How Negligence Impacts Maryland Personal Injury Cases

When someone is injured due to the negligence of another person or entity, they may have a personal injury case. In Maryland, negligence can have a significant impact on the outcome of a personal injury case. Understanding what negligence means and how it impacts a case can be crucial for anyone pursuing legal action for their injuries.

What is Negligence?

Negligence is a legal term that refers to a failure to exercise reasonable care that results in harm to another person or entity. In personal injury cases, negligence means that the defendant had a duty to exercise care and failed to do so, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.

In order to prove negligence, the plaintiff must establish four elements:

  • The defendant owed them a duty of care.
  • The defendant breached that duty of care.
  • The plaintiff suffered harm as a result of that breach.
  • The harm suffered was a foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s breach.

Contributory Negligence

Maryland is one of only a few states that follows a contributory negligence system. This means that if the plaintiff is found to have contributed in any way to their own injuries, they will be barred from recovering damages from the defendant.

In other words, if the defendant can show that the plaintiff was even 1% at fault for their own injuries, the plaintiff will not be able to recover any damages. This strict contributory negligence standard can make it more challenging for plaintiffs to recover damages in Maryland personal injury cases.

Comparative Negligence

Some states follow a comparative negligence system, which allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if they were partially at fault for their own injuries. In these states, the damages awarded are reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to the plaintiff.

For example, if a plaintiff is found to be 20% at fault for their own injuries and the damages awarded are $100,000, the plaintiff would receive $80,000 (the damages minus their percentage of fault).

Maryland does not follow a comparative negligence system, making it even more important for plaintiffs in personal injury cases to establish that the defendant was entirely at fault for their injuries.

Impact on Damages

In Maryland, the damages awarded in a personal injury case can be impacted by the plaintiff’s contributory negligence. If the defendant can prove that the plaintiff was partially at fault for their own injuries, the damages awarded will be reduced to zero.

For example, if a plaintiff is awarded $100,000 in damages for their injuries but the defendant can show that the plaintiff was 10% at fault, the damages will be reduced to zero, and the plaintiff will not recover anything.

Importance of Legal Representation

Because of Maryland’s strict contributory negligence system, it is essential for plaintiffs in personal injury cases to work with experienced attorneys who understand how to navigate this legal landscape. An attorney can help a plaintiff build a strong case and establish that the defendant was entirely at fault for their injuries.

Additionally, an attorney can negotiate with insurance companies on behalf of the plaintiff to ensure that they receive fair compensation for their injuries. In personal injury cases, insurance companies often try to settle for as little as possible, and an attorney can help ensure that the plaintiff is not taken advantage of.

Conclusion

Negligence can have a significant impact on Maryland personal injury cases. The state’s strict contributory negligence system means that plaintiffs must establish that the defendant was entirely at fault for their injuries in order to recover damages. An experienced attorney can help a plaintiff navigate this legal landscape and ensure that they receive fair compensation for their injuries.

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