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Maryland Comparative Negligence Laws

The state of Maryland has some of the harshest liability apportionment laws in the U.S. The contributory negligence doctrine is the leading liability apportionment law. The doctrine has resulted in several personal injury claims being dismissed due to the plaintiff’s limited negligence.

Contact our Maryland car accident lawyers for a free consult if you have been injured anywhere in MD including Annapolis, Glen Burnie, Bel Air, Elkton, Baltimore, Bethesda, Frederick or Ocean City, Maryland. They are very knowledgeable when it comes to Maryland comparative negligence laws. Below is an overview of the doctrine and how it applies to Maryland personal injury cases.

Comparative Negligence Doctrine

The comparative negligence doctrine is a rule of law applied to personal injury claims which determines the degree of fault for all parties involved in the lawsuit. Under this doctrine of law, the recovery the plaintiff may receive for their personal injury claim is reduced or prohibited based on the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff. This doctrine is commonly applied to personal injury lawsuits throughout the U.S. It is relatively accepted within the legal community as fair and just. However, Maryland has yet to adopt this doctrine of law.

Contributory Negligence Doctrine

Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, a plaintiff will be unable to recover damages for a personal injury caused by another person if his/her own negligence has added to the cause of the accident in any way. Basically, if a plaintiff contributes to her damages, she will be barred from recovery. Board of County Comm’r of Garrett County v. Bell Atlantic, 695 A.2d 171 (Md. 1997). Contributory negligence is used as a defense to a tort. It has been criticized by members of the legal community for being too harsh on plaintiffs. There are only four states, including the District of Columbia, that recognize and apply the contributory negligence doctrine:

  1. Alabama
  2. Maryland
  3. North Carolina
  4. Virgina

Below are common examples on how contributory negligence bars a plaintiff from recovering damages:

Jane was driving at an excessive speed rushing to get to work. She was swerving in and out of lanes when she was struck by Betty who ran a red light. Jane suffered a broken leg and arm as a result of the accident. Betty hired a personal injury attorney to represent her in court. The attorney collected and presented evidence that proved Jane’s increased speed contributed to the accident occurring. But for Jane speeding, she would not have been hit by Betty. The attorney argued Jane’s contributory negligence should bar her from recovery. The jury agreed and Jane was unable to recover damages for her injuries.

Pete was rushing to get home to catch the end of the baseball game after a long day in the office. He was driving 20 mph over the speed limit. Scott was driving 400 ft ahead of Pete when he stopped at a light that he thought was red. Scott had consumed two beers earlier that day prior to getting behind the wheel. Pete slammed into Scott upon his abrupt stop and injured his rib cage and right leg. Scott filed a personal injury lawsuit against Pete. Pete’s attorney asserted a contributory negligence defense. The court ruled in favor of Pete. The court held that since Scott was driving under the influence of alcohol, and could not tell the color of the light as a result, his negligence contributed towards his injuries.

Contact A Maryland Car Accident Attorney

Contact our Maryland personal injury attorneys to schedule a consultation regarding your case. Our attorney will review the nature of your case and provide you with legal advice and guidance on the possible outcomes for recovery. Do not delay in obtaining representation.

Our team of injury attorneys serve all of Maryland including Anne Arundel County, Cecil County, Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Worcester County and Wicomico County.