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How Difficult is it to Prove 100-percent Fault on the Part of a Negligent Maryland Driver?

Because Maryland is an “at-fault” insurance state, proving that a defendant was 100 percent at fault in an auto accident-related personal injury case can often be very difficult, depending of course on the specific circumstances. As a matter of fact, many plaintiffs have seen their auto injury claim thrown out because the defense was able to show that the plaintiff was simply not wearing his or her seatbelt at the time of the crash, thus contributing to some extend to their injuries.

Whether or not one believes the Maryland legal statutes to be fair in this regard, it is nonetheless true that if the defendant’s legal team can prove that the plaintiff did anything that contributed to the occurrence of the collision or the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries, the chances of recovering compensation will be non-existent. Such is the situation with contributory negligence rules in Maryland.

Here are a few examples how the legal theory of contributory negligence can cause real-world trouble for an injured party seeking relief from a negligent motorist following a Maryland car, truck or motorcycle accident.

Cell Phone Use

Driver A is traveling along the beltway, in the appropriate lane and obeying the posted speed limit while talking with her babysitter on the phone. All of a sudden, Driver B performs an illegal lane change into Driver A’s lane, forcing her to steer away from the impending collision and leave the roadway as a result, after which Driver A’s car hits a roadside barrier and causing her serious injury. Even though the facts point to Driver B’s negligent actions having been 100-percent the cause of the accident and Driver A’s resulting injuries, the defense obtained Driver A’s cellphone logs and can legitimately argue that because she was “on the phone,” Driver A could not have been completely focused on her driving and therefore was partially negligent as to the cause of the accident.

Faulty Brake Lamps

Motorist A is driving safely as he approaches an intersection and begins to slow down for a red traffic signal. Motorist B, who witnesses testify was following too closely strikes Motorist A’s vehicle, causing the driver-side airbag to deploy, which causes lacerations to Motorist A’s face. In the course of the personal injury lawsuit against Motorist B it is revealed that the Motorist A’s brake lights were not working correctly and that the plaintiff was aware of their condition for some time and had, as yet, failed to have them fixed. As a result, the defense can argue that Motorist B was not sufficiently alerted to the plaintiff’s intent to stop and cannot be held totally responsible for the collision. The court rules in favor of Motorist B even though the defendant was following too close.

Exceeding the Posted Speed Limit

Approaching a busy intersection, Driver A is moving safely with traffic, which the plaintiff revealed in the police report was about 8mph over the posted 40mph limit. As Driver A passed through the intersection on a green signal, Driver B who later admits to texting while driving runs the red signal and strikes Driver A’s vehicle, causing serious and lasting physical injury and long-term pain and discomfort. The plaintiff argues that Driver B is at fault for running the red light, which is obvious; however, because the plaintiff was driving in excess of the speed limit, the defense argues contributory negligence, which bars the plaintiff from recovering any damages.

From the above examples, it should be obvious that winning a personal injury lawsuit following a Maryland car accident case can be much more difficult than many people anticipate. The importance of choosing the right legal team can make the difference between recovering damages and having to foot the bill for all of your medical bills. A skilled Maryland personal injury lawyer understands the importance of proving absolute fault of the part of the motorist responsible for your injuries.

Proving fault can often be a challenge, which is why what you do after an accident can be critical to the success of your claim. Consider the following pointers if ever you are involved in a serious automobile or trucking-related traffic accident:

  • Take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident and the specific damage to each of them
  • Include photographic evidence of the crash site and surrounding area (traffic control signs, tire marks on the roadway, car parts or other debris on the road surface or shoulder, traffic flow near the accident site, etc.)
  • Obtain contact information of eyewitnesses to the incident
  • Document your injuries and obtain medical evidence that indicates how those injuries were likely sustained
  • If possible, obtain data from the electronic control modules (ECMs) from all of the cars involved in the crash
  • Request an accident report from the responding police officer(s) or the local police department
  • Try to secure any video footage that may have captured the crash as it happened

Filing a Maryland personal injury lawsuit following a severe car accident is almost essential when attempting to recover monetary compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, not to mention damages for pain and suffering or other intangible losses. Keep in mind, however, that if the defendant’s legal team can show evidence of any negligence on your part, the entire lawsuit may be in jeopardy. Because of Maryland’s tough contributory negligence rules, it is essential that you retain an experienced auto accident lawyer to represent your interests.

At Lebowitz & Mhzen, LLC, we have the training and courtroom experience to help you and your family recover the damages due to you under the law. Contact us today to better understand your rights under the laws of the State of Maryland. The initial consultation is free and you are under no obligation.

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I am proud to have had Lebowitz & Mzhen represent me in an automobile personal injury case I was involved with. Not only did they come through with a settlement worth far more than I thought possible, the entire office was always friendly, knowledgeable, and ready to answer any questions I had. Should an incident like this occur again, I will not hesitate to contact Lebowitz & Mzhen for their counsel, advice and representation, and I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone seeking honest and effective attorneys. Mark B.
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