When someone is injured in an auto collision, slip and fall, or other accident, it is often the case that more than one party is to blame. Numerous factors and underlying causes contribute to these incidents, leading to a chain reaction of liability. However, if the victim is one of the parties who had a hand in causing the incident, Maryland applies the very harsh rule known as pure contributory negligence. The consequences of this law are so severe that only four other US states and DC follow it, yet contributory negligence remains in effect even after a legal challenge in 2013.
In short, the rule bars compensation for a victim who was responsible for causing his or her own injuries. There may be strategies for overcoming the sting of contributory negligence, so it is wise to trust an Owings Mills personal injury attorney to advocate on your behalf as a victim. Because of the ramifications, you should be aware of how Maryland’s contributory negligence law works.
Severe Consequences for Negligent Acts
If you were responsible for causing the accident that led to your injuries, the pure contributory negligence rule bars you from recovering any monetary damages for your losses. Even when the role you played was minimal, the law acts as a defense for any person or entity you might want to pursue for compensation. All an at-fault party has to do is prove that you did not exercise reasonable care when acting, and that your breach of duty contributed to the accident.
Most other US states follow a modified contributory negligence or comparative negligence rule. The details vary, but the consequences for injured victims are not so harsh. In other jurisdictions, damages are reduced by the proportion of fault attributable to the victim’s negligent actions.
Examples of Contributory Negligence
To better understand how Maryland’s rule works, some scenarios may be useful. Contributory negligence would bar compensation when:
- The victim was speeding when struck by a driver who ran through a stop sign.
- A person was hurt because of a broken staircase at a shopping center. However, he or she was sliding down the bannister at the time.
- An amusement park visitor was injured on a thrill ride that malfunctioned due to the park’s failure to conduct proper maintenance. The victim cannot recover monetary damages if he or she failed to properly secure a safety belt.
Overcoming Harsh Ramifications of Contributory Negligence
The most effective way to counter arguments of contributory negligence is a concept known as the “last clear chance.” Under this doctrine, defendants may still be liable if they have the last opportunity to stop the factors in motion that caused the accident.
Contact a Baltimore County, MD Personal Injury Lawyer to Learn More
It is not always possible to avoid the harsh implications of Maryland’s contributory negligence law, but there may be options to protect your interests. To learn more, please contact attorney Michael A. Freedman today. We can set up an initial consultation to discuss your case to review your situation and legal remedies.