August 29, 2018 How Maryland Contributory Negligence Laws May Affect Your Case Contributory negligence is a term that the average Maryland resident has likely never heard of. However, once you’ve found yourself in the middle of a personal injury case, this term may become devastatingly familiar. Contributory negligence is a defense tool. In the event that the injured party contributed, in any capacity, to their own injuries, the defendant can use this law to prevent the injured from recovering compensation. If you or a loved one is facing a personal injury suit, it’s essential that you understand how this ruling could impact your case. Legal Definition of Negligence Before you can understand the concept of contributory negligence fully, you need to have a better understanding of what neglect is in the legal aspect. Each person is expected to operate with a duty of care — this is as true for the person driving their car down the highway as it is for the business owner mopping the floor of their building. This duty of care is a commitment to keep the safety of others at the forefront, and when a person, business, or other entity falls at this mission, they are perceived to be operating negligently. Negligence in Maryland All 50 states and the District of Columbia exercise some form of negligence laws, with comparative negligence being a common law. Comparative negligence means that if the injured victim is found partly responsible for their injuries, their compensation is adjusted based on the role they played. For instance, if the victim is 25% responsible, their award would be reduced by this amount. Maryland is one of only four states that practices pure contributory negligence. Under this guideline, an injured victim found at all responsible for their injuries is not entitled to any compensation — even if the plaintiff is just 1% at fault. Examples of Contributory Negligence You likely have a clearer idea what negligence is by this point — specifically the duty of care. However, contributory negligence means that other people aren’t the only ones who have to operate with a duty of care — you also have to adhere to these guidelines. When you don’t act in this way, you may be found contributorily negligent. Here are some examples of this type of behavior. Motor Vehicle Accident An injured victim who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of impact could be found partly negligent. In this instance, it’s easy to argue that, had they worn their seatbelt, their injuries may not have been as severe. Slip and Fall Injury A part of a duty of care on the part of the victim is the responsibility of being aware of their surroundings. If a business owner had a wet floor sign up, but the victim decided to run in the area anyway, they may be partly at fault for their injuries. Pedestrian Accident To continue with the theme of being aware of your surroundings, pedestrians are also required to obey traffic laws and patterns. If a victim is injured because they did not cross at the designated location, they may be found partially responsible for their injuries. As a victim, your injuries alone should serve as justification for compensation, but with contributory negligence, the matter gets complicated. Even more, large insurance companies and law firms can apply this law to protect their clients and leave you to deal with your injuries and pain and suffering on your own. When you’re facing this type of situation, you need a lawyer on your side to help you get the best compensation. The Jaklitsch Law Group is here to help. Contact us for more information and to schedule a consultation.