What Is Contributory Negligence in Personal Injury Cases?

contributory negligence

Maryland is one of just five jurisdictions across the United States that relies on contributory negligence instead of comparative negligence in personal injury and car accident cases. This can make it more complicated to receive the compensation that you deserve after an accident, but it does not mean that it is impossible. What is contributory negligence in personal injury cases?

What Is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence is an alternative to comparative negligence, and it can stop you from recovering damages if you are found to be even minimally at fault for the accident that caused your injuries. This rule is much stricter than other negligence doctrines, such as comparative negligence, which allow for a proportional allocation of fault and damages. Under contributory negligence, personal injury cases can be completely negated if the plaintiff is found to share any responsibility for the incident. Virginia and Washington, D.C. are two other places that use contributory negligence instead of comparative negligence.

How Does Contributory Negligence Work?

In a personal injury case, you have to prove that the other party’s negligence directly caused your injuries. However, in a contributory negligence state like Maryland, if the defendant can demonstrate that your negligence contributed in any way to the injury, you are barred from recovering damages. This means that even if you are found to be just 1% at fault, you cannot recover any compensation from the defendant. Working with an attorney is critical to protect yourself and ensure that you are not wrongly seen as responsible.

What Does Contributory Negligence Look Like in Practice?

For example, think about a car accident. A driver is hurt in a car accident that is the result of the other driver not stopping at a red light. However, if the hurt driver was speeding at the time of the accident, that could be considered a contributing factor and make them partially responsible for the accident, even though they aren’t the ones who ran the red light.

Another example of personal injury cases that are impacted by contributory negligence could be a slip and fall case. A person slipped and fell in a grocery store because the floor was wet and there was no wet floor sign. However, the person was also looking at their phone and not paying attention to where they were going. Even though the store has a responsibility to keep the floor safe and dry, the lack of attention the victim paid could stop them from recovering damages.

Is There Hope?

Even though contributory negligence can make personal injury cases harder, they are not impossible. How can you still present a compelling case?

  • Collecting Evidence: Gather evidence that clearly shows the defendant’s fault and minimizes or eliminates any indication of your contribution to the accident. This includes photographs, video footage, and witness statements.
  • Expert Testimony: Expert witnesses can help provide testimony that supports your case and refutes any claims of contributory negligence.
  • Detailed Documentation: Keep detailed records of what happened surrounding the accident, including documents like medical reports, accident reports, and any communication with the defendant or their insurance company.
  • Work with an Attorney: Always work with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the intricacies of Maryland’s contributory negligence rule. We can help develop a strong case strategy, present evidence, and advocate on your behalf every step of the way.

Partner with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney at The Law Office of Elizabeth Anu Lawrence

If you or a loved one are concerned about finding the right personal injury or car accident lawyer for your case, choose an experienced firm like the Law Office of Elizabeth Anu Lawrence to give you the help you need. Please give us a call at 443.352.3201. Skype and telephone consultation are both available to clients.

Contact Us

    Law Office of Elizabeth Anu Lawrence, LLC.
  • Address: 90 Painters Mill Road Suite 201 Owings Mills, Maryland 21117
  • Phone: (443) 352-3201

  • Email: info@elawrencelaw.com

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