What Are My Rights and Responsibilities After A Maryland Car Accident
To some extent, your obligations after being involved in a Maryland car accident are going to depend on the severity of that car crash. Substantive Maryland law imposes certain requirements on individuals who have been involved in an automobile accident involving serious personal injury or property damage. In these instances, you are required to stop, remain at the scene, render aid and facilitate medical care, and otherwise exchange information. Your failure to do so can have legal consequences that can include a criminal conviction, and up to two months in prison. My clients sometimes ask if they must call the police after being involved in a motor vehicle collision.
We are all aware of the enormous workloads and dangerous challenges facing the men and women of law enforcement.
It is frankly not possible for uniformed police officers to respond to each and every automobile accident that occurs in Maryland every day. Nevertheless, and having said that, there are often tangible advantages to asking a law enforcement officer complete an incident report. As part of that process, the officer is will record the name, address, DL number, tag, VIN number and, most importantly, insurance information for those involved in the accident. The officer should also note the presence of any witnesses and their contact information. A police officer on the scene may also make valuable observations regarding the demeanor of any of the participants. Certainly, if a crime is being or has been committed, whether or not it was directly related to the happening of the accident, the law enforcement officer will take appropriate action against the offending party. Perhaps most significantly, in the typical police accident report, an officer will give an opinion on how the accident happened and if appropriate, assign fault.
While police accident reports are typically not admissible in evidence in Maryland courts, certainly they can provide valuable negotiation fodder when dealing with an insurance company.
There is a certain amount of discretion allowed for law enforcement in investigating and recording routine traffic mishaps in Maryland. Some officers may not do anything more than issue and "exchange of information" forms to the participants. Moreover, due to the nature of many injures sustained in common motor vehicle accidents, they symptoms of those injures may not be known for days. Indeed, it is common for a police report to record "no visible" injury, when the participants have sustained potentially serious injuries.
The law provides certain rights for those involved in automobile accidents through no fault of their own. If criminal conduct, e.g. a DUI, or negligent or reckless driving, caused or contributed to the accident, a criminal proceeding will likely ensue. As part of that criminal process, the victim might be entitled to restitution for things like medical bills or potentially lost wages and property damage.
Certainly, any person injured in a Maryland automobile accident where they did not cause or contribute to that accident is entitled to collect money damages from the at-fault party and their insurance company in a civil proceeding. As discussed in more detail in other volumes of these legal guides, money damages are the recognized measure of loss in personal injury cases. Economic damages include things like: lost wages, medical expenses and property damage. Non-economic damages would include things like: distress, both emotional and physical, anguish, torment, pain, scarring , and disfigurement if applicable
-This Article was updated by Eric Kirk on 10/22/20.
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