How Long Do You Have to File a Police Report After a Car Accident?

In the immediate aftermath of a car accident in Baltimore, there are a lot of things that you will have to do. Remaining on the scene, moving your car to a safe place, making sure that everyone is alright, and waiting for medical attention if you have been hurt are all high priorities. Many of these responsibilities exist even if there were no injuries or the crash was a minor one, like a fender bender.

However, once all of the dust settles, you are still responsible for your role in reporting the accident to the police. Contrary to popular belief, the police will not always respond to a car crash, especially if it only involves property damage. If there is no police report, though, it can be far more difficult to get the compensation you need to recover from the accident if you were not the driver who caused it. Additionally, there are circumstances where you could face penalties like a license suspension if you do not report a crash to the police.

The car accident attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian represent clients who have been involved in car crashes in the area and can help you navigate through the process of appropriately reporting a crash to the police.

Seven Situations Where You are Required to Call the Police After a Crash

While you are not required to notify the police of all crashes that happen in Maryland, if the crash was a serious one, you must call the police immediately after it happens. There are seven situations that make a car accident serious enough to warrant a call to the police:

  1. Someone has been hurt in the crash,
  2. A vehicle cannot be safely moved out of the roadway,
  3. A driver seems to be drunk or under the influence,
  4. A driver does not have a driver's license,
  5. One or more of the vehicles has fled the scene in a hit-and-run,
  6. The crash damaged public property, or
  7. The accident injured a domestic animal.

In these cases, you must notify the police of the crash immediately after it happens. The good part of this is that the police will then respond to the accident and their presence will lead to a police report of the incident, taking all further responsibility out of your hands.

However, if the police do not come to the scene of the crash and a person was hurt or killed in it—not an animal—you will have to file an accident report and proof that you have insurance with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) within 15 days of the crash, under Maryland Transportation Code § 20-107. Failure to do so can lead to a license suspension under § 20-109.

Reporting an Accident When Police Do Not Respond

It is when a car accident is not serious enough to warrant a police response that things get a little tricky and you will have to do some extra legwork, rather than rely on the police. However, the good news is that there are no legal penalties for not reporting accidents that do not lead to someone getting hurt.

In these car accidents, you will need to gather information about the other drivers who were involved in the crash, as well as contact information of any witnesses who may have seen it happen. Useful information to obtain about other drivers includes:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • License plate number and state
  • Driver's license number
  • Vehicle information, including its make, model, and year, and its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Insurance company's name, policy number, and expiration date

For witnesses to the accident, getting their name and contact information should suffice.

It is also helpful to make a note of the date, time, and location of the crash, the weather and road conditions at the time of the collision, and the number of vehicles involved.

To help facilitate this information gathering, the MVA has a useful form available. Having several copies in your car's glove compartment can help you quickly and easily record the information you will need.

Why You Should Report a Crash When It Is Not Legally Necessary

You can only face legal penalties for not reporting a car crash that ended with people getting hurt. However, it is beneficial to make a report of any accident that happened in which you suffered any kind of damage—including just property damage to your vehicle—because then there is evidence that the crash occurred. There is nothing worse than getting into a car accident, feeling fine and unhurt, brushing aside a few scrapes on your back fender so you can get back on the road, than to discover that you have serious whiplash, thousands of dollars of car repairs ahead of you, and no way to contact the other driver. Even more frustrating, the other driver could suddenly claim that the accident never occurred and that you are making everything up.

Following protocol and notifying the police if the crash falls into one of the seven categories of accidents that require police attention, and gathering information from the other drivers if the crash does not, can create a paper trail of the incident that you can use to get the compensation you deserve from the driver who caused the accident.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian

Car accidents can be painful, life-altering, and stressful. Reporting them to the appropriate authorities and taking the necessary precautions to protect your rights and interests in the long run can be difficult. But taking the time and making the effort at the moment can pay huge dividends months down the road.

The personal injury and car accident attorneys at the Baltimore law office of Gilman & Bedigian know this. Following these guidelines for the aftermath of a crash in Maryland can help you build your case, rather than hurt it, right after an accident. Contact us online for legal help.

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If someone you are close to has been seriously injured or worse, you are naturally devastated not only by what has happened, but by the effect that the injury or loss has had on you and your family. At a time when you're vulnerable, traumatized and emotionally exhausted, you need a team that will support you through the often complex process that lies ahead.

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