Maryland is one of five states, along with Virginia, Washington D.C, Alabama and North Carolina, to use contributory negligence.
Most other states employ comparative negligence, which states that in cases where the victim’s negligence caused the accident they were in, an amount corresponding to the degree of their negligence will be decreased from the overall damages they will collect. For example, if a person was found to be 10% responsible for their accident, 10% will be taken off their settlement.
On the other hand, contributory negligence states that if the victim is found to be partially responsible for as little as 1% of the accident, they will be prohibited from collecting any of the damages they may be entitled to.
In personal injury claims in Maryland, such as car accidents, pedestrian accidents and slip and falls, the neglect of the victim, which is their failure to operate a certain duty of care, is taken into consideration. Examples of this include victims of a car accident exceeding the speed limit of a road before being struck, individuals getting hit by a car after not crossing at the right times and people running next to wet floor signs.
The law of contributory negligence in Maryland may forbid victims of such accidents from collecting many damages including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, punitive damages and pain, and suffering.
The medical expenses of the injuries the victim suffered in Maryland include everything from X-rays to surgery to any ongoing physical therapy for recurring pain as a result of the injury.
Lost wages are the salaries of all the days of work the victim missed and may be expected to miss because of their injury.
The costs of repairing the vehicle damaged in the accident are considered property damage in auto accident cases.
Punitive damages are damages intended to punish the at-fault individual if their actions were deemed too reckless and were considered to have caused the accident.
Pain and suffering refer to the physical pain, emotional distress and mental anguish suffered by the victim as a result of the accident. Pain and suffering include the inability to perform daily tasks or physical exercise as a result of the accident, the time the victim spent away from their family and the time spent traveling in order to treat their injuries along with the long-term effect the injury will have on their ability to perform activities such as their job.
Establishing fault in a personal injury claim is an extremely important and long process. The victim and their attorney must collect evidence, speak to eyewitnesses and obtain police and medical reports. The evidence that may be provided includes skid marks and debris in the accident scene if it is an auto accident and footage from CCTV cameras or mobile phones.
Furthermore, a notable exception of the contributory negligence is the failure to use the child seat in a car.
Contributory negligence has generally been considered to be one of the harshest and most unfair laws in Maryland and some judges predict for it to be removed in the near future