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What is the effect of contributory negligence in Maryland?

In Maryland, if you have been injured because of the negligence of another person, you may be less likely to recover damages resulting from your injury if your own negligence contributed to the cause of your injury. This is so because Maryland law still recognizes the doctrine of contributory negligence as the law of the land.

When a person’s negligence is involved in their own injury, they cannot recover even if another person’s negligence was much more serious. This is true unless an exception to contributory negligence applies, such as when a plaintiff is a young child, the “last clear change doctrine” applies, or the case is a in strict liability case, according to the American Bar Association. While some not versed in the law may not recognize anything unusual in the Maryland rule, others, aware that only a handful of jurisdictions still recognize contributory negligence, may consider it a “dinosaur” that should be replaced by the more simple, logical and fair doctrine of comparative negligence. When comparative negligence is the rule, an injured person’s ability to recover damages is reduced in proportion to their negligence in the case.

One effect of contributory negligence is that it discourages an injured person from voluntarily taking responsibility for his or her part in causing the injury or admitting fault of any kind in the event of injury. If a store owner questioned you after a fall, for example, to ascertain whether you would admit to acting carelessly, you would do well to avoid answering and opt for consulting with an attorney instead of freely answering the questions of a potential defendant.

This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be taken as legal advice for any particular case.

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