What To Do If You’re In a Car Accident Without Insurance But Not At Fault In Maryland

Driving without insurance is a serious offense in Maryland—and if you’re in an accident while uninsured, you could face fines and even jail time.
Written by Claire Beaney
Reviewed by Shannon Martin
background
You could face harsh consequences in Maryland if you cause an accident while driving without a valid
Maryland car insurance
policy. Furthermore, because it is a
contributory negligence state
, you will be unable to recover any damages if you are even partially responsible for the accident.
Being involved in a
car accident
is stressful enough without having to worry about the legal ramifications of not being insured. Fortunately, we're here to explain what exactly to do if you are in an accident without insurance in Maryland.
We’ll go through your possibilities for claiming damages, discuss all the potential penalties for driving without insurance, and discuss how much
car insurance
you truly need in Maryland.
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What to do if you’re in a car accident without insurance in Maryland and not at fault

Driving without auto insurance is illegal in Maryland and carries severe penalties, including fines and possible legal action in the event of an accident. Here's what to do if you're involved in a car accident in Maryland and don't have insurance coverage.
First and foremost, stay where you are and do not leave the scene of the accident. You might be trying to avoid the awkward conversation about your lack of insurance by getting out of there, but doing so will only land you in deeper hot water. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime in Maryland, regardless of whether you were at fault or not.
If you leave, you could receive the following: 
  • A $500 fine and up to two months in jail if the accident caused property damage
  • A felony hit-and-run charge in Maryland, a $5,000 fine, and up to three years in jail if the accident caused serious bodily injury
  • A felony charge, a $10,000 fine, and up to 10 years in jail if the collision results in death
If you are in an accident and do not have insurance, remain calm and at the scene. Pull over when it's safe to do so and check yourself, any passengers, and anyone involved in the crash for injuries. If necessary, call 911 and exchange information with the other motorist, including your license number.
You should collect as much evidence as possible, such as photographs and statements with contact information from eyewitnesses, in case you end up in court down the line.

Who decides fault in a car accident in Maryland?

If called to the scene, accident reports filed by law enforcement officers will aid insurance companies in establishing liability. However, regardless of who is ticketed or what is written in the police report, the insurance company will make the final decision as to who is at fault in an accident.
Getting into an accident without insurance means you'll have to file a claim with the other party's insurer and bear the burden of proving that you weren't at fault. Here is where having pictures, witness statements, and contact details will come in handy. Assuming you weren't at fault in an accident, photos can help you avoid paying the other driver's expenses.

Do you need to report a car accident in Maryland? 

Not all car accidents in Maryland need to be reported to the police. If no one is injured and the drivers can move the vehicles from the road without endangering anyone, calling the police may not be necessary.
However, there are a few situations where contacting the Maryland police and filing a report is required, such as if the following:
  • Someone is injured or killed
  • You hit an unoccupied car and can't find the driver
  • A hit-and-run or a drunk driver caused the accident
  • The other people involved either can't or won't share information about their insurance
  • A domestic animal (like a cat, dog, etc.) was hit in the accident.
State law in Maryland mandates that drivers involved in accidents must report them to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) within 15 days. All drivers involved are required to file a report with the MVA, explaining what happened and providing
proof of liability insurance coverage.

What if you’re at fault?

There can be serious repercussions if you cause an accident without insurance and are found to be at fault. Since Maryland is a strict contributory negligence state, you will be financially responsible for the other driver’s damages if you are found 100% at fault, and the driver can file a personal injury lawsuit to demand the money. 
You cannot receive compensation for injuries sustained in an accident if you were even partially at fault. Even if the other driver was 99% to blame for the accident, you can't get compensation for your damages in this situation.
There are also significant legal repercussions to driving without insurance after an accident in Maryland, including fines, license points, license and/or vehicle registration suspension, and even jail time.

What if you’re hit by an uninsured driver in Maryland?

But what if you have insurance and the other driver doesn’t? Hopefully, you won't have to go after the negligent driver directly if they don't have insurance—but you might be forced to if you don’t have the right coverage.
Thankfully, several supplemental auto insurance coverages are available to help you with unexpected expenses from a car accident. When purchasing insurance, all Maryland drivers must have
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UMC/UIM)
. These coverages will help pay for your medical bills if you are hurt by an uninsured motorist or someone with insufficient
bodily injury liability
coverage.
Maryland is one of the few states that offer drivers both
Medical payments (MedPay)
and
Personal injury protection (PIP)
as optional insurance. If you chose either or both of this coverages, MedPay would make the initial payments to your medical costs up to the policy maximum and PIP will do the same thing for additional medical exspenses plus related exspenses like follow up care, home services, and loss of income
If those costs exceed the policy maximum, your UMC/UIM coverage will kick in for these overages. If you don't have UMC/UIM, your health insurance will usually cover you after your car insurance has paid for everything it can.
Your policy also includes uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) as a required coverage. This coverage pays out up to the
actual cash value (ACV)
of your car or $15,000 when it is damaged by an uninsured driver. 
If your vehicle is newer or has a loan, 
collision coverage
may also be a part of your policy. If UMPD is exhusted and there is still money due to you, collison can kick in after the deductible is met.  
The
Insurance Information Institute (III)
estimates that in 2019, 14.1% of drivers in Maryland were uninsured. This equates to about a 1 in 10 chance that you will be involved in an accident with someone who does not carry liability insurance. In light of these figures, buying UIM and collision insurance is always a good idea.

Penalties for driving without insurance in Maryland

While you may be able to seek compensation if you were not at fault in a car accident without insurance, the penalties for driving without insurance in Maryland are severe.
For example, if you are caught driving without liability insurance for the first time, you could face the following penalties:
  • Fines of up to $1,000
  • $150 in administrative fees for the first 30 days of driving without insurance, plus $7 per day after that.
  • Five points on your license
  • One year in jail
If you get caught driving without insurance again, you could be subject to the following additional damages:
  • Fines of up to $2,000
  • $150 in administrative fees for the first 30 days of driving without insurance, plus $7 per day after that.
  • Suspension of your license and/or vehicle registration
  • Five points on your license
  • 2 years in jail
You will have 15 days to gather your proof of insurance is you are stop driving without it, whether it’s your policy or a digital ID card.
There is no way to get out of paying these fees, as you cannot retroactively apply insurance policies or challenge the fines in court. The only exception is if you had insurance at the time of the accident but didn't have
proof of insurance
on hand. To avoid paying these substantial fees, you must demonstrate that you had coverage within 15 days of the collision.
MORE: The penalties for using fake proof of insurance

Minimum required car insurance in Maryland

To avoid legal trouble in Maryland, how much insurance coverage do you need? Drivers must have, at the very least, a certain amount of liability insurance (30/6015) and uninsured motorist insurance (30/60/15). Here’s a breakdown of
Maryland's car insurance requirements
:
  • $30,000 of bodily injury liability per person
  • $60,000 of bodily injury per accident
  • $15,000 of
    property damage liability
    per accident
  • $30,000 of uninsured motorist coverage, bodily injury per person
  • $60,000 of uninsured motorist coverage, bodily injury per accident
  • $30,000 of uninsured motorist property damage per accident
The minimum Maryland liability insurance coverage likely won't be enough protection in the event of anything more serious than a fender bender.
Most experts recommend buying limits of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability, with at least $100,000 for property damage liability. These limits aren't too expensive and will help keep your financial future safe in almost any situation.
You'll likely notice that collision and
comprehensive insurance
are optional in Maryland. However, even if your vehicle is older, comprehensive coverage can protect you from losses like glass damage, windstorms, vandalism, and more.

Driving without insurance can increase premiums

The increased premiums you'll have to pay
after you're caught driving without insurance
are another good incentive to have at least the minimum state-mandated liability coverage. As long as the tickets and accidents stay on your record, it's likely that your insurance rates will go up significantly.
Jerry
was spot on. I’m young with one rear end on my record. Still, they dropped my monthly insurance rate from $468 to $250. This really saved me money.” —Jason M.
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