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Understanding Maryland’s contributory negligence rule

On Behalf of | Jan 27, 2023 | Personal Injury

In most car crashes, one driver is typically more at fault than the other. Some are a clear-cut case of someone being responsible – for example, running a stop light and crashing into a vehicle that had the right of way.

In many crashes, however, more than one driver has some fault. For example, maybe a driver stopped abruptly for no reason and the driver behind them was driving too fast to avoid rear-ending them. There’s some fault by both parties.

Each state has different car accident compensation laws. Many states have compensation laws that follow what’s called a “comparative negligence” rule. That means each person’s financial liability is determined by their level of fault for the crash. Say, for example, you’re found to have 25% of the responsibility for the crash and the other person to have 75%. If you’re awarded $10,000 in damages, you could only collect $7,500 from the other driver and/or their insurer. Other states have modified versions of this rule.

If you contributed even 1% to a crash, the other driver doesn’t have to compensate you

Maryland law, however, is less favorable to drivers who may have a small amount of fault in a crash. Our state follows the “contributory negligence” rule. That means if you’re even 1% to blame for a crash, you aren’t entitled to any compensation for economic or non-economic damages from the other driver. It should be noted that while only a handful of states follow this rule, our neighbors in Virginia and North Carolina as well as Washington, D.C. also follow it.

If you have personal injury protection (PIP) in your car insurance coverage, you can get some compensation through your own insurance. However, if you want to get compensation from the driver responsible for your crash, you’ll need to show that you didn’t contribute in any way at all to the crash. That’s just one reason why it’s important to have experienced legal guidance to help you make that case and maximize the compensation you receive for expenses and damages.