If you were injured in Maryland, contributory negligence laws can affect your personal injury case if you decide to file a claim or lawsuit to pursue compensation. While many states abide by a comparative negligence rule that allows plaintiffs to collect compensation even if they were partially at fault for the accident that injured them, Maryland is one of four states that strictly follows a contributory negligence doctrine.
This doctrine prevents plaintiffs from collecting compensation if they have any percentage of fault in their accident—even one percent. In other words, the plaintiff must prove that they were 100 percent not at fault for the accident and that the defendant’s negligence was the cause of their injury.
Maryland Upholds the Contributory Negligence Doctrine
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), Maryland—along with Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and the District of Columbia—abides by the common law tort rule of contributory negligence. This is a high standard for plaintiffs to fulfill in order to win compensation in their personal injury cases.
If you intend on filing a personal injury lawsuit for an accident where the defendant has grounds to claim your negligence was a partial cause, you may face a contributory negligence argument. A personal injury lawyer who understands Maryland’s contributory negligence system can defend you in this situation.
The Other Party Might Claim Contributory Negligence
If the defendant claims contributory negligence, they might use one of the following points to structure their argument:
You Had an “Assumption of Risk”
In George Poole v. Coakley & Williams Construction, Inc., it was established that a defendant could argue that the plaintiff had an “assumption of risk,” in that the plaintiff already knew about the dangers involved in an activity or hazard and still chose to engage. However, the defendant must provide undisputed evidence that the plaintiff either had prior experience with the hazard or that the risk was blatantly obvious in its danger.
For example, an assumed risk defense may be used by the operator of a fitness center against a member who hurt themselves exercising there.
You Also Contributed to the Cause of the Accident
Even if the plaintiff had no assumption of risk, the defendant might still claim that the plaintiff’s actions or inactions contributed to the cause of the accident.
For example, if you were in a grocery store checking your phone to see what items you needed to buy when you suddenly slipped on a spilled liquid, the grocery store might claim your distraction as contributory negligence. Or, if you were speeding and got into a car accident because another driver failed to yield the right of way to you, the defendant might claim that you were partially at fault for the accident.
With any contributory negligence claim, the defendant must provide evidence of how the plaintiff’s negligence contributed to the accident in order to avoid liability.
Your lawyer can advise you on the personal injury laws that affect your case and help you determine whether a contributory negligence argument might affect you.
The Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow Wants to Help You with Your Case
If you were injured in Maryland, contributory negligence laws might affect you and your ability to receive compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. In any state that abides by this doctrine, it is important to prepare your case well enough to defend any claims that you were partially at fault for the accident that injured you. A personal injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow can help you shape your case as well as any defense arguments you may need to make should the defendant try to claim contributory negligence.
Our law firm works hard to fight for the compensation our clients need, especially since the stakes are high in Maryland personal injury cases. We understand that even one percent of fault can deprive a plaintiff of collecting compensation for their damages, so we aim to collect as much evidence as we can to prove that our clients were the innocent victims of someone else’s negligence.
Call the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow at (410) 877-6021 for a free case evaluation. Our team is standing by to discuss your accident and your legal options. We can also help you by recommending highly qualified medical providers that our staff and families would receive treatment from.
The Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow prioritizes client communication. If you decide to hire us, in addition to being accessible via email and phone, we will provide you with a dedicated text number for 24/7 text message access to our staff.