Contributory negligence laws do not affect how you can calculate your damages. However, these laws affect whether a plaintiff has a right to receive compensation for their damages based on their role in how their injury occurred.
When bringing your case to a law firm for review, a representative will determine where your case stands regarding contributory negligence laws. If you decide to work with that law firm, then one aspect of building your personal injury case will involve calculating the damages you experienced as a result of your injury. This value may then be included in your demand letter for compensation from the opposing party, who may then decide whether they can use contributory negligence as a viable defense.
Contributory Negligence Affects Who Can Get Damages
The American Bar Association (ABA) cites the Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia as the recent example of why contributory negligence is still upheld in Maryland today. This case established contributory negligence as a viable defense for the defendant if they prove that the plaintiff partially caused the accident through their own negligence.
In Maryland, if a plaintiff is determined to be even one percent negligent in their accident, they will not be able to receive compensation for their damages. This makes it crucial for plaintiffs to provide enough evidence of how the accident occurred and the extent of their damages so that they can be cleared of any negligence.
Criticism of Contributory Negligence
The contributory negligence doctrine in Maryland has been criticized for being too lenient toward defendants. If they can prove any form of negligence on the plaintiff’s part, they may be absolved of liability and thus may not be held accountable for the damages they caused.
In the Maryland Law Review, professors Donald G. Gifford and Christopher J. Robinette argued that the doctrine should be abolished and switched to a comparative negligence rule, which would allow plaintiffs to recover compensation even if they were partially at fault. Most states uphold this doctrine, whereas Maryland remains one of four states to keep the contributory negligence doctrine established in 1847.
Contributory Negligence Raises the Stakes on Personal Injury Cases
Because of Maryland’s all-or-nothing approach to personal injury cases, plaintiffs have to understand the stakes they face when presenting their case. Hiring a personal injury lawyer may help them better prepare their case due to the lawyer’s access to certain resources. A lawyer can help investigate the accident to determine who caused it and who should be held liable for the damages.
Extending from that, a lawyer can also help you calculate your damages based on what they discover in their investigation and your personal account of the events that occurred afterward. They can collect evidence to prove the value of your damages and present this evidence to the insurance company or court on your behalf.
Know What Kind of Damages You May Be Able to Pursue
As mentioned, contributory negligence laws do not affect how you can calculate your damages. However, due to the unique circumstances of each individual’s accident, the damages you calculate must pertain to your situation and be supported by indisputable evidence.
You and your lawyer may discuss what kind of damages you might be entitled to receive, which may include:
- Medical expenses
- Costs related to property damage, such as repair costs or the total replacement value of damaged items
- Income lost due to your injuries or other accident-related reasons
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering and inconvenience, which can be interpreted as both physical and emotional
- Loss of quality of life
- Permanent disability, scarring, and disfigurement
This is not an exhaustive list, so your lawyer might suggest other compensable damages to pursue based on the laws that apply to your case.
Evidence of Your Damages
For every damage you list in your demand letter for compensation, you must provide evidence that they personally afflicted you and led to a form of loss. Your lawyer may help you collect evidence to prove these claims, which might include:
- Receipts, invoices, and bill papers
- Photos and video recordings
- Witness testimony
- Expert witness testimony, such as from a mechanic or doctor
- Proof of salary, such as a paycheck from a recent pay period
Evidence is unique to the kind of damage you experience, so you may be required to produce other forms of proof not listed here.
Let the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow Help You with Your Case
When you work with the team at the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow, we assess your case as thoroughly as possible so that we can accurately gauge how much damage you experienced during and after your accident. Our Edgewood personal injury team has handled a wide variety of cases, so we may be able to recognize compensable damages you may be entitled to claim. We also encourage communication between our clients and our team, so do not hesitate to update us on the personal obstacles you are facing. Should you decide to be our client, we will give you a unique texting number that you can use to reach us 24/7.
Want to learn more about what kind of legal services we give to our clients? Call the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow for a free consultation at (410) 877-6021. You can discuss your case with a representative at our firm and start setting up your client profile right away.