As this blog has discussed in the past, Maryland law continues to employ a very strict framework in determining which accident victims can recover for their injuries. Under Maryland’s contributory negligence doctrine, only those accident victims who are truly free of all fault will be able to successfully pursue a claim against other at-fault drivers.
This doctrine has repeatedly been called into question, and lawmakers have submitted bills 21 times over the past few decades in an attempt to bring the state’s law more in line with the rest of the country. However, none of these measures have passed. Maryland’s contributory negligence law has also come under attack in the court system. That said, in the most recent case bringing the issue to the court’s attention, the court declined to get rid of the doctrine, explaining that it was up to the lawmakers to pass a new law. So, for the time being, Maryland accident victims are stuck with the state’s contributory negligence doctrine.
Given this reality, it is imperative that Maryland vehicle accident victims know what constitutes negligence. One common – but incorrect – assumption is that an accident victim will not be able to pursue a claim for compensation if they were injured while not wearing a seatbelt.
Under Maryland law, all drivers and passengers are required to wear a seatbelt regardless of where they are seated in a car. However, the same statute that requires motorists wear a seatbelt also provides some limitations on the use of this information. Under Maryland Code § 22-412.3(h), evidence that a motorist was not wearing their seatbelt cannot:
- Be considered evidence of negligence;
- Be considered evidence of contributory negligence;
- Limit the liability of a party (including an insurance company);
- Reduce a claim for damages.
Thus, Maryland law precludes a defendant in a Maryland car accident case from introducing evidence that the accident victim was not wearing a seatbelt in both the liability and damages stages of a trial. Importantly, this law governs the introduction of evidence and does not just provide a limitation on what a defendant can argue. Essentially, this means that whether an accident victim was wearing a seatbelt is wholly irrelevant to the trial.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Car Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. Even if you are unsure about the ultimate success of your claim, contact the dedicated Maryland injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC to schedule a free consultation. We have decades of collective experience handling all types of injury claims and know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. We are skilled in negotiating with insurance companies, and will not hesitate to take a case to trial if the other side is unwilling to offer a fair settlement. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule your free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Dismisses South-by-Southwest Drunk-Driving Case, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published October 2, 2018.
Can Maryland Injury Victims Stack Insurance Policies?, Maryland Car Accident Attorney Blog, published September 25, 2018.