Maryland is one of only four states that has a rule called “contributory negligence.” This rule can make it difficult for individuals to collect money for damages caused by another driver during an automobile accident. How does contributory negligence apply to you?
Contributory Vs. Comparative Negligence
Contributory negligence means that if you contributed to your accident in any way, you have no right to claim damages from the other driver, even if that driver was the primary cause of the accident. Theoretically, if you contributed just one percent compared to the other driver being 99 percent at fault, the law says you have no right to try to recover damages from the other driver.
Conversely, the majority of states use a rule known as comparative negligence. This rule compares the two drivers, out-lining fault using percentages. The one who is more at fault pays the driver who was less to blame, and the driver with less liability pays a reduced claim based on their percentage of fault. For example, if Driver 1 is 90 percent at fault and Driver 2 is 10 percent responsible, Driver 2 can receive compensation from Driver 1, but only 90 percent of the full compensation.
Why it Matters?
Every auto accident is different and the causes of a collision are not always apparent. For example, consider if you had an accident with a semi-truck. It may appear that you are partially to blame. However, a closer examination may reveal the truck driver was not driving appropriately for the weather or traffic conditions. There could be mechanical defects or maybe the truck was improperly maintained. It’s possible the truck’s brakes were not working properly. The driver might not be licensed for the type of truck he was driving. Or, the truck could have been overloaded. Many variables are at play that may not be obvious at the time of the accident. Getting to the bottom of the causes of the collision can drastically affect the financial burden placed on you because of your accident. Many times, if you are held responsible for even just one percent of the accident, the other driver’s insurance company will refuse to pay any damages.
Maryland’s contributory negligence rule makes it all the more important to speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It’s important to have an advocate on your side that will investigate the case thoroughly and fight for you. The contributory negligence rule does not mean you can not recover compensation for damages. John Critzos, II is an advocate for victims of car and truck accidents in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Contact us for a free consultation.
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