Understanding Maryland’s “All or Nothing” Negligence Law
Every state in the country has its own unique way of deciding who should be held responsible for injuries. While there are certainly times when a single person or business is 100% to blame for an innocent victim’s injuries, there are many situations where the victim may share at least a little blame. This is known as contributory negligence (“comparative fault” in some jurisdictions).
At the Law Offices of Todd K. Mohink, P.A., we are committed to helping victims of injuries recover compensation. We understand that this is sometimes complicated by situations where the at-fault party tries to shift the blame to the victim. This happens more in places like Maryland than in most states. Here’s why.
Types of Comparative Fault Legislation
There are generally three different ways that states can deal with shared liability. These are:
- Pure Comparative Fault – In these states, a person can recover compensation no matter how much he or she may be to blame. However, the court will simply reduce their award by the share of liability found by the jury. So, in theory, a person who is 99% responsible for his own injuries could recover 1% of the damages awarded. In practice, this rarely happens.
- Modified Comparative Fault – A majority of states have chosen a balance between reducing compensation and allowing negligent people to be compensated. These states say that as long as you are less to blame, you can still recover, but your award will be reduced accordingly. States either set the threshold at 51% (the other parties must be at least 51% to blame) or they set the number at 50/50 (as long as your liability does not exceed everyone else’s).
- Pure Contributory Negligence – In these states, if the victim has any share of the liability, then he or she is barred from recovering at all. Maryland follows this draconian and unfair model. This means a drunk driver who is speeding and runs a red light could arguably not have to pay for your injuries if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt or if you perhaps were on the phone. Even though your share of the responsibility for your injuries may just be nominal at best, you can bet an insurance company will try to make the argument in order to avoid paying for the injuries.
Is the Current System Unfair?
There are certainly those (mostly insurance companies and defense attorneys) who feel it is fair to entirely penalize a victim for having even the slightly responsibility. However, the vast majority of states in America disagree. In fact, as an article in the Baltimore Sun explains, 46 other states have chosen a different model.
How an Attorney Can Help
By hiring a local and experienced attorney, you have someone on your side who understands what arguments work and what arguments don’t. An attorney can investigate the case, gather necessary evidence, and pursue justice through civil litigation, rather than just leaving the decision up to the insurance company. With decades of experience, you can count on Maryland attorney Todd K. Mohink to fight for you.
Call or visit us online today to set up a free consultation with an attorney. When it comes to auto accidents and other personal injuries, we never charge you for the consultation, and we don’t even take a fee unless we recover money for you.