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What is contributory negligence in a collision?

If you and another driver collide on a Maryland roadway, the result may be that one or more people suffer injuries. In addition to physical trauma, a collision is emotionally traumatic as well and can cause financial distress to a recovering victim.

If your injuries are caused by another driver’s negligence, you may seek compensation for damages in a civil court. However, this state and a few others operate under contributory negligence rules, and it is important to understand what that means before filing a claim.

The other driver must be solely at fault

Most states have comparative negligence laws where the court determines culpability when both a plaintiff and defendant were partially responsible for a collision that resulted in injury.

In Maryland and several other states, however, if you’re a plaintiff in a personal injury case and are determined to have been partially responsible for a collision, you may not be able to recover damages if the defendant files a countersuit against you for contributory negligence.

In most states, a plaintiff who is found less responsible is still assigned blame, which usually results in his or her receiving a lesser amount of compensation for damages than he or she might have otherwise been entitled to if the defendant were 100% responsible for the collision in question.

The responsibility to act reasonably to protect your own safety

The contributory negligence law basically means that you are responsible for your own safety when driving or walking along a Maryland road. For this reason, if you were even slightly responsible for an accident that resulted in your own injuries, state law might bar you from seeking financial recovery or reduce the amount of recovery you may receive.

In states with contributory negligence laws, if you’re a plaintiff who is more than 1% responsible for the injuries that occurred as a result of a motor vehicle crash, you may be denied the opportunity to claim damages against anyone else deemed responsible in the collision.

Gather evidence and be able to prove that you are not culpable

It is important be able to show that you were in no way responsible for a collision that occurred that caused you physical, emotional or economic damages. When a person files a personal injury claim, he or she is tasked with proving that the other party or parties were negligent. In Maryland, it is critical that you also be able to prove that the defendant was the only party who was negligent.