The Doctrine of Contributory Negligence adversely affects many personal injury plaintiffs in the State of Maryland. Basically, if a victim is found to share in the responsibility for an accident, the victim is completely bared from recovery. This doctrine, only found in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Washington, D.C. frustrates many deserving injury victims and their lawyers.
In most states, recovery or compensation is based upon the Doctrine of Comparative Negligence. Comparative negligence, a much fairer standard, comes into play when it is contended that two or more parties failed to act in a reasonable standard of care. For example, suppose one person was driving too fast and hit a car that that failed to stop completely at a stop sign. In this situation-where each party has some degree of negligence in causing an accident-the responsibility to the other person(s) is reduced by the others’ degree of negligence.
For example, suppose a jury decides that the driver going too fast was 10% responsible for the accident, while the driver who blew through the stop sign was 90% responsible. If the driver who was driving too fast is awarded $10,000, his recovery would be reduced to $1,000 because of his 10% contributory negligence.
If this accident case were decided in a contributary negligence jurisdiction such as Maryland, the driver who was found to have contributed to the accident by 10% would be 100% barred from any recovery. This can be unfortunate in situations where a plaintiff is severely injured or paralyzed, and can not make any recovery.
Most people do not think about this concept very often until it affects them personally. So if you are driving in Maryland, have an accident-watch out! The opposing insurance company may try to tag you with 1% of the blame to prevent compensating you a nickel. Immediately get yourself an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer to protect you. Otherwise you may be left with mounting medical bills, ruined credit, and no where to turn.