Maryland Auto Accident Laws and Resources
From Ocean City to Hagerstown to Frederick to Baltimore, there are thousands of city and country roads in Maryland. You can visit Annapolis, Baltimore, the Piedmonts and Chesapeake Bay. These roads are used by 4 million drivers every year, who each drive approximately 9,600 miles per year. As they drive this scenic state, they are often involved in serious and occasionally fatal car accidents. If you live in or visit the Old Line State, it is important to carry enough auto insurance to make sure you are protected if you are liable for a car accident. Also, it is important to understand the rules of the road and legal implications of car accidents in Maryland.
Statistics and Notable Car Accident Lawsuits
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration or MVA states there are more than 100,000 auto accidents in the state every year. Of the 103,734 average car accidents per year from 2003 to 2007, 580 of the accidents were fatal. There were 36,000 accidents that involved injury, and 66,000 had property damage. On average, there are 635 people killed in Maryland car accidents per year, and 55,000 are injured.
The rate of fatalities in this state is lower per 100,000 people than the rest of the country. Rate of fatalities in car accidents is 11% here, and 14% across the US. The number of fatalities per 100 million miles driven is also lower than the national average: 1.15 compared to 1.4. By population in 2014, there were 7.4 fatalities per 100,000 population in the state, compared with 10.25 in the US.
By county, Prince George’s had the highest number of auto deaths, followed by Baltimore, Montgomery and Anne Arundel.
The number of alcohol related deaths in the state also has fallen over the last several years. Fatal car accidents with a driver with a BAC above. 08% dropped from 165 in 2005 to 130 in 2014. The number of pedestrian deaths has not changed greatly in the past decade. From 2005 to 2014, the number of pedestrians killed remained at 100 or so.
Of the 442 fatal car accidents in 2014, 254 of them were with only one vehicle; 49 involved a big rig or other commercial vehicle; 134 involved speeding; and 65 involved a rollover.
Even though there are fewer fatalities on the roads of Maryland, drivers here still pay about the national average for their car insurance rates. In some areas, it is even above the average amount.
A major car accident lawsuit in Maryland that has received press in recent months is a $500,000 settlement related to a 2013 police chase in Baltimore. City officers were driving at high speed in pursuit of Terrell Young, a 28 year old facing drug distribution charges. They chased him for several miles and abandoned the chase right before he crashed at 100 MPH at an intersection in North Baltimore. He killed himself, his passenger and a woman he hit in an SUV.
The Board of Estimates for Baltimore in 2017 approved that above settlement, as well as another one for $350,000 which was to be paid to the estate of a man who was killed after being hit by a garbage truck in 2016.
The settlement for the police chase will be divided among three parties. In Maryland, the local
government cannot be forced to pay more than $500,000 for a single crash.
Dispatchers just before the crash advised the police to stop the chase because the man was fleeing at high speed through red lights. Just a few seconds before the crash, the officers were clocked at 75 to 84 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Baltimore police were outlawed under rules at the time to engage in a high speed pursuit in an urban area, unless the circumstances were extreme. Prosecutors did not bring charges against the police officers after they reviewed the circumstances of the crash.
The rule has been changed as of 2016; rules of engagement in Baltimore now allow officers to continue the pursuit of a fleeing vehicle if the person driving the vehicle is a felony suspect who poses an immediate danger of injuring or killing someone else. The police chase in the above accident went on for about four minutes before the fatal crash.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Maryland
The laws of Maryland require you to carry a certain level of auto insurance. If you do not carry this insurance, you can be fined. The minimum amount of auto insurance required in Maryland is:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per person in each accident
- $60,000 in bodily injury for every person in each accident
- $15,000 for property damage liability
- $2500 minimum personal injury protection
- $30,000 and $60,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury protection
- $15,000 for minimum uninsured motorist property damage
This state will allow you to waive the personal injury protection if you sign a legal document. You also do not have to have collision or comprehensive insurance, but you may choose to if you have a substantial amount of assets.
Maryland features a tort system in the case of a car accident. This means if you are found at fault in a car accident, you may be sued for damages from the injured party.
Negligence Laws in Maryland
In Maryland, there is a contributory negligence standard for auto accidents. For example, say you are crossing a road by foot in Baltimore to visit friends at National Harbor. You cross the street in the cross walk, but the sign was red. At that moment, a speeding, drunk driver hits you and you suffer serious injuries.
In Maryland, the mere fact that you crossed the street when the sign was red might be enough to bar you from obtaining financial damages in a lawsuit. This is the contributory negligence standard. It holds that if you did anything to cause the accident that injured you, you may not be able to recover damages.
This archaic legal standard is used only in a few states, with Maryland being one of them. The doctrine was challenged in 2013, but the state court of appeals upheld the theory; the name of that case was Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff jumped and grabbed a crossbar during a soccer match. The crossbar was unattached to the ground, and the resulting accident left him with serious injuries. The jury found the man was partially negligent, and he could not recover any financial damages.
If you are in an accident in Maryland, it is important to have strong legal representation. If you are found at fault at all, you may not be able to sue for damages for your car accident.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Maryland
According to state law, you have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim in Maryland. After a car accident involving injury, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim or lawsuit. The same is the case for a wrongful death lawsuit. In this case, the claim must be filed within three years of the person’s date of death.
Other Maryland Driving and Accident Laws
There are several new driving-related laws in Maryland you should be familiar with:
- There is a ban on texting and driving for all drivers and ban on cell phone use for new drivers. As of 2013, it is a primary offense to use a handheld cell phone when driving. This means you can be pulled over for this infraction alone if you are seen by a law enforcement official. The only exception is for calling 911 for an emergency. You can be fined $75 for a first time violation.
- As of 2013, everyone in the vehicle in Maryland must have a seatbelt on, and you cannot carry more people in a vehicle than there are seatbelts.
Maryland Car Accident Resources
If you have been in a car accident in Maryland, you need to take action as soon as you can. You may need to file a claim, lawsuit, and file a police report. Below are some resources you can use for your Maryland car accident.
- If you were in a serious Maryland car accident, you may have substantial medical bills, lost wages and even pain and suffering. If so, you may be considering a personal injury claim. Lawsuit Info Center can assist you. This is a comprehensive and free website that is a useful resource that assists injured drivers and passengers to find a good personal injury attorney in their area. The website will also can assist you to determine what the case could be worth.
- If you were in a car accident in Maryland and there was more than $1000 in damages to people or property, it must be reported to the police.
- If you are in the middle of a claim or lawsuit and need a copy of a crash report, you can obtain a report from the Maryland State Police.