All types of personal injury cases are subject to contributory negligence laws, though contributory negligence may not be a viable argument in every situation, depending on certain factors. Before working with a personal injury lawyer, you can ask one of their team representatives how contributory negligence might affect your case.
Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Doctrines Apply to All Personal Injury Cases
Maryland is one of four states that abides by the contributory negligence tort rule, which mandates that plaintiffs who contribute any percentage of fault to an accident are prohibited from collecting damages. This doctrine may be applied toward any type of personal injury case, including:
- Premises liability cases, or cases where an injury occurred on someone else’s property (including government property)
- Motor vehicle accident cases, which can also include accident cases involving pedestrians and bicyclists
- Nursing home abuse and neglect cases
- Medical malpractice cases
- Maritime accident cases, which includes accidents that occur on or because of commercial, residential, or federal water vessels
- Construction accident cases
Contributory negligence can also be used as an argument in defective product cases, though strict product liability laws might make this challenging for the defending party to prove.
Contributory Negligence Might Not Be as Strong of an Argument in Certain Cases
For the most part, contributory negligence generally applies to all types of personal injury cases, though attorneys may be able to find exceptions to weaken this argument from the defense.
Strict Product Liability
While the contributory negligence rule may still apply to personal injury cases involving defective products or drugs, Maryland still puts more responsibility on the product manufacturer to keep consumers safe from harm. If there was a defect in the product’s design, make, or marketing, contributory negligence may not be as viable of an argument due to strict liability rules.
Unless the consumer grossly misused the product with full intent or the understanding that they were using the product incorrectly, contributory negligence cannot be used as a defense against consumers who were harmed while using a product sold to them.
Cases Involving Minors
According to the American Bar Association (ABA), an exception to the contributory negligence rule applies to personal injury cases involving children younger than age 5.
discusses the reasoning behind this exception, noting that children younger than age 5 do not have the level of understanding about the dangers around them and, therefore, are incapable of contributing to their injuries. As quoted in their article, “The Court recognizes that a child is required to exercise only that degree of care which a reasonably careful child of the same age and intelligence would exercise under similar circumstances.”
For cases involving older children who are still minors, the child’s intelligence and maturity levels may be compared with children of a similar age to determine whether they were negligent in their accident. However, children are not held to the same standard as an adult. If the child would not reasonably have prior knowledge about a risk like an adult would, they would not be considered contributory negligent.
The ‘Last Clear Chance’ Rule
One final defense against contributory negligence follows the “last clear chance” rule, which is a defense created by judges to help plaintiffs still collect damages for their injuries and losses. This rule works under the principle that, despite the plaintiff’s actions, the last opportunity to prevent an accident from occurring is in the opposing party’s hands. Had the opposing party practiced more care, the plaintiff would not have been injured.
The Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow Wants to Work on Your Personal Injury Case
If you have more questions about contributory negligence and whether it might affect your case, call the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow for a free consultation at (410) 877-6021. A team member from our law firm can discuss with you in more detail what types of personal injury cases are subject to contributory negligence laws and how this doctrine may affect your pursuit of compensation.
At the Law Offices of Adam M. Smallow, we fight for our clients’ right to receive compensation for their injuries and losses. We know how difficult it can be trying to return to your life after being severely injured or even permanently disabled, which is why we want to help you fight against any attempts at placing partial blame on you by the at-fault party.
Call our law firm serving the Edgewood, Maryland, area to have a personal injury lawyer work on your case. We provide 24-7 text communication to our clients and can even refer you to a medical care provider if necessary.