Watch Your Step

Contributory negligence in Maryland

Your mother might have slipped on wet pavement, or a neighbor suffered injury when his car was rear-ended. Every day accidents occur, and people are hurt. Personal injury law addresses mistakes made by some that injure others. But to receive fair compensation, you must first prove negligence.

Negligence is a legal term at the heart of any personal injury claim. Proving negligence means a defendant behaved in a way, or made decisions, that fell below a standard of care reasonably expected to keep others from harm. A speeding driver, a landlord who does not properly maintain pavements and walkways—these are examples of misconduct that causes injury through negligence, not by accident.

Along with Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, Maryland follows a rule of pure contributory negligence. With few exceptions in Maryland, contributory negligence means an injured person found to be even one percent at fault for their injury is barred from recovering financial compensation.

The legal question of shifting from contributory to comparative negligence has been argued before the Maryland legislature on several occasions.

Because of the strict nature of contributory negligence, a personal injury lawyer is critical to successfully pursuing fair compensation after an accident. Legal counsel must prove the defendant was at fault and their own client did not contribute to the accident. Meticulous investigation and persuasive argument—in settlement conferences, and in the courtroom—are required.

A serious accident is unforgiving—and so is contributory negligence. Always speak with good legal counsel if injured through no fault of your own.

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