Baltimore auto accident attorney

How Does Comparative Negligence Work in Maryland Car Accidents?

If another driver acted negligently and hurt you, that’s all that will matter during your car accident lawsuit, right? Not necessarily. If you also acted negligently, you could go uncompensated.

Comparative negligence rules let victims recover damages even if they share fault for a motor vehicle accident. Contributory negligence rules, which apply to claims in Maryland, bar victims from recovery if they share fault for their injuries. This means that, even if the defendant was mostly to blame for a collision, you could be blocked from compensation. To protect your claim against a contributory negligence defense, our attorneys will gather evidence indicating the defendant alone is liable for your damages and injuries. To do this, we may interview eyewitnesses, obtain surveillance footage, and review police reports in addition to other information.

Call Rice, Murtha & Psoras now at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free case review with our Maryland car accident attorneys today.

How Does Comparative Negligence Factor into Car Accident Cases in Maryland?

Maryland is not a comparative negligence state. Instead, it is a pure contributory negligence state. This is an important distinction to make since contributory negligence rules .

In Maryland, any victim who contributes to a car accident in any way will get blocked from recovering compensation entirely. This is a serious problem for some victims, as auto accidents are complicated. Depending on the number of vehicles involved, when you called the police, and what you said in the accident’s aftermath, the opposing side in your lawsuit might have room to argue that you contributed to the crash.

Because victims who are even 1% responsible for car accidents are blocked from filing lawsuits and recovering damages, defendants in Maryland often look for indications that a victim is partially liable to get our of paying injury claims. Do not assume that the other driver being at fault is enough to win your case.

Protecting Your Car Accident Case Against Contributory Negligence in Maryland

Because any percentage of fault could bar a victim from claiming the damages they deserve, it is important to carefully review your actions following the crash and the defendant’s. Our Aberdeen car accident attorneys can also compare the levels of fault of other involved parties to clarify whether or not several parties share liability for your damages.

Be honest about what happened from the start. Speak to law enforcement officers when they arrive. If you can’t do this because of your injuries, go to the hospital with first responders. If police officers need additional information for the crash report, they can contact you.

Do not speak to the negligent driver outside of exchanging insurance information them. Discussing the accident in detail is not wise. If you misspeak and contradict yourself in the future, you could hurt your claim.

If the last clear chance rule applies to your case, you might recover compensation if you share fault. Essentially, if both parties acted negligently, but the defendant had the last opportunity to avoid the accident and failed to do so, the victim might recover damages.

When building evidence for your lawsuit, our attorneys might use an accident reconstruction expert, especially if the defendant plans to use a contributory negligence defense in court. Accident reconstruction experts can piece together what happened by reviewing the fallout of a crash. Based on their findings, such an expert may be able to rule out certain assertions regarding your negligent actions, helping to show the jury that the defendant is the only liable party.

We will also consider all parties involved in the accident to allocate fault properly. For example, suppose a commercial truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and drifted into your lane, hitting you in the process. If the commercial trucking company forced the driver to work overtime, leading to them falling asleep while driving, the trucking company might share liability for your injuries and damages.

What Constitutes Contributory Negligence in Maryland Car Accident Claims?

Since Maryland is so strict when it comes to assessing comparative fault in auto accident cases, all drivers should be on high alert whenever they operate their vehicles. Even the simplest mistake could contribute to an accident and ultimately bar a victim from recovery.

For example, suppose you were driving down the street at the speed limit, looked down at your phone for a moment, and got bit by a driver who tried to merge into your lane recklessly. Because you were distracted, the jury in your case might decide that you could have avoided the crash, barring you from recovery.

Contributory negligence rules might sometimes impact drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and even passengers. For example, jaywalking can be viewed as contributory negligence in some cases.

All of that said, certain acts, though irresponsible, aren’t considered contributory negligence. For example, under Md. Code, Transp. Art., § 22-412.3(h), a victim’s failure to wear a seat belt is not evidence of negligence or contributory negligence and may not limit another party’s liability.

Furthermore, even if a victim acted negligently, it might not matter, depending on the defendant’s actions. For example, suppose you were driving at the speed limit but close to the car in front of you. Then, suppose the driver in front slammed on their brakes to startle you and make you fall back, but you rear-ended them because you could not stop in time. Even though you were tailgating the driver, their brake checking was reckless and caused the accident.

Because Maryland’s contributory negligence rules are so strict, closely following traffic laws is of the utmost for all drivers, as minor mistakes could contribute to an accident.

Call Our Maryland Lawyers About Your Case Today

Call the Ocean City, MD car accident attorneys of Rice, Murtha & Psoras at (410) 694-7291 to discuss your case for free today.