Negligence, or carelessness or recklessness that leads to injury and damages, is the basis of personal injury law. To win a personal injury lawsuit, a plaintiff must show that his injuries were the result of the defendant’s negligent behavior. However, under Maryland law, the plaintiff’s role in his own accident could negate his right to claim financial compensation. This legal principle is known as contributory negligence. Read on to find out more about this principle and how it may affect your case.
An accident that leads to injury cannot always be completely attributed to one party; instead, both the defendant and the plaintiff may have played a role in what took place. If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff played any role in his own injury, the plaintiff will be denied all compensation for his injury. The defendant in a lawsuit will often rely on contributory negligence as a defense tactic, knowing that he only has to show that the plaintiff possessed some small degree of responsibility for the accident. For example, if a drunk driver gets into an accident, he may not be liable for the other driver’s injuries if the other driver was speeding and thus contributed to the accident. Contributory negligence would remove his obligation to pay any damages to the plaintiff.
“Last Clear Chance” Doctrine
Maryland recognizes an exception to contributory negligence in the form of the “last clear chance” doctrine. This means that, even if both parties bear some responsibility for an accident, the plaintiff may still be liable for damages if he had a final, overriding chance to stop the accident but still allowed the accident to happen through negligence.
Contributory negligence is a complex principle that makes it difficult for plaintiffs to claim damages due to them without the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. To discuss your case and evaluate your legal options in the Silver Spring area, schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer at Sussman & Simcox by calling (301) 840-0404.