Maryland maintains one of the strictest contributory negligence laws in the country, and accident victims should hire an attorney to help them through the claims process. The state’s contributory negligence framework provides that a plaintiff’s contributory negligence bars them from recovering damages. In other words, a plaintiff who possesses even 1% of the responsibility for the accident will not be able to recover. As such, regardless of how straightforward an accident may appear, determining definitive fault after a Maryland accident is critical to financial recovery.
While Maryland law presents significant challenges to injury victims, there are some exceptions to the harsh contributory negligence statute. The three primary exceptions involve the last clear chance doctrine, seat belts, and rear-end collisions. The “last clear chance” doctrine refers to situations when the other driver had the last clear opportunity to avoid the accident. In these cases, the driver with the last chance to avoid the accident will be liable for the damages. Further, many defendants try and purport the injury victim’s seat belt usage as evidence of contributory negligence. However, in Maryland, a defendant cannot avoid liability by solely pointing to a victim’s seatbelt usage as evidence. Finally, the law generally imputes liability on the back driver in a rear-end accident. While defense attorneys may present evidence to establish the front-drivers negligence, these defenses require a significant amount of evidence.
Overcoming contributory negligence defenses is exceedingly challenging in multi-vehicle accidents because the exact sequence of events can be convoluted. For instance, reporters recently described a harrowing series of Maryland accidents. According to police, a Mitsubishi driver slammed into a vehicle and fled the scene. While fleeing from the first incident, he slammed into a Metro bus and then fled again, striking a school bus and a sedan. Emergency responders transported the Metro bus and school bus drivers to a local hospital. The Mitsubishi driver remains in critical condition at a different hospital.