Maryland Car Accident Laws

You’ll need to know Maryland’s car accident laws to file a report or claim damages after being involved in a collision.
Written by Ethan Moser
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
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If you’re in a car accident in
Maryland
, you’ll have to file a police report anytime an accident results in the injury or death of any of the passengers involved, if the accident is a hit-and-run or drunk driving incident, or if you cannot locate the owner of the vehicle you hit. In most other cases, you do not need to file a police report for an accident that only results in property damage in Maryland. 
Car accidents are sometimes unavoidable—even for the most defensive drivers. In the aftermath of an accident, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget what to do. However, missing the important steps after an accident can interfere with your insurance claim or your ability to start a personal injury lawsuit.
To help you navigate Maryland's car accident laws, we've drawn up everything you’ll ever need to know about them. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at when you should report an accident, who’s financially responsible for damages, and how to file a personal injury lawsuit in the Free State.
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What to do after a crash: Maryland car accident reporting laws

Unfortunately, it’s happened—you’ve been involved in a car accident. The
first thing you need to do immediately following an accident
is to check that you and everyone else in your vehicle are okay. If someone is hurt, call 911 immediately. From there, move your vehicle out of harm’s way. 
It’s important that you document the crash and any damages—take photos if you can. You’re also legally required to exchange insurance information with any other drivers involved in the accident before leaving the scene. If emergency personnel are involved, you should also provide your information to an officer.
What happens after you leave the scene? You may be expected to report the accident to up to three parties:
  • To the police
  • The DMV
  • Your insurance company 
To see if you need to report the collision, see the sections below. 

When to report an accident to the police

In Maryland, a police report isn’t required after all car accidents. In fact, if your accident only results in property damage and you and the other involved parties are able to remove your vehicles from the roadway safely, it’s not necessary to involve state or local law enforcement at all. 
That being said, there are a number of times when it will be necessary to contact Maryland law enforcement and file a police report, including any accidents that involve the following criteria:
  • Someone is injured or killed
  • You hit an unattended vehicle and cannot locate the owner
  • The accident is a hit-and-run or drunk driving incident
  • The other involved parties either cannot or will not exchange insurance information
  • The accident involved a domestic animal (cat, dog, etc.) being hit
If police officers were present at the scene of the accident, you probably won’t need to file a report. The responding officers will most likely file their own reports.

When to report an accident to the DMV

According to Maryland state law, drivers involved in an accident are also required to file a written record of their accident with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) within 15 days of the incident. Every driver involved in the accident must submit a statement to the MVA detailing the accident and providing proof of their liability insurance coverage. This statement should include:
  • The name and address of the other driver’s insurance company
  • The policy number of the other driver’s liability insurance policy
  • The name and address of the other driver’s local insurance agent
You should also include details on the time and date of the accident, injuries and damages to passengers and vehicles, and any other pertinent information to support your case if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

Financial responsibility and coverage minimums: Maryland’s insurance laws

Maryland law requires drivers to have the
state-mandated minimum level of coverage
before getting behind the wheel. Drivers must have at least a minimum of 30/60/15 liability insurance coverage, or: 
Driving in Maryland without basic liability insurance coverage can result in a series of penalties and fines that compound based on the circumstances of the incident. For example, the first time you are caught driving without liability insurance, you could face up to:
  • $1,000 in fines
  • $150 in administrative fees for the first 30 days driving without insurance plus $7 for each additional day
  • Five points on your license
  • One year in jail
Should you continue to drive without insurance after your first infraction, you could find yourself facing an additional: 
  • $2,000 in fines
  • $150 in administrative fees for the first 30 days driving without insurance plus $7 for each additional day
  • License and/or vehicle registration suspension
  • Five points on your license
  • Two years in jail
Even if you have liability insurance, you may find yourself involved in an accident with one of the 14.1% of Maryland drivers who are uninsured according to the
Insurance Information Institute (III)
.  To avoid the financial and legal consequences of being in an accident with an uninsured driver, it’s always a good idea to invest in
uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
.

Claiming damages after an accident: Maryland’s personal injury laws

If you’re not satisfied with the compensation you’ve received through your insurance, or if the other driver’s liability insurance is not enough to cover your damages, you may want to open a personal injury lawsuit. Maryland law allows you to claim the following: 
  • Economic damages: These damages can be measured in dollar amounts—medical bills, lost wages, etc
  • Non-economic damages: These damages are a bit harder to determine a dollar amount for, but still significantly and negatively impact the claimant’s quality of life, including pain and suffering, mental suffering, etc
While there is no cap on the amount of money you can claim on economic damages in Maryland, the cap on non-economic damages for 2022 in Maryland has been set at $920,000. This amount increases to $1,380,000 for wrongful death cases. 
If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, you should be aware that, according to Maryland Courts & Judicial Proceedings Code
Section 5-101
, you have three years to file from the date of the accident. 

Exceptions to Maryland’s personal injury laws

There are a few cases where the Maryland statute of limitations on a personal injury lawsuit can be extended, giving you more time to file a claim. The primary exception is made for accidents involving minor drivers. These drivers will have until they turn 21 years old to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

Who’s to blame: Maryland’s contributory negligence law

One of the biggest questions that follows any car accident is the question of fault. If you’re texting and driving and get into an accident with another driver who was speeding, it can be difficult to determine who can collect damages, since both of you were at fault to some extent.
Unlike most states, Maryland uses a harsh contributory negligence law that states that if you are even marginally responsible for causing an accident, you are not entitled to recovering any compensation for damages. In this case, even if the other driver was 99% responsible for the accident, you are not legally able to acquire compensation for damages. Most other states follow a comparative negligence law that allows drivers to receive compensation unless they are found to be more than 50% responsible for an accident.
Maryland’s just one of only four states that follow a contributory negligence rule. Keep in mind that these rules are subject to change depending on the location of the incident—if you are in an accident in another state, their rules may apply. 

How to save money on car insurance in Maryland

Your car insurance premium can go up
by as much as 80% following an accident in Maryland. However, you don’t have to settle for high rates when you shop for a new
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