Fatal and serious accidents are commonplace on the Beltway. In April 2018, a two-vehicle wrong-way crash claimed the lives of two drivers on the Beltway at Lochearn.
More than 500,000 vehicles travel I-695 every day. It’s notorious for congestion and wrecks, and has a poor record for rear-end truck crashes in stop and go traffic experienced during rush hours.
While some parts of I-695 are more dangerous than others, every mile of the Beltway is hazardous, particularly during peak congestion times. If you are involved in an accident, it’s important to take steps to safeguard yourself and your passengers. Your actions directly after a wreck can affect your recovery from injury and a potential future personal injury claim.
What To Do After an Accident on the Beltway During Rush Hour
1 – Check Yourself for Injuries
Evaluate your injuries if you have been hurt and the extent of them. If you sustained an injury, call 911 immediately or get someone else to do it for you. Try not to move if you have suffered serious injuries. Wait for first responders to arrive at the accident scene.
2 – Check on your passengers.
Do a quick check on the wellbeing of passengers if there are others in the car and you are not too badly hurt to preclude moving. Pay particular attention to child passengers who may not be able to articulate their injuries. Call the emergency services if any passengers are hurt. You should call 911 in most accidents unless the wreck was a minor fender bender.
3 – Get Your Vehicle to a Safe Place
If you can still drive your car, get it quickly to a safe place. Often other vehicles hit cars that are disabled after a wreck, particularly at times of congestion on the Beltway. Drive your car to the side of the interstate or another safe place. If you cannot drive it, leave it and get yourself and passengers to a secure place.
4 – Use Hazard Lights
You should activate your vehicle’s hazard lights after an accident on the Beltway during rush hour or at any other time. Many drivers will be hurrying to get to work or to get home and they are more likely to see a stricken car if its hazard lights are activated.
If it’s safe to get out of your car and you have additional safety equipment, set down warning triangles, or emergency flares around the crash site.
5 – Call 911
You should call 911 after being involved in an accident on the Beltway. The trooper will secure the accident scene and compile a report about what happened that will likely prove invaluable in a future personal injury claim. Never leave the scene of an accident. You may face criminal charges, the revocation of your driving privileges and the loss of your driver’s license.
Although Maryland law does not require the police to be informed when a wreck leaves no injuries and a car does not require towing, many drivers will inform the police over crashes that cause property damage only. If some property damage has occurred, a liability dispute can occur. One of the issues may be whether the accident ever occurred. A police report will provide that documentary evidence.
What to Tell the 911 Operator
Often people who have been involved in an accident are in shock. However, it’s important to be precise in your 911 call. Tell the dispatcher.
- Who? Provide your name and contact numbers in case the authorities need to get more information from you after the call.
- Where? Tell the dispatcher exactly where the emergency occurred. Give the city, road name, the closest mile marker, your direction of travel and the nearest intersection. Give as much information as possible so as the emergency services can find you quickly.
- What? Provide as much information as you know about the accident such as whether there are injuries, a party has a health condition or if a fire took place at the scene. Tell the dispatcher if any hazardous materials are at the scene.
6 – Exchange Information
After checking for injuries, you should exchange contact and insurance information with other drivers involved in the crash. You should exchange the following information after an accident on the Beltway during rush hour
- Full name and contact information;
- Driver’s license and vehicle plate number;
- Insurance company and policy numbers;
- Model, type , color and age of the vehicles involved;
- The location of the accident.
This exchange with the other driver should be limited to documentary details. Do not discuss blame or admit fault to another driver.
7 – Gather Evidence
Your ability to gather evidence after accident on the Beltway during rush hour will depend on the extent of injuries and your ability to do so safely.
However, documentary evidence from the scene can be important to a subsequent personal injury claim. Investigating officers may get facts wrong and it’s difficult to clear up the record weeks later.
Some recommended steps to take include:
- Identifying the police officers.
When the police arrive at the scene, record the name and badge number of all responding officers.
- Get a copy of the accident report
Request a copy of the accident report from the police officers after they have compiled it at the scene.
- Record names
Write down the names, addresses and contact details of all parties involved, including any passengers in other vehicles. Get the details of witnesses to the accident who are still be at the scene.
Take pictures and video
If you are in a fit state to do so, carefully document the accident by taking pictures from different angles of the damage to your vehicle and other vehicles. In the era of smartphones, many drivers and passengers have video capability. Video the scene and even get witness statements on video. Footage should include the other car’s license plate.
8 – Be Careful About Statements to Troopers and First Responders
Whatever you say at an accident scene can be used against you in a future personal injury claim. Never admit fault to an investigating officer. Restrict your statements to facts about the accident. Don’t venture opinions. Don’t be untruthful.
When medical professionals ask you if you were hurt, avoid sweeping statements like saying you are “fine.” Often the symptoms of a car, truck or motorcycle accident set in days after a crash. Brain injuries may not become apparent for weeks. The other side’s insurance company may use your statement that you were fine to minimize the extent of your injuries.
If you were injured, or believe that you may be hurt from the accident, get yourself checked out as soon as possible and give medical personnel a full, complete and accurate history of your health issues. Use your own medical provider if possible.
Notify Your Insurer and Consult a Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer
You can talk to your insurance company after the wreck to get advice. If another driver was to blame and you have been injured, it makes sense to talk to a personal injury lawyer.
There are many inherent risks in talking to the other side’s insurance company. The adjuster is not on your side and may try to get you to incriminate yourself and make a recorded statement. There is no legal obligation to make a recorded statement.
If you hire an experienced Maryland car accident injury attorney, the lawyer will deal with the other side’s insurance company and take these complicated issues out of your hands.
Talk to a Maryland Personal Injury Lawyer After an Accident on the Beltway During Rush Hour
Every day an average of 300 accidents take place in Maryland. Many of them involve injuries and a large number occur on the Beltway. A Baltimore car accident injury lawyer can evaluate your claim and make sure you avoid making mistakes post-accident that will harm your case. Call us to schedule a free consultation at (410) 694-7291.