Under the Road Traffic Act (1988) the rules are simple.
If you’re driving a motorised vehicle and are involved in an accident which causes damage or injury to another person, vehicle, property or animal, (including dogs, horses, cattle and sheep), you must stop and give your vehicle registration along with your name and address to “anyone with reasonable grounds to be asking for those details”.
In most cases this will be the other driver. And if you’re not the vehicle owner, you should hand over the vehicle owner’s details too.
Reporting a Car Accident to the Police
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When you are involved in a car accident, there are a lot of steps that you need to take – even if the accident may seem minor to you. Most motor vehicle accident victims mistakenly believe that if the accident is not too major, they won’t need to make a big deal out of it. In some cases, the other party who caused the accident may even try to persuade you not to involve the police so that he or she can avoid getting a traffic ticket for violating traffic laws. So, you may be tempted to forgo calling the police and simply try to deal with this on your own.
Do you Need to File a Police Report after an Accident?
If you are involved in a car accident of any type you are contractually obligated to report the accident to your insurance provider. Almost every car insurance policy contains a contract clause that requires any and all types of accidents to the insurance company. However, the contract clause is hard for insurance companies to enforce in all situations. If there are no injuries and no real damage to the vehicles, you and the other driver involved in the accident may not call the police to investigate. If a police report is filed, many police precincts do not forward the police report to the driver’s insurance company. With this being said, in most cases, even in a minor accident, you should probably report the accident to your insurance company in case you need to get repairs done.
Maryland Law Reporting Accidents
Even though the law does not require reporting accidents that do not meet one of this six-prong test, some Maryland drivers still report the collision to the police. Why? First, if there is some property damage, there could be a liability dispute and one of the issues may well be whether the accident ever occurred. In this case, you want to have documented evidence that the accident took place so that you and your insurance company are armed to argue that the other driver was responsible for the accident. If you do call the police, they might not do a full police report. But they will often do what is called an "exchange of information" which accomplishes your goal: proving the collision occurred.
Once a driver has orally reported an accident to the proper authorities, the driver only needs to file a written accident report if a local, county, or state law enforcement agency (i.e., policy or sheriff) did not investigate the accident. So, if you orally reported an accident to the local police, and the police did a formal investigation, you do not need to file any type of written report.
What to Do After a Car Crash
Neil Richardson, licensed insurance agent and The Zebra‘s insurance advisor, offers a word of caution when speaking with the other party: “Refrain from saying anything to the other party or anyone else that could implicate you of fault if there is even a question about who caused the accident,” he says. “The police report will be reviewed (in addition to pictures, driver statements, etc.) to determine fault, and if you made an offhand comment about not paying attention, for example, then you are opening yourself up to be deemed ‘at fault.’ Whether it is the other driver, the police officer taking the accident report, or a representative from either insurance company, sticking to the facts will generally result in the most positive outcome.
When to File a Car Insurance Claim
"A couple little tips I tell my clients about filing accidents: First of all, I always suggest attempting to file a police report or an incident report, so that the other party won’t be able to come back after the fact and try to twist the truth (I’ve seen that done all too many times). Second, I tell people to never discuss the details of the accident with anyone but the police and insurance company. It’s up to the police and insurance adjusters to determine the fault of the accident, not you. I have heard of too many people saying, “Wow, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to do X..."
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