In Maryland, a plaintiff injured in a car accident may receive damages according to their accident-related expenses. This means the defendant, the driver at fault for the accident, must pay the plaintiff’s lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering. However, before getting to the damages, the plaintiff must prove negligence.
Negligence is the Failure to Act
Negligence is the failure of a driver to act like an ordinary driver in the same in the same and/or circumstances. This means if the ordinary driver would have obeyed traffic laws to avoid causing a car accident, the defendant should have the same thing. If the defendant does the opposite, they are at fault for the car accident. When proving negligence, a personal injury law firm Owings Mills MD will show the court certain elements required to win the case. These elements are:
1. The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff. This is a legal responsibility not to cause harm to another driver or pedestrian.
The defendant breached the duty by causing the car accident. The court assumes the defendant did cause the accident. However, the court doesn’t assume the accident caused the plaintiff’s injuries. That is why the next step is so important.
The plaintiff suffered injuries because of the defendant’s negligence. Their injuries can be the indirect or direct result of the defendant’s actions. Defendant’s cause can be direct. This means the defendant was responsible hitting the plaintiff’s vehicle. Defendant can be the indirect cause of the car accident by doing something to make the accident happen like causing a chain-reaction wreck.
The defendant owes the plaintiff damages.
Once these elements are successfully proven, the plaintiff is awarded damages by the jury. The amount depends on the list of damages submitted to the court. The court case may not end there. Maryland personal injury law allows for the defendant to avoid paying damages by presenting a defense called contributory negligence.
Maryland is One of the Few States that Practice Contributory Negligence
Contributory negligence bars a plaintiff from recovering any damages if they were negligent in the car accident. No percentage of fault threshold is assigned to the plaintiff and defendant to prevent recovery. This means the plaintiff can negligently contribute to the accident one percent and be barred from recovering.
For example, the defendant could have caused the car accident my making an improper lane change. The plaintiff contributed to the accident by driving too slowly because they were distracted by their cell phone. The plaintiff would receive a jury award based on their accident-related expenses. However, they wouldn’t get the money because they contributed to the accident.
Check with an Attorney about How Contributory Negligence May Impact a Car Accident Case
Liability is the most discussed part of a car accident case. The other party will rarely admit fault. If they do, they may not want to pay the money. Talk to an attorney about proving the liability and if the other party will try to use contributory negligence.