Being involved in any kind of car wreck can be scary and distressing. Along with being hurt, you may be worried about the passengers riding with you and your vehicle. To make a bad situation worse, the person responsible for your crash may drive away, making you the victim of a Maryland hit-and-run accident.
In Maryland, a hit-and-run accident is a crime that occurs when a driver collides with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a stationary object and flees. Maryland law requires you to stop and stay at the scene of any car accident resulting in injuries, death, or a damaged vehicle that can’t be moved. Even if you’re the victim in a Maryland hit-and-run accident, you may not leave the scene unless you need immediate medical attention. You’re required by law to stay there and:
- Call 911
- Give identification/contact info to others involved
- Help anyone who needs assistance
Why Drivers Leave the Scene
The average number of hit-and-run accidents in the U.S. each year is 682,000—approximately 11% of all auto accidents. As of 2018, hit-and-fun deaths hit a record high. These rates have also increased by an average of 7.2% each year since 2009. Most drivers who leave the scene of an accident want to avoid contact with the police because they:
- Have no driver’s license or are driving on a suspended/revoked license
- Have no car insurance
- Are driving a stolen vehicle
- Are impaired due to drugs or alcohol
- Have illegal substances or stolen goods in the car
- Have outstanding warrants
There is no guarantee that a hit-and-run driver will be caught and brought to justice, but there are some things you can do to help your case if you’re a hit-and-run victim, including consulting an experienced Maryland car accident attorney.
What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Maryland Hit-and-Run Accident
After you’ve called 911 and reported the crash to the police, you should take the following steps if you’re physically able to do so:
- Get a photo of the at-fault vehicle and the license plate.
- If you can’t get a photo, note the car’s license plate number, make, model, and color.
- Remember the driver’s appearance.
- Note damage to the at-fault car and the direction in which it drove away.
- Take photos of your damaged vehicle, skid marks, and other evidence.
- Get contact information from any witnesses.
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
- Consult an experienced Maryland car accident attorney.
If you’re not transported to an emergency room, you should see a doctor right after the accident to document your injuries. Even if you don’t feel any pain right away, you could have internal damage that X-rays or a doctor’s exam can reveal. Record your medical expenses, time lost from work, and pain every day after the accident.
What Not to Do if You Are the Victim of a Maryland Hit-and-Run Accident
There are several mistakes to avoid after a hit-and-run accident. You should not:
- Leave the scene or chase the other driver.
- Talk about the accident to anyone except the police.
- Admit any fault.
- Sign anything other than documents required by police.
- Have your car repaired immediately.
- Post anything about your accident on social media.
- Ignore the statute of limitations.
Although you have three years to take action against a hit-and-run driver, you should not wait. It’s important to consult a car accident attorney and get advice about:
- Filing a claim once the at-fault driver is apprehended
- What to do if the driver is not apprehended
- How to file a wrongful death claim if a loved one dies as a result of the accident
Hit-and-Run Is a Crime
In Maryland, a driver who leaves the scene of an accident can face jail time, fines, and/or loss of driving privileges. Even if the at-fault driver is caught and convicted for the crime of hit-and-run accident, however, the conviction will not compensate you for your damages. Instead, you’ll have to file a claim against the driver’s insurance company for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If the driver is never caught or is uninsured, you still might be able get compensation through:
- Your own car insurance: Your uninsured or underinsured motor coverage (UM/UIM) and personal injury protection (PIP) might compensate you if you file a first-party claim. If the company tries to dispute, deny, or devalue your claim, you’ll need a lawyer to fight for your right to fair compensation.
- Your health insurance: If you were struck while walking, skateboarding, or cycling, you might be able to file a claim with your health insurance company.
- A civil lawsuit: If the at-fault driver is convicted, you’re likely to prevail in a civil suit with the proper legal representation.
A personal injury case can be complex and complicated, and having an experienced attorney is vital to your case. Your car accident attorney can put a dollar amount on your damages and negotiate with the insurance company to get you a fair settlement. If your claim is denied or you are offered an unacceptable award, your attorney will file a suit and fight for you in court.
Only four states in the U.S. follow the rule of contributory negligence. Maryland is one of them. This means, you cannot recover any compensation at all for your damages if you are found to be partially at fault for your accident.
If the defendant’s lawyers can show that you are even one percent responsible for the crash, and the other driver is 99% responsible, you will recover no compensation of any kind. This is a critical reason why you need an experienced, knowledgeable attorney in your corner to prove the hit-and-run driver was 100% at fault.
Contact Our Maryland Car Accident Attorneys as Soon as Possible
Timely reporting, prompt medical attention, and the services of an experienced Maryland car accident attorney can help you to get fair compensation after a hit-and-run. Please contact us online, start a chat, or call us to schedule a free consultation. We take cases on a contingency-fee basis, so you pay no attorney fees unless we win your case.