The average accident typically does not involve ambulances and trips to the hospital. Most are what are termed ‘fender benders’. Nonetheless, fender benders may result in relatively high settlements. Therefore, it is important to stay calm and exercise good judgment to ensure that you comply with applicable laws. Here are five things to consider about staying compliant with the law after an accident.
DOCUMENTATION BEGINS IMMEDIATELY
Take pictures of damages to all vehicles involved. Write down names and phone numbers of witnesses. Document the weather conditions: Did it rain or was it a snowy day? The more documented facts in your favor ensure your compliance with the law.
STAY AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT
Sometimes an accident may result in negligible property damage. One party may be in a rush to get to work or other destination and prematurely leave the accident scene. Generally, the thought process is an accident is a civil matter which will be subsequently sorted out through the insurance process. Unfortunately, leaving an accident scene unwittingly exposes the driver to a criminal sanction usually by way of a hefty fine. At the very least, the parties involved should trade contact and insurance information.
BE TRUTHFUL TO THE POLICE
When you are in the wrong, sometimes there is an instinct to cover up by lying or misleading the police. For instance, you may convince your friend to say he/she was driving if your license was expired, suspended or otherwise invalid. In other cases, a person may be untruthful if they were not the insured driver or may tender fake insurance and contact information to the other driver involved in the accident in the presence of a police officer. All these can lead to prosecution and the likelihood of hefty fines.
DO NOT STAY ON THE ROAD
This applies to situations where the vehicles are movable and the damages incurred are minor. There are various reasons why you should not stay on the road. The obvious reason is that it is dangerous and may lead to additional accidents or injuries. Another reason is due to the contributory negligence defense in Maryland, an insurance company may refuse to accept liability if a person was subsequently injured on the road after an accident. Generally, drivers are worried about compromising the scene of the accident and getting into trouble by moving their cars however in a Maryland minor fender bender accident with no injuries, it is ok for the parties to the accident to clear to the side of the road.
KNOW YOUR STATE LAW FOR NOTIFYING THE POLICE AND THE DMV
Some states do not require that motorists notify the police for a minor accident that does not involve injuries. Some states do. Furthermore, some states have a requirement for filling out a form and submitting it to the state’s department of motor vehicles to be fully compliant with the law. You can assume that any automobile accident involving injuries or death absolutely must be reported to the police. Common sense goes a long way toward staying compliant with laws after being involved in a motor vehicle accident. Fender bender accidents usually just involve damage to inanimate objects that can be repaired. Do your best to remain calm, do not admit fault, and be truthful in giving insurance and contact information to anyone directly involved in the accident and to any law enforcement personnel on the scene who asks.
As always, if you need additional assistance regarding your unique situation, contact us at your convenience.