Jill Kolodner | December 19, 2023 | Car Accidents
Is it illegal not to report a car accident? If you are involved in a car accident in Baltimore, Mayland, you might have to report an accident. Maryland law requires you to report your accident under some circumstances, and you can cause yourself big problems if you don’t. For this reason, it is important for you to know what your reporting obligations are before you get into an accident.
What Is an MVA Collision Report?
The Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) is what Maryland calls its DMV. An MVA collision report records information about a car accident. It provides the following information:
- The time and location of the accident;
- The names of the people involved (both drivers and passengers);
- A description of the accident;
- The license plate numbers of any vehicles involved;
- Any property damage; and
- Any injuries.
The MVA collision report is useful to the police, insurance companies, and courts.
Reporting Obligations Under Maryland Vehicle Code 20-107
According to Maryland Vehicle Code 20-107, reporting obligations for all drivers kick in whenever an accident results in bodily injury or death. Unless an exception applies, all drivers must file an MVA collision report within 15 days of the accident. They must also provide the MVA with proof of insurance or sufficient financial resources (security).
Car Owner’s Obligations
If the driver of a vehicle is not the owner and cannot file the MVA report (due to injury, for example), the MVA might demand a report from the car owner.
Exceptions to the MVA Filing Requirement
There are three main exceptions to the MVA filing requirement:
- The accident resulted in neither death nor injury. Most such accidents are rear-end accidents.
- The police arrived at the scene of the accident and completed a report. If this happens, the police will bear responsibility for filing the report with the MVA. This exception applies in most injury accidents, which is why most drivers don’t need to file MVA reports.
- You are physically incapable of filing the MVA report (typically due to injury).
These exceptions almost “swallow the rule” because they apply most of the time.
How To File an MVA Collision Report
You have two ways of reporting a car accident: (i) call the MVAs customer service line at 800-950-1682, or (ii) file a collision report online. If you call to report the accident, make sure you have all of the necessary information handy (as listed above).
The MVA will send you a copy of the report after they file it. Keep this copy. Although it is probably not admissible as evidence in court, the insurance company might require it before they will pay your claim.
The Consequences of Failing To Report an Accident in Maryland
What happens if you don’t file an accident report? If Maryland law requires you to file a collision report with the Maryland MVA, you could run into big problems when you try to file an insurance claim later. In fact, it might turn out to be possible to win any compensation.
This problem can get particularly acute if you suffered serious injuries in the accident (such as a head injury) that did not manifest symptoms until later. This is more common than you might think, and it could result in crippling medical expenses.
Other possible repercussions for failing to report an accident include:
- Suspension or revocation of your driver’s license and
- Suspension or revocation of the registration for all of your vehicles.
Report any injury accident to the Maryland MVA as soon as possible. The best way to avoid this problem, of course, is to call the police to the scene of the accident so that they will file the collision report for you.
Do You Have To Report an Accident to the Police?
Reporting an accident to the police and reporting it to the MVA are not the same thing. Your insurance company might require you to report the accident to both the MVA and the police, even if there are no injuries or deaths.
If you suffer serious property damage in a car accident, you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the insurance company. Both the collision report and the accident report can serve as critical evidence during settlement negotiations.
Following are some circumstances when you should call the police regardless of whether or not you have to:
- You hit an unattended vehicle (a parked car, for example) and you can’t find the owner.
- A vehicle needs to be towed.
- An intoxicated driver (including yourself) was involved in the accident.
- A driver was driving without a license.
- The accident was a hit-and-run. Get the car’s license plate number if you can.
- One of the drivers cannot or will not exchange contact and insurance information with you.
- A domestic animal (a dog, for example, but not necessarily a deer) was hit.
Your best bet is to call the police as a matter of course after any accident.
Your Legal Options
Maryland is an “at-fault” auto insurance state. If the accident was someone else’s fault, you can either file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver’s auto liability insurance policy, or file a personal injury lawsuit in court. Maryland requires its drivers to purchase the following mandatory minimum auto insurance:
- $30,000 per person in bodily injury liability coverage;
- $60,000 per accident in bodily injury liability insurance coverage; and
- $15,000 for property damage liability.
The other driver should be able to cover at least this much. Keep in mind, however, that nearly 15% of Maryland drivers are uninsured. For this reason, you might want to consider purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.
Let a Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer Help
If you suffered an injury in a Baltimore car accident, you might have a valuable personal injury claim. If you try to handle your claim on your own, the odds are the insurance company will manage to convince you that your claim is worth a lot less than it actually is. An experienced personal injury lawyer, however, won’t fall for any insurance company tricks.
Contact the Baltimore Car Accident Law Firm of WGK Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help
For more information, contact the Baltimore car accident law firm of WGK Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free initial consultation.