in proportion to the percentage of blame assigned to another party. But in a contributory negligence state, if the at-fault party can show that the other party shares even 1% of the blame, they cannot recover damages.
This is why it is essential to collect as much evidence as possible. If the other person is to blame for the accident, you want to document to the best of your ability that you were doing everything right.
If you have a smartphone, take photos of the damage to your car and the other vehicle involved. Collect the names of potential witnesses. If you are injured or need medical assistance and are unable to do these things, call a family member and ask them to help. Make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible even if you feel no immediate ill effects; sometimes symptoms do not show themselves for days or even weeks. Follow up with physicians if your pain persists.
Most importantly, do not speak to the other party’s insurance company without first consulting with your own attorney; remember, you are under no obligation to do so. Maryland laws are not friendly to those seeking personal injury claims, and insurance companies only need to show you were just the tiniest bit at fault to avoid paying compensation.
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If you are wondering, “What should I do at the scene of a car accident?”, calling our law office at (410) 777-8960 should be high on your list.