Over 40,000 people were hurt in Maryland car accidents between 2018 to 2022. Among those crashes, over 500 were fatal, and an average of almost 80,000 resulted in property damage. Knowing Maryland car accident laws is key if you want to drive in the “Free State.” Otherwise, it may cost you your vehicular freedom.
Not sure what those laws entail? Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Read on to learn reporting and insurance requirements, Maryland’s at-fault status, and when hiring a lawyer is your smartest move.
What to Do During a Car Crash in Maryland
In every state, the first rule of thumb after a crash is to stop immediately. Move yourself and any passengers out of harm’s way, and drive your vehicle out of the road if possible. Check for injuries and if anyone is suffering from a medical emergency, call 911 as soon as possible.
Those guilty of leaving the scene that resulted in bodily injury or death will be charged with a felony according to MD Transp Code § 27-113. The penalties are either a five-year prison sentence or a $5,000 fine for leaving an accident that caused bodily injury. You may suffer a 10-year sentence or $10,000 fine for leaving a fatal accident.
Your next step should be calling law enforcement if there are any of the following:
- Injuries or death
- Public property damage
- Any driver showing signs of intoxication
- It’s impossible to move vehicles to safety
- A driver tries to flee the scene
- An involved driver doesn’t have a license
- Your vehicle strikes and injures a domestic animal (i.e. someone’s pet)
If there only looks to be personal property damage, you don’t have to call the police. Even so, you should have the police on-scene to issue a collision report to help your attorney assign liability to the crash. The more evidence your attorney has, the better your chances of winning a higher settlement.
However, Maryland car accident law does require that you stop and exchange information with the other driver according to MD Transp Code § 20-104. Any parties in a Maryland crash must swap:
- Contact info of both drivers (name, address, phone, email)
- Driver’s license number
- Vehicle registration number
- Insurance contact, policy number, and expiration date
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle
- License plate number and issuing state
Maryland also offers this handy Collision Information Exchange Form. Print it off and keep a couple copies in the glove compartment of your car. It’s not an official accident report, but rather a comprehensive checklist meant to help you collect the info you’ll need.
Finally, remember to also take photos of the damage and speak to any witnesses, acquiring their contact info if possible.
How to Report a Car Accident in Maryland
If the police have come to the accident scene, you don’t have to personally report a crash in Maryland. That is because the attending law enforcement officer will file a report afterwards. You can request a copy of that report if needed via the Maryland website.
Otherwise, MD Transp Code §20-107 requires any driver in an accident involving injury or death to report the crash as soon as possible.
If the police don’t come to the scene, a driver must self-submit to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). The filing must be a written statement that also includes proof of liability coverage within 15 days of the crash.
Is Maryland a No-Fault State?
Maryland is an at-fault state. That means if the other driver is responsible for the crash, you’re within your rights to sue them for damages. However, there’s a very heavy wrinkle in this at-fault status since Maryland car accident laws use contributory negligence rules.
Maryland Negligence Laws for Car Accidents
Most at-fault states utilize some sort of comparative negligence system to determine compensatory rights. That means while both parties might bear some crash responsibility, the one with the lesser percentage can sue for damages.
Unfortunately, Maryland is one of four states to still function under the contributory negligence rule. The other states are:
What contributory negligence means is that if you were only 1% responsible for the crash, you cannot recover damages. Even if the other driver was 99% at-fault, the defendant still wins out.
Because of this very restrictive law, it becomes even more important to meet with an auto accident attorney in Maryland. And that’s not only because contributory negligence will make it more challenging to win damages in court. It may affect insurance settlements as well.
If a claims adjuster thinks you have even the smallest percentage of culpability, they may try to lowball you. That’s because they don’t think you’ll challenge them if a lawsuit isn’t an option. Having a lawyer on your side, however, can prevent you from accepting a settlement that’s insufficient.
Maryland Car Insurance Laws
Owing to the contributory negligence laws in Maryland, car insurance becomes even more vital during an accident. In fact, all residents must carry auto insurance in order to drive in the state of Maryland according to Md. Code Transportation, § 17-103.
There are three basic types of insurance for Maryland drivers:
Maryland law requires all vehicles to have insurance at all times. The minimum requirements for liability insurance are in the following amounts:
- $30,000 for bodily injury for one person
- $60,000 for bodily injury for two or more persons
- $15,000 for property damage
This 30/60/15 ratio is also the minimum amount for UIM/UM coverage. However, note that these are the minimums. Your accident may be well above these amounts, so many people opt for policies with higher coverages. However, in a state like Maryland where collecting from another driver might be tricky, it’s often worth the additional premiums.
PIP Claim Laws in Maryland
Personal injury protection insurance is not a requirement in Maryland (drivers can waive this on a policy). However, it’s a really good idea to have it in a state with contributory negligence rules. That’s because it covers medical expenses and lost income for people in an accident regardless of fault.
If you are in a car accident in Maryland and have PIP insurance, you can get between $2,500-$5,000 to help with expenses. And an insurance company cannot increase your rates if you use your PIP policy. As a result, many insurance companies will try to convince you to waive this right, but it can be a lifesaver when an accident happens.
Penalties for Not Having Auto Insurance in Maryland
Driving without insurance in Maryland is a misdemeanor according to MD Transp Code §17-107.
First offenses for driving without insurance carries a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail, as well as 5 points on your license. A second conviction carries a $2,000 fine, up to two years in jail, and another 5 license points. Uninsured vehicles may also lose license plates and vehicle registration privileges.
Basically, it’s not worth the risk to drive uninsured in Maryland. Not only is it against the law, but you’ll likely need your own coverage to help pay for crash expenses.
How to Know if You Have a Car Accident Claim in Maryland
Most auto accident lawsuits in Maryland actually end up as negligence claims. That’s because the claimant will have to prove the other party was purely 100% at-fault.
Cases where that holds true usually include situations like drunk driving, or where there was a wrongful death. Also, Maryland has a ban on texting and driving—”driving distracted” could be another claim where total negligence is provable.
You shouldn’t let Maryland’s contributory negligence laws stop you from pursuing a claim if you think you have a case. But you will absolutely need a lawyer when going forward with a lawsuit as there is no margin of error.
Maryland Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for damages in Maryland is three years from the auto accident date according to Md. Ann. Code §5-101. In the case of a wrongful death suit, the filing clock starts from the date of the individual’s untimely passing.
Keep in mind that it’s always better to file sooner rather than later. You want details to be fresh. That’s why meeting with a lawyer immediately after your accident is a smart move.
Also, it’s important to note that this has nothing to do with insurance claims. You must generally report an accident to your insurance within days or at most a few weeks after a crash.
Find a Maryland Auto Accident Lawyer with LegalASAP
Given how restrictive Maryland car accident laws may feel, it’s a good idea to at least speak to an attorney. Yes, a skilled auto accident lawyer can help you determine if you might have a lawsuit. But just as importantly in Maryland, they can advocate for you with your own insurance company to maximize compensation.
Don’t just accept the first settlement offer that comes your way. Let us connect you with a car accident attorney in your area for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and a lot of potential legal support to gain.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann
Kimberly Dawn Neumann is a multi-published NYC-based magazine and book writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications ranging from Forbes to Cosmopolitan. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, College of Journalism. For more, visit: www.KDNeumann.com, Instagram @dancerscribe, and Twitter @KimberlyNeumann