Here’s the State of Maryland traffic and injury liability laws you need. You may be entitled to compensation from an at-fault motorist.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in the State of Maryland, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and personal injury claim.
You’re entitled to seek compensation from a negligent motorist whether you were walking, riding, or driving another vehicle when the collision occurred.
In this article, we’ll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. For your convenience, we’ve summarized each law and provided a link to the full text of each State of Maryland statute.
Pedestrian Traffic Laws
Pedestrians and Crosswalks
The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian has reached the halfway point of the crosswalk, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the crosswalk as to be in danger.
MD Code § 21-502
Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways
MD Code § 21-502
Pedestrian Control Signals
MD Code § 21-501
Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks
Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection must yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.
Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.
Pedestrians can cross an intersection diagonally only when it is authorized by traffic-control devices.MD Code § 21-503
Pedestrians on Roadway
Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway. Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians are permitted to walk only on or along the left side of the roadway or on it’s shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.
MD Code § 21-506
Pedestrians’ Right of Way on Sidewalks
The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.
MD Code § 21-502
Drivers to Exercise Due Care
The driver of a vehicle must exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and must give warning by sounding the driver’s horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person.
MD Code § 21-504
Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance
MD Code § 21-504
Maryland Driving Laws
Obedience to Traffic Control Devices
A driver must obey any traffic control devices applicable to the driver, unless directed by a traffic or police officer. The traffic control device must be visible enough to be seen by an ordinarily observant person.
MD Code § 21-202
Driving on Right Side of Roadway
Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:
- When passing another driver in the same direction
- When there is an obstruction in the right lane
- Where the roadway is divided into three (3) or more lanes
- Upon a roadway restricted to one way trafficMD Code § 21-301
Passing On the Left
Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane.MD Code § 21-303
Limitations on Overtaking on the Left
Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within two hundred (200) feet of oncoming traffic.
Also, the driver must not drive on the left side of the roadway if any of the following are true:
- The driver’s view of an ongoing vehicle is obstructed by the grade or curve of the roadway
- Their vehicle is crossing or approaching within one hundred (100) feet of any intersection or railroad grade crossing
- The driver’s view is obstructed while approaching within 100 feet of any bridge, viaduct, or tunnelMD Code § 21-305
Passing On the Right
Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:
- When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
- When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction
- On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.MD Code § 21-304
Following Too Closely
A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is “reasonable and prudent”, having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway.MD Code § 21-310
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices
Drivers must not drive while using an electronic device to write, send or read a text message. The two exceptions to this law are (1) the use of a global positioning system (GPS), and (2) a text message to contact 911.
MD Code § 21-1124
MD Code § 21-1124
Drivers and Intersections
MD Code § 21-401
Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections
MD Code § 21-402
Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway
MD Code § 21-403
MD Code § 21-1202
MD Code § 21-1301
Motorcyclists and Lanes of Traffic
Motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and drivers must not take any action to deprive a motorcyclist of his or her right to use a full lane on a roadway.MD Code § 21-1303
Motorcyclists must not pass another driver in the same lane. Commonly known as “lane splitting,” motorcyclists sometimes attempt to pass other drivers when traffic is slowed, or bumper to bumper.MD Code § 21-1303
MD Code § 21-1306
Motorcycles and Headlights
Every motorcycle must be equipped with at least one (1) and not more than two (2) headlights. Every headlight on a motorcycle must be located at a height of not more than fifty-four (54) inches nor less than twenty-four (24) inches.
If persons and vehicles on the highway are not clearly visible at a distance of one thousand (1,000) feet ahead, because of insufficient light or bad weather, then a motorcycle must turn on its headlights.
MD Code § 22-203
Driving Offenses and Accident Rules
MD Code § 21-901.1
Alcohol and Minors
MD Code § 16-113
Driver’s Duty to Give Information and Render Aid
A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person, including other drivers, passengers, and/ or passersby must give their name, address and the registration number of the car they are driving and must upon request, exhibit their driver’s license and information relating to financial responsibility (insurance) to any person injured in the accident, or to the driver, passengers, and/or police officers investigating the accident.
Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.MD Code § 20-104
Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury
A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 20-104, including providing their information, rendering aid, and reporting the accident to the police.
MD Code § 20-102
MD Code § 20-104
Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property
A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 20-104.
MD Code § 20-103
MD Code § 20-104
Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property
A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.
Once located the driver who caused the accident must give their name, address, their insurance information, the registration number of the car being driven, and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle.
If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving their name, address, their insurance information, the registration number of the car being driven, and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle.
MD Code § 20-105
Driver’s Duty to Notify Police Department
A driver involved in an accident resulting in any of the following must call the police:
- Someone has been injured
- A vehicle cannot be safely moved
- A driver appears to be intoxicated
- A driver does not have a license
- A driver tries to leave the scene without providing the proper information
- Public property has been damaged
The police will not routinely investigate collisions that result only in property damage, so there is no need to contact them or file a report.
The driver of each vehicle involved in an accident that results in bodily injury to or death of any person shall, within 15 days after the accident, report the matter in writing to the Administration.
Also, the driver must include in the report evidence of liability insurance or other security. A written accident report is not required if the accident has been investigated by a police officer and a report by the police officer has been filed with the Department of State Police, or the person is physically incapable of making the report.
Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments
Maryland Transportation Authority
Accident Report Forms
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration must prepare and, on request, supply to police departments, sheriffs, and other appropriate agencies or individuals, forms for the written accident reports required by Section 20-107. The forms shall require sufficiently detailed information to disclose the cause of the reported accident, the conditions then existing, and the persons and vehicles involved.
MD Code § 20-113
Open Alcohol Container Law
An occupant of a vehicle must not be in possession of an opened container of an alcoholic beverage or consume a controlled substance while the car is traveling on Maryland roadways. The opened container can be located in a locked glove compartment, the trunk of the car, or in the area behind the rearmost upright seat of the car that is not normally occupied by a person.MD Code § 21-903
Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance
MD Code § 21-902
Ignition Interlock Device
A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant and who has within the past five (5) years had a prior offense as set out in Section 21-902 (below) must have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver’s driving privileges during the pendency of the driver’s probation.
If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.
An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver’s body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
MD Code § 16-404.1
MD Code § 21-902
Maryland Injury Liability Laws
Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits
In the State of Maryland, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:
- $30,000 per person
- $60,000 for two (2) or more people
- $15,000 for property damageMD Ins. Code § 19-504
MD Ins. Code § 19-505
You can find more information in the State of Maryland Auto Insurance Guide.
In Maryland, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim’s liability in causing the accident, their contributory negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives.
If the victim contributed at all to accident, then the victim is barred from receiving any compensation.
Example of Contributory Negligence
One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie’s lane and their cars collided.
Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 worth of damages.
After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson’s car crashed into Melanie’s. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.
Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way.
At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for texting while driving and partially responsible for the accident.
The verdict stated Jackson’s negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie’s equaled 30%. The jury was barred by law from awarding Melanie any compensation for the damages.
Maryland’s No Fault Car Insurance
In Maryland, the law gives car owners the option of purchasing no-fault car insurance. No-fault insurance allows a person, who is injured in a car accident or whose property is damaged, to file a claim with their own car insurance company.
No-fault insurance allows a person to avoid pursuing a negligent driver for compensation for damages. No-fault insurance does not compensate for pain and suffering, and the amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance purchased by the injured party determines their coverage.
MD Ins. Code § 19-505
Statute of Limitations
Maryland has a two (2) year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must either settle their claim within two (2) years, or file a lawsuit.MD Code § 5-101
Small Claims Courts
In Maryland, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. Maryland’s the jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $5,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.
For information about filing in small claims court, visit the Attorney General of Maryland’s website.
Maryland Government Tort Claims – Sovereign Immunity
In Maryland, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees. The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties.
If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.
MD Govt. Code § 12-201
Example: Government Employee Causes Car Accident
If Melissa, an engineer with the Baltimore Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, then the City of Baltimore would be liable for the property damage and personal injuries caused her.
If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of Baltimore can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.
To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.
Additional Maryland Resources
- State Government of Maryland
- Maryland Department of Transportation
- Maryland State Highway Administration
- Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Collision Policy
- General Assembly of Maryland
- Maryland Transportation Authority
- Governors Highway Safety Association
- National Conference on State Legislature
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