How Contributory Negligence can Undermine a Maryland Auto Injury Claim

For the majority of drivers, the thought of losing control of their car or light truck is hardly a concern, mainly because many years of driving experience and a reliance on a well-maintained vehicle almost assures that as long as the driver remains alert and aware of the traffic patterns around him, there should be no problems. But this assumes normal circumstances, not extraordinary or unexpected emergencies.

Unfortunately, traffic collisions occur at the most inopportune times and with drastic and often serious results. As experienced personal injury lawyers in the Baltimore area, the legal team at the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understand full well that many victims of automobile and commercial trucking accidents never expected to be involved in a roadway wreck, much less injured and laying in a hospital bed as a result. For these people, a consultation with a qualified auto accident specialist may be the best course of action.

Being caught up in a car, truck, or motorcycle crash is hardly something to look forward to. However, once an accident has taken place and the injured party believes it is in his or her best interest to file a personal injury claim, it is important to determine whether or not there are sufficient legal grounds to pursue the client’s claim. Often times, there should be enough evidence to prove negligence on the part of a motorist who caused injury to another driver, vehicle passengers, or pedestrians.

But, while many auto, truck and motorcycle collisions are the result of one driver’s error or outright negligence, some crashes may be shown to have been caused by both the defendant and the plaintiff. Under such circumstances, the defendant’s lawyer may try to find fault with the plaintiff’s actions, which in court could undermine the personal injury claim altogether.

This common defense is known in legal circles as “contributory negligence.” Here in Maryland, courts still recognize an old holdover rule pertaining to instances of contributory negligence. Simply put, this type of defense is used to show that the victim’s own negligence in some way contributed to the accident in question and, hence, to the plaintiff’s own injuries. In such cases it is possible for the court to rule against a plaintiff who is attempting to recover damages in an auto injury case.

Under Maryland common law, any negligence on the plaintiff’s part will completely prevent recovery of any damages. This is often a shock to victims who have ended up in the emergency room through what they believe was no fault of their own. Unfortunately, unless the plaintiff can show the court that there was absolutely no contributory negligence on his or her part, the case could be lost.

Even if a skilled lawyer can prove that the defendant was, say, 99 percent at fault in causing the accident, the remaining one percent attributed to the plaintiff can ruin the case. In most other states -- those that employ a version of what is known as “comparative negligence” law -- even if the defense attorneys can show some amount of contributory negligence, the result would normally be a corresponding reduction in the damage award, but not a complete loss as would be the situation in a Maryland courtroom, or even a court in the District of Columbia, which observes the same doctrine.

As Baltimore auto injury attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen have years of experience preparing personal injury cases with all of Maryland’s legal statutes in mind. When a victim of a car, truck or motorcycle accident requests assistance, our legal staff researches the accident in detail using police reports, witness accounts and other important evidence that will fortify our client’s car or trucking accident claim.

As a Maryland personal injury law firm, Lebowitz & Mzhen understands the importance of proving that the defendant was negligent in his or her actions, which ultimately led to the injury of our client. Whether the defendant was simply careless in the operation of his vehicle or if there was outright negligence on his part, our goal is to prove to the court that full responsibility for the accident resides with the negligent driver, and to show the court that the plaintiff was never at fault and should be awarded the claimed damages.

As experienced Baltimore personal injury lawyers skilled in representing victims of auto-related accidents, the Lebowitz & Mzhen legal team is fully aware of the need to compensate those innocent individuals who have been badly hurt as a result of another person’s thoughtless actions. Our attorneys are ready to discuss your passenger car, commercial vehicle or motorcycle accident case. We help potential clients to understand their auto accident case in terms of Maryland injury law, as well as provide viable options for filing a claim and to advise you of your rights under the law.

Injury cases most always involve claims for medical costs, rehab expenses, and even damages for pain and suffering. If an accident results in the victim being unable to perform his or her job, then it is also likely that recovery for lost wages due to severe bodily injuries may also be included. It is important to remember that an experienced injury attorney should also have a fair amount of courtroom expertise.

Whether one’s case involves a driver who was negligent through a lack of attention, drunk or impaired by drugs, or outwardly aggressive in his driving behavior prior to the crash, we recommend that everyone consider the benefits of consulting with a qualified Maryland personal injury attorney. Your life, your financial health, and the future for your family may hang in the balance. This is why there is no good reason not to speak with a skilled car accident lawyer in the wake of a serious car or truck crash. If you are seeking compensation for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, or pain and suffering, feel free to contact us today at (800) 654-1949, or you may email either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.