If you are in a collision, you may have questions about how to respond to a car accident safely and legally. The first steps after a Maryland car accident are to notify the police and seek medical attention for your injuries. Maryland law requires you to report most accidents to the police (and it is a good idea to do so). After you report the wreck, the next step is to gather information from those who witnessed or were involved in the crash. Then, file a claim with the insurance company that insures the vehicle you were in during the crash. You can also contact an attorney to help you protect your legal rights to receive compensation for your injuries and property damage.
Snyder Law Group provides outstanding legal counsel to injury victims. Our Baltimore car accident attorneys understand the pain endured by those injured in a crash and are here to help victims rebuild their lives. We have helped dozens of clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C., receive compensation to help them cover their medical expenses and other injury-related costs. Our team takes an aggressive and personal approach to support and advocate for accident victims effectively.
What to Do After a Car Accident That Is Not Your Fault?
The moments after a car accident are important to help you protect your physical health and legal rights. The steps you can take after a car wreck when you are not at fault are the same as those to follow if you believe you (or the driver of the car you were in) share some or all responsibility for the crash. These steps include calling the police, gathering information, seeing a doctor, contacting the insurance company, and talking to a lawyer.
Call the Police
Calling the police is the first step after a crash. Maryland law requires drivers to report any accident that results in injury or death. There are other situations where Maryland law requires drivers to call the police, such as if they cannot move their vehicles after an accident or another driver attempts to leave the scene. In some cases, Maryland law gives drivers up to 15 days to report an accident to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration.
Even if you do not think it is necessary, the best practice is to contact law enforcement to ensure you meet your obligation under the law. If you decide not to report the accident, and it turns out you were supposed to, you can face penalties or even jail time. An attorney can help you understand your reporting obligations and what to do if you think you missed the deadline.
Everyone directly involved in the car crash or who witnessed it should exchange information. When everyone leaves the scene of the crash, they should have, at the very least, the names, phone numbers, addresses, insurance details, and driver’s license numbers of the others involved.
Make notes about what led to the crash and what happened during it and afterward. If possible, take photographs of the scene to document the damage to the vehicles. Record the layout of the accident, such as where vehicles are on the road or the location of skid marks. If anything sticks out to you (such as extensive damage to part of your car), take pictures to ensure you have evidence of what occurred.
See a Doctor
Maryland’s most recent crash data shows that auto collisions caused 563 fatalities and 40,788 injuries in 2021. No matter how injured crash victims think they are, they should visit the doctor to identify and address their injuries. The shock of the crash can mask injuries, such as a concussion or internal damage, especially if the victim is not bleeding or showing obvious signs of harm.
Seeing a doctor early on can help victims receive appropriate medical care to encourage their bodies to heal. Additionally, this initial visit helps to support the victims’ claims for damages. They can point to this in their medical records to show a connection between the crash and their subsequent injuries.
Contact the Insurance Company
The next step after a car accident is to contact the insurance company that covers the vehicle you were in during the crash. The best practice is to submit this claim soon after the accident. Insurance companies often look for ways to avoid paying compensation to accident victims. If you delay reporting the accident, they may try to use this to undermine your claim’s credibility. This can create an uphill battle for you or your car accident attorney.
If the insurance company asks you to sign something (like a release or settlement agreement), it is wise to decline until you can talk to an attorney. Unscrupulous insurance companies try to pressure victims into signing documents to avoid paying money on the claim. Injury victims can protect themselves against these tactics by only signing documents they understand and agree to and ones their attorney approves. An attorney can help victims understand how to deal with insurance companies after a car crash.
Talk to a Lawyer
If you were in an auto wreck, you may have a legal claim against the party who caused it. A skilled lawyer can educate you about your legal rights and prepare an effective case strategy. They have the training necessary to negotiate with the faceless insurance company and present compelling legal arguments in your favor. They can also help you meet Maryland’s strict filing deadline to bring a lawsuit (called the statute of limitations).
What Not to Say After a Crash
After a crash, it can be tempting to say things like, “Sorry, I did not see your car there,” or things of that nature. While crash victims may not mean anything by these statements, they can be taken as admissions of fault. It is incredibly important for victims to refrain from saying these types of things even if they do not think they are problematic. The insurance company and at-fault parties may point to these comments to attempt to discredit your claim for damages. This can make it challenging for you to prove the other party is liable.
When talking to the insurance company and those involved in the wreck, try to limit the discussion to only the facts necessary to understand what happened or exchange information. An attorney can help you report the claim to the insurance company and communicate with third parties on your behalf.
What Is the First Thing You Should Do When Responding to a Car Accident?
The first step you should take after a car crash is to call the police. Maryland law requires it (in most cases), and it is an effective way to ensure everyone receives the medical attention they need after a wreck. Further, victims can use the police report as evidence in their favor in a car crash lawsuit.
How to Report a Car Accident to the Police
Ideally, victims can report a motor vehicle accident by calling 911 or a non-emergency line. If they cannot do this right away because of their injuries, they can do so after they are released from the hospital. They can also ask a friend or family member to help with this task, but they should remember that the police will want to talk to those involved in the crash.
I Experienced Mental Trauma After a Car Accident. Can I Get Compensation?
You may have a claim for damages if you suffered mental or emotional trauma after an accident. The strength of your claim depends on the facts surrounding the accident. For example, if the other driver committed an obvious and documented traffic violation like running a red light, this helps boost your claim for liability.
Additionally, you must be able to prove your damages, which can be financial, physical, or psychological. Because trauma is invisible, it can be more difficult for victims to prove on their own. But that does not mean they do not have a claim against the at-fault party. A car crash attorney can review their accident claim and determine if they have a legal right to compensation for mental trauma.
Need Legal Help After a Car Crash? Call 410-THE-FIRM!
The Snyder Law Group, LLC, proudly represents clients throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C. Our experienced Baltimore attorneys understand the frustration that comes from working with an insurance company, medical professional, or another party that refuses to accept liability for negligent or reckless behavior. You can take heart in knowing our talented and experienced lawyers are ready to work for you. We are experienced in handling personal injury claims resulting from serious car and truck accidents, and have secured hundreds of millions in verdicts and settlements*. Please visit our website, www.410thefirm.com, for more information and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.