Is It Necessary to Report Minor Car Accidents?August 31, 2020
One of the first things motorists should do when they are involved in a serious car accident is report it to the police, particularly when severe injuries and property damage are involved. Fortunately, however, most car accidents are minor fender benders in which the motorists walk away without a scratch, and property damage is minimal or nonexistent. If this is the case, drivers may wonder whether it is necessary to report the accident and fill out a police report. Although the answer to this question may vary by state, in Maryland, motorists are not legally required to report a car accident if there were no injuries and little to no property damage.
However, motorists involved in minor fender benders are legally required to exchange information with each other, regardless of the severity of the accident. If a driver is involved in an accident, from a minor fender bender to a more serious collision, a skilled car accident lawyer will protect their rights and secure the financial compensation they deserve.
According to Maryland Code 20-107, motorists must file an accident report with the Motor Vehicle Administration if an accident results in bodily injury or fatalities. Both drivers involved in the accident must file a report within 15 days of the accident. There are exceptions to this rule, which include the following:
- If a police officer investigated the accident, the officer will file an accident report, so it is not necessary for the motorists to file a report.
- If a driver involved in the accident is physically unable to file a report, he or she will be exempt from doing so.
When is It Necessary to File a Police Report?
Although a driver may not need to file an accident report for a minor car accident, there are instances when they do need to contact law enforcement. If a driver is unsure about whether to notify police, it is always better to call, particularly since some injuries may not show up right away. If a driver is involved in a car accident, even if it is minor, they should not hesitate to contact police if any of the following occur:
- The motorists involved in the accident suffered injuries or potential injuries. If police are not called to the scene, and a driver discovers days or weeks later that they were injured, the other driver may argue that the injury was not caused by the accident.
- One of the motorists involved in the accident does not have a valid driver’s license.
- One of the drivers was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. If an accident is caused by a drunk driver, police must always be notified.
- One of the vehicles needs to be towed away from the accident scene.
- The other driver refuses to share his or her information, including insurance, driver’s license, and contact information.
- The other driver flees the scene of the accident. The penalties for fleeing the scene of a car accident are severe, particularly when serious injuries are involved. The driver who flees the scene may face fines of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison. If the accident results in a fatality, the motorist may face a felony manslaughter charge, which comes with fines of up to $10,000 and up to 10 years in prison.
- The motorists involved do not agree about who caused the accident. It is common for both motorists to believe that the other driver was at-fault. If a police officer is called to the scene, the officer can investigate the scene, interview witnesses, and examine any other physical evidence to determine fault.
Do Drivers Need to Report a Minor Car Accident to the Insurance Company?
Drivers are not legally required to report a minor accident to the insurance company. Some people will avoid involving their insurance company because they want to avoid a rate increase, or they think it will be easier to work things out with the other driver. However, not reporting an accident can have negative consequences. For example, some insurance companies may cancel drivers’ policies if they fail to report an accident in a timely manner. In addition, if the other driver involved in the accident discovers an injury or property damage later, the insurance company may deny the claim. This can end up costing the driver significantly more money if the other driver pursues a lawsuit against them.
What Should a Driver Do Immediately Following a Car Accident?
Minor car accidents can happen in a wide range of locations, from roads and highways to parking lots and driveways, as well as other slow-moving locations. Although most minor accidents do not cause serious injuries or significant property damage, they can be stressful, particularly if a driver does not know the steps to take after the accident happens. The most important thing to do after a minor car accident is to remain calm. The following tips should be kept in mind, even if the accident is a minor fender bender:
- Check for injuries. Even minor accidents can cause injuries such as cuts, bruises, and whiplash. If the driver, the other passengers in the vehicle, or the other driver is injured, someone should call 911 immediately and let dispatch know that they should send an ambulance. If the driver suspects that there might be injuries but is not sure, it is best to call for an ambulance.
- Move away from the vehicle if needed. If smoke or flames are seen, or there is the smell of gasoline, everyone should get as far away from the vehicle as possible.
- Do not block traffic. If possible, the vehicle should be moved to a safe location that allows traffic to pass. The location where the vehicle is pulled over should be a safe spot to talk to the other driver.
- Stay calm. When tensions are running high, it is easy for someone to let their emotions take over. The driver should not blame the other driver; also, apologizing for the accident is inappropriate because the other driver may interpret that as admitting guilt.
- Get the other driver’s contact information. Information with the other driver should be exchanged, which includes contact information, insurance policy information, driver’s license numbers, and license plate numbers. In addition, if there were any witnesses, their contact information should be sought as well.
- Call the police. Although it is not legally required to call the police for minor accidents that do not involve injuries or significant property damage, it is highly recommended.
- Take pictures. Someone should take as many pictures of the accident scene as possible, including minor injuries or damage to the vehicles, weather conditions at the time of the accident, skid marks, debris in the road, and anything else that may prove fault.
- Do not leave the scene. Just because an accident is minor does not mean that the driver should leave the scene before exchanging information with the other driver or waiting until police arrive. If a driver does leave before police arrived, they could face criminal charges.
- Call the insurance agent. Even if the accident was not a driver’s fault, the insurance company should be notified about the accident. That way, if the other driver changes his or her story, the driver will have evidence that supports their account of what happened.
Should a Driver Contact a Car Accident Lawyer after a Minor Car Accident?
Even when a car accident is only a minor fender bender, it can still be beneficial to hire a skilled car accident lawyer. This will ensure that the driver’s legal rights are protected and that they receive the maximum compensation for the damages that they suffered. An experienced car accident lawyer will also assist the driver with every step of the claims process and address all their questions and concerns along the way. If the claim is denied by the insurance company, a car accident lawyer will take the necessary steps to contest the denial so that a fair settlement is reached.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Minor Car Accidents
If you or someone you know was injured in a car accident, it is in your best interest to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Our skilled and dedicated legal team will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. We will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.