Do I Need to Report a Fender-Bender?July 27, 2022
Most car accidents are minor and do not involve life-threatening personal injuries. After such a collision, you might wonder whether you need to call the police. Although the answer may not always be clear at that moment, if you are unsure, it is best to err on the side of caution and call the police. You are better off calling the police and not needing them as opposed to the opposite.
If you have been involved in a car accident in which there was an injury or a death, Maryland law requires that the accident be reported to the Motor Vehicle Administration. You can report the accident by calling the police or by filing a report within 15 days of the accident. If your vehicle has been damaged, you may need to speak with a lawyer about your legal options to get reimbursed for any car repair costs.
What to Do after an Accident
After a car accident, it can be a confusing time. You are trying to figure out what to do to report the accident and make sure you and your passengers are okay. That places a lot of pressure on you, even for minor accidents.
When you get into an accident, even a fender-bender, there are certain steps you should take to make sure that you are able to hold the negligent party liable for your vehicle repairs. You do not want to end up in a situation in which you are responsible to pay for those expenses or to file a claim with your own insurance company, potentially raising your rates.
- Pull over. Even if you just touched bumpers with another vehicle, it is a good idea to pull over and inspect your car for damage. Slow-speed accidents may not cause serious injuries, but they can cause damage to your car, which could require costly repairs. If you cannot pull completely off the road, pull as far as possible onto the shoulder and use your hazard lights to let other drivers know they should slow down.
- Give help to anyone injured. If someone has suffered injuries, treat them as well as you can. If they are more serious, call 911 to get assistance from emergency medical personnel.
- Take pictures and video. You need to do what you can to preserve evidence of the accident. Take pictures and video of each vehicle, paying special attention to any noticeable damage. Also take pictures of the entire accident scene and anything else that may seem relevant.
- Exchange information with the other driver. Speak with the other driver and get their insurance information and contact information. It is a good idea to take a picture of their license and insurance card. They may ask the same of you.
- Get witness contact information. Witnesses can often provide unique perspectives about the seconds leading up to the accident. If the at-fault driver refuses to admit fault, witnesses may be required to back up your allegation that the other driver caused the accident. Therefore, make sure you get contact information from any witnesses to your accident.
- Call the police. Although it may not be necessary, calling the police is never a bad idea. The officers will create a police accident report detailing what happened and will file the report with the state so you do not have to do so. Although the police may not assign fault in their report, they will clearly document exactly what happened, making it more difficult for the at-fault driver to deny responsibility.
- Document everything. At the accident scene, write down as many details as you can remember about the collision and the seconds leading up to it. Your memory will fade quickly, so documenting these details just minutes after the accident will help you retain information.
When You Should Involve Police
Knowing when to involve the police is not always easy. However, if your car accident includes any of the following, call 911 before leaving the accident scene:
- When anyone has injuries
- If the other driver does not have insurance
- If the other driver does not have a valid license
- If you suspect the other driver is drunk or otherwise impaired
- When your vehicle is not safe to drive
- When the other driver leaves the scene of the accident
- If the other driver refuses to give you contact information
- If the other driver refuses to admit fault for the accident
Ultimately, if you have questions about whether to call the police, do so. It is much better to call them and not need them than to need them and not call them.
Suing after a Fender-Bender
In some instances, you may need to consider suing the other driver after a fender-bender. Although this might sound extreme and you might be more concerned with other things in your life, this could be the only way you can collect compensation for your vehicle repair costs.
Many car accidents cause substantial damage to a vehicle, even fender-benders. People involved in these accidents often vastly underestimate the total amount of money required to get their car fixed. The last thing you want is to pay out of pocket to repair your car when you did not cause the accident.
You might be thinking that you will just file a claim with your own insurance company. You can do so, but that might result in your insurance premiums going up. Although you should alert your insurance company that you were involved in an accident, think twice about filing a claim with them.
If your car was damaged, it may cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars to fix the damage and make the vehicle drivable again. You may also need to rent a car for a few days or weeks while your vehicle is in the shop. All these costs should be the sole responsibility of the at-fault driver, the one who caused your fender-bender.
Therefore, you may need to speak with a lawyer. A trusted legal advisor can help determine if you can or should sue the negligent driver and attempt to recover your car repair costs. Although you may need to pay out of pocket initially, you can seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver, along with additional compensation for any lost income or other financial losses you faced by having to take time off work to deal with the necessary car repairs.
Reporting the Accident to Your Insurance Company
You do need to let your insurance company know you were involved in a fender-bender. The amount of time you have to do this will be found in your insurance policy. Usually, it is noted as a reasonable amount of time, but it could be as little as just a few days after your accident.
Therefore, it is a good idea to report the accident as soon as possible. Your insurance company insures your car, so they will want to know if the vehicle has been damaged. Although you should avoid filing a claim with them, you do need to let them know about the accident. They may even suggest you call a lawyer to help you recover your costs.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Clients with a Variety of Accidents
Even with a minor a car accident, it can be confusing trying to figure out what to do next. Many people simply want to get out of the situation as quickly as possible and avoid calling the police and getting a police report. Depending on the circumstances, you may need that report, but even if you did not get one, all is not lost. You have legal options to hold the negligent driver liable for your vehicle repairs and any injuries you may have suffered. Reach out the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive full and fair compensation. Call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, allowing us to represent clients in 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.