Maryland Personal Injury Law: Understanding the Concept of “Contributory Negligence”

Negligence is a legal term that means that one party was careless or failed to act in a way that a reasonable person would act in a similar situation. Negligence is also a concept used to determine fault in personal injury and other types of legal cases.

There are situations where one person is completely at fault for another person’s injuries. However, in some circumstances, both parties are at least partially at fault for the accident. The term, “contributory negligence” means that more than one party actually caused or was at fault for the accident, and one of those parties was the victim. In those situations, the law in Maryland impacts your recovery options if you sue the other party.

Contributory Negligence in Maryland

In Maryland, if you are considered even one percent at fault for your accident, then you will not have a sustainable personal injury claim. You cannot recover anything if you are considered at fault in any way. This harsh rule is in stark contrast to the law in the vast majority of the United States.

Other states have a “comparative negligence” rule, which apportions the percent of fault between the parties. The victim is then only awarded damages based on the percentage of the accident that was not his or her fault. Other states have further limited this rule so that a victim cannot receive damages if they were more at fault than the other party as well.

An Important Exception to the Rule

In some situations, your injuries are worse after a car accident because you did not wear your seatbelt during the accident. Some may argue that the failure to wear your seatbelt contributed to your injuries. However, Maryland Transportation Code provides that a failure to wear your seatbelt cannot be admitted to prove contributory negligence. The same rule applies to child restraints as well.

No End in Sight to Maryland’s Contributory Negligence Rule

Maryland’s rule is considered controversial, but there does not appear to be any changes on the horizon regarding this law. Numerous measures have been brought before the General Assembly to change the law, but none have passed. Maryland’s highest court also declined the invitation to change the rule in 2013.

If you have been involved in an accident, even if you think it may have been partially your fault, you can still receive a case evaluation to determine whether you have a valid case under Maryland law. Call The Tyra Law Firm to learn how we can help you pursue your personal injury claim and fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve.

Share this on...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Email this to someone

Written by The Tyra Law Firm

Our firm offers a number of legal services, including Family Law, Estate Planning,Elder Law/Medicaid Planning, and Personal Injury. In each of our practice areas, we are committed to paying close personal attention to every detail, and providing excellent client service.