Baltimore Auto Injury News: Are Maryland’s Liability Rules Too Far Behind the Times?

It’s been asked numerous times for years now, that is, should our states laws concerning liability in the case of accidents involving personal injury and property damage be update, scrapped or overhauled? As Maryland auto and trucking accident attorneys, I and my legal staff are well aware of the rules, regulations and statutes that affect various aspects of personal injury law. One area of Maryland’s liability rules involves the term “contributory fault,” which in many instances in the past has thwarted victims from obtaining their due compensation following an injury accident.

Whether one is hurt in Baltimore, Gaithersburg, Washington, D.C., or Rockville, being laid up in a hospital bed can be a traumatic event. Losing one’s life is far worse, of course, but being injured to the extent that one requires tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of medical treatment and possible rehabilitation and physical therapy can inflict a financial hardship that most families these days would find hard to pay for.

Being seriously hurt in a motorcycle wreck, by a dangerous product, through a drugstore’s or pharmacist’s negligence, even a medical error at a nursing home, can all result in some painful and long-term physical consequences. It may seem insurmountable at times, especially right after a bad injury accident, yet it’s very important to remember that we all have rights under the law and because of this anyone who is injured or seriously hurt through the negligence of another individual should contact a qualified personal injury lawyer.

As we tell all of our potential clients, one may have cause to file a personal injury claim against another individual if that person caused the injury through intentional or careless. People in this state have, for some time now, had to fight both the person who caused the negligent action that resulted in his or her bodily injury as well as the laws that govern persona injury actions in general.

According to news articles, more than a few Maryland residents have lost their opportunity to recoup costs for their medical treatment, hospital or rehab fees, and other healthcare-related costs attached to a particular auto accident which occurred through no fault of their own. As a personal injury, I know that a personal injury lawsuit may be warranted following a car accident, motorcycle wreck, commercial trucking collision, or wrongful death as a result of any one of these.

When an individual is found to be legally responsible for another individual’s injury, that defendant can be ordered to pay compensatory damages to the injured person. This type of damage payment is meant to help the injured party to recover from his or her injuries as soon as possible. But news articles have discussed the fact that Maryland juries are not allowed to award victims damages from the defendant in a personal injury suit if the accident was caused in part by the victim himself. The question is whether or not this is fair.

A common example for this kind of inequity in the law has come in the form of lawsuits where utility companies were involved. In many of the cases against utilities, it’s been reported, the system known as comparative fault has been at issue, and often contested by these large companies. In many cases, not the least of which have followed the severe weather experienced in our state over the past few years, when overhead electrical wires were blown down — often because of poorly maintained poles and other equipment — a motorist or pedestrian could have been injured or killed through electrocution. While one could likely prove that much of the fault was on the utility’s part, if the defense could prove that the plaintiff was also to blame, even in a small way, for his or her injuries than under current law the court would award no relief to the injured party.

But this may not be the case in the future, since Maryland’s Court of Appeals will likely be deciding if the state should adopt a different system for deciding whether accident victims who are partially at fault for their injuries may be able to recover at least a portion of the damages from the negligent party. While most people would likely agree that victims should be able to collect reduced damages in such cases, the state’s current contributory fault system has made this impossible, because of which it has been labeled an unfair and antiquated system.

Over the past 50 years or so, almost every state in the Union has modified its contributory negligence rules by adopting a system of comparative fault. This aspect of personal injury law may reduce a plaintiff’s award, but at least it not completely, when the victim is partially responsible for his or her own injuries. Time will tell if this change makes it through Maryland’s judicial system. But if other states are any indication, a system of contributory negligence would bring some equity to many personal injury cases.

Maryland should scrap its antiquated liability rules,, September 24, 2012

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