Alert! In the State of Maryland, it is Illegal to:
- Take a lion to the movies.
- Swear while on the highway.
- Sell chicks or ducklings to a minor within 1 week of the Easter holiday.
- Throw bales of hay from a second-story window within the city limits.
Sounds crazy, right? Well, the truth is, laws are constantly evolving to keep pace with the evolving social, economic, and political structure of our communities. If you look through history books, you would find reference to old state laws, like those above, that would seem outrageous in modern society. In the 1800’s the crime of horse theft brought severe penalties in almost every western state. Now, it is treated as most other property crimes, and the penalties are far less drastic.
Part of society’s changing attitude stems from our modern system of insurance across the United States, which allows a person to soften the potential impact of the loss of a valuable item of property by insuring it. If it is stolen, vandalized, or destroyed, the victim receives compensation under a contract of insurance. As the loss to the victim has been reduced, so has society’s need to harshly punish the wrongdoer, and the laws have reflected this change over time.
What Gaithersburg laws do we still live with today that might astound future generations as harsh or nonsensical? Many Marylanders believe “ Contributory Negligence ” is a prime example. Contributory negligence is a concept applied daily by the Gaithersburg courts in injury cases. If you bring a lawsuit for injuries against another party, under Gaithersburg law, you must be free of any negligence yourself, no matter how slight, or your whole claim is barred and you are denied recovery against the other party. In mathematical terms, if the other party was 99% responsible for your injuries, and your own negligence amounted to but 1%, your claim would still be barred under the principals of contributory negligence.
Contributory negligence has been called “an insurance carrier’s dream” in that it provides the carrier a means to avoid any payment on an injury claim. When successfully raised in court, it means an outright loss for a victim, even where the other side was overwhelmingly negligent. The victim is then personally responsible for 100% of the medical bills and lost wages, while perhaps being only 1% responsible for an accident.
So what do you think? Does contributory negligence sound fair or is it just “an insurance carrier’s dream.” Let us know, then check back on Tuesday for Part Two of this article. We’ll take a look at what contributory negligence means for victims today—and answer any questions you have about how contributory negligence can affect your personal injury lawsuit.