As someone who's been a Maryland car accident attorney for much of my career, I understand the stress my clients feel when they've been in a car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle accident in or around Baltimore and the Mid Atlantic region.
A motor vehicle accident ruins your day. It's shocking, nerve wracking, and can cause personal injury and wrongful death. Even in the best-case scenarios where the driver walks away uninjured from the crash, the emotional and mental stress takes its toll. And sometimes when the driver walks away OK, the vehicle isn't as lucky. Damages can be costly and repairs can be time-consuming.
So I understand why, when an auto accident happens, sometimes people just want to get the heck out of there. The flight response kicks in. But let me give you some advice that could save you time, money, aggravation -- even your life: ALWAYS call the police from the scene of an auto accident in Maryland or wherever it happens. Even if the other driver says, "Let's just exchange information and not call the police." Bad idea. Here's why:
- The police serve as a buffer between you and the other driver. People get hot under the collar after an accident and can become irrational and even violent. There are maniacs out there and people with guns and weapons in their vehicles. You don't know who just hit you or vice versa. Dial 911 from your cell phone and get the police on the scene asap.
- The police keep everyone honest. There are usually two sides to every story and every car accident. Let the police ask the questions and sort out what happened. The other driver may not be as honest as you and may not have the proper documentation in his or her vehicle.
- Ask the responding police officer to file a report. Even if the officer opts not to do this, he/she will provide you with an information exchange sheet, which will contain details and relevant information which you would perhaps neglect to get yourself. If you've been in an accident, you are probably in a fog and you may not remember details after the fact (see my "Just in Case" blog entry of Dec. 18, 2008 on taking pictures and notes at the Maryland car accident scene). Let the police do their job to document the incident.
The unexpected can and does happen on Maryland highways and roads. If you're in a car crash in Maryland, resist the knee-jerk reaction to just "exchange information" with the other driver and book it out of there. That person may be uninsured and may not even give you their correct name and phone number. Call the police. It's their business.
Next installment of "Help, I've Been in An Accident!": Witnesses, insurance companies, and lawyers (Oh My!).
Related Web Resources