Last Updated: 02.15.2021
If you are injured in an automobile accident or have suffered other injuries that are the result of another’s negligence, you will quickly learn that dealing with insurance companies, medical professionals, and the legal system is complicated and often times overwhelming.
One major hurdle faced by Plaintiffs is the fact that Maryland uses the old standard of Contributory Negligence. Contributory Negligence says that if you (The Plaintiff) are partly responsible for the injury, then you cannot recover anything from any other party for your injuries, even as little as 1% of the fault. The only states that allow contributory negligence as a defense to a negligence case is:
- North Carolina
- Washington D.C.
A Look at Cases of General Negligence
One defense that insurance companies like to use in personal injury cases is to demonstrate that the plaintiff partially shares responsibility for the wreck, slip, and fall, or other accident.
In Maryland, if you are even 1% at fault, you are totally denied from collecting compensatory damages of any sort. Most states, unlike Maryland, allow for shared comparative negligence. This is where you will still receive compensation even if you are proven to have been slightly negligent in the case.
For example, if you are found 20% negligent in a $1,000,000 decision, $800,000 will still be awarded to you.
In Maryland that won’t happen.
The Controversy of Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Law
The contributory negligence law in Maryland is very controversial. However, there does not seem to be any changes to its use in the near future. Even as other states modernize, in 2013 the Maryland Court of Appeals said that Contributory Negligence will remain the standard in Maryland for negligence cases unless the legislature takes up the issue. See Coleman v. Soccer Ass’n of Columbia, 432 Md. 679 (2013).
In the Court of Appeals, most judges appear content to let the state’s General Assembly determine the matter. However, it appears they also do not have any intentions to make any change.
As is, the Contributory Negligence has the general support of insurance companies and businesses, as it allows them to avoid payouts. Even when the slightest amount of negligence by the plaintiff can be proven.
It is believed that removing payouts in such cases keeps businesses’ insurance costs down.
A Look at Cases That Do Not Permit Contributory Negligence
There are some cases where initially contributory negligence appears to be applicable. However, when you examine closely you will see that these cases are not.
One example is when an at-fault party has the last clear chance to avoid an accident but fails to do so, then contributory negligence will not apply.
Another is not using a child seat or seat belt. This example is misdemeanor crimes in accordance with the Maryland Transportation Code. However, for personal injury cases, those are inadmissible to prove contributory negligence.
How can a car wreck lawyer help prevent me from being determined at all at fault?
Insurance companies will often try to contact you while you are immediately out of the hospital, on pain medication, and unable to think and recall clearly what happened surrounding your car wreck. This is not only unfair, but you could mistakenly say something that could later be used against you in court.
Having an attorney handle any statements to properly prepare you for the case is vital to the case’s outcome. In certain situations, accidents are inevitable—even if you have made all the right decisions. If you have been the victim of a car wreck and require representation, contact the ENLawyers today.