Every day on Maryland roads, drivers are involved in traffic accidents.  Many accidents are minor fender-benders, but more serious ones can result in serious damage to property as well as injuries or even death.  The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) reported that in 2019, 32,918 people were injured in car accidents in the State of Maryland and there were 492 fatalities.

Has this happened to you? If you have ever been in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver, you know that it can be a frightening, confusing, and sometimes painful experience. Whether you are the driver or a passenger, it is important that you know what to do to comply with the law, preserve your rights and get treatment for any injuries and compensation for damage to property.

Here are some tips if you are in a motor vehicle accident:

  • Do what the law requires:

Maryland Law requires that anyone involved in a traffic accident exchange contact information and provide insurance information, including the name of the driver at fault’s insurance carrier, their policy number, and the phone number for reporting accident claims.  If there are injuries to any person or damage to any unattended property, you are required to report that accident to local law enforcement.  You should call 911 and let them know that police, and in case of injuries, paramedics are needed.  Police will arrive and prepare an accident report, which may be useful as evidence in proving legal fault.  Even in cases where there are no injuries, it is helpful to get a police officer to come to the scene and write an accident report.  An accident report is important for filing a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company.

  • Keep your conversations about the accident to a minimum:

At the scene of the accident, it is important to get certain details such as the other person’s contact information and insurance.  It is also important to cooperate with law enforcement and answer any questions by police honestly and to the best of your ability.  However, you want to avoid unnecessary conversations with anyone else at the scene.  Make no statements about who you think was at fault or whether your actions may have contributed to the incident.  If police determine the other party was at fault, any statements you make about causation could hurt any claim you make with that person’s insurance company.

  • Gather as much evidence as you can:

In addition to exchanging information with the other driver, it is important to gather as much information as you can about what happened.  If the police arrive and write a report, make sure that you get a copy of the report or information on how to get one.  Also, record the name of the officer(s) who respond to the scene.  Use your cell phone to record photos and videos of the scene.  Be sure to get pictures of the road, any traffic lights, or signs, as well as the damage to the vehicles and any other property.  Make sure that you review the photos you have just taken to ensure that they capture the images you are seeking.  Try to document other facts that could be important such as weather, the condition of the road, or anything else that you think is relevant to the accident.  Write a summary of everything you can remember about the accident as soon after it happened as is possible.  It is better to err on the side of caution and gather too much information than too little information.

  • See a doctor:

If you are injured, seek medical attention first.  Go to a hospital emergency room or urgent care center, or your primary care physician. Tell medical personnel when the accident happened, whether you were thrown around in the vehicle or hit your head, and what symptoms you are experiencing.  At the time of the accident, you may not feel hurt, but it is not uncommon for a person to begin to feel head, back, and neck pain within hours of the accident.  It is important to have an examination by a medical professional and to follow up with any referrals to orthopedic specialists, physical therapy, or other medical providers.  It is also important to photograph any visible injuries such as cuts, bruises, or burns that result from an accident.

  • Keep track of lost hours of work:

If you are unable to work due to your injuries, it is important to document that.  Keep a log of hours/days missed because of your injuries, as well as hours missed to go to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, and any other medical treatment you are required to receive due to your injuries from an accident.  You may be able to be compensated for lost wages as part of an insurance claim.  It is important to keep a written log of the dates and hours missed from work.

  • Consult a Personal Injury Attorney

If you are injured in a car accident, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney to help you get compensation for your injuries and lost wages.  An attorney can help you maximize the money you recover from the responsible party’s insurance company.  Most personal injury attorneys will offer a free consultation and after reviewing the details of your case, can best advise you about how to proceed.