You might be surprised at how harsh Maryland’s laws are when it comes to auto accident negligence. Our state handles legal negligence differently than most other states, leaving car accident victims with questions about what to do next.
Maryland’s antiquated auto tort laws can affect your ability to make a claim as an accident victim, but it’s still possible to receive compensation. Here’s how fault will be determined if you’re injured in a Maryland auto accident.
Contributory Negligence vs. Comparative Negligence
Maryland follows the law of contributory negligence, which means that if the other driver in a car accident can show that you were partially at fault for what happened, you can’t receive compensation. It’s up to you to prove you didn’t contribute to the accident in any way.
The law of contributory negligence presents a burdensome challenge for Maryland people who are injured in auto accidents. All the opposing side has to do is show you were 1% at fault for the accident, and you’ll receive nothing.
Outside of Maryland, 45 other states use a different rule known as comparative negligence. This means that after an accident, each party is assigned a proportion of the blame and can recover a proportional amount of compensation that matches their level of responsibility.
Let’s look at a comparison of the value of your claim under the two different rules. Under the comparative negligence rule, if you were 20% at fault and the court awards $200,000, your compensation would be reduced by 20%, or $40,000, and you would still receive the remaining $160,000. But under Maryland’s contributory fault rule, you would receive $0 because you contributed to the accident.
It sure doesn’t seem fair, does it? Maryland’s harsh and outdated take on negligence doesn’t align with the realities of modern auto accidents. Most crashes are complex and involve some amount of shared responsibility.
Don’t Worry, There are Exceptions to the Contributory Negligence Rule
Now that we’ve shared the bad news, let’s look at the good news. There are legal defenses and exceptions to Maryland’s contributory negligence rule that you can use with the help of a talented car accident attorney.
The Last Clear Chance Doctrine
If you and your lawyer can prove the other driver had a “last clear chance” to avoid the crash but didn’t, they can be held responsible for the accident and you can receive compensation.
The Seat Belt Exception
Finally, we should mention that simply not wearing your seat belt can’t be used as evidence of contributory negligence in Maryland. This means if you did nothing else wrong in the accident, the other side can’t use your failure to wear a seat belt alone as an excuse to avoid responsibility.
Being Blamed for Your Accident? Here’s How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
As you can see from the issues described above, it’s difficult but possible to prove that you deserve payment for your injuries and other damages after a crash. Your attorney’s experience with Maryland auto accident cases could impact your ability to receive compensation, so choose your attorney wisely!
At Zirkin & Schmerling Law, we have many decades of combined experience with complex car accident cases including those involving contributory negligence. If you need to prove who’s at fault after a crash, we’re here to help you do it.
Have a Legal Question About an Auto Accident? We Have Answers
When you need to learn more about your rights, the attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law can help. Contact us or call us at 410-753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our experienced car accident lawyers today.