What is the Difference Between Contributory and Comparative Negligence?

Most states across the nation go by a comparative negligence understanding of the law when it comes to personal injury claims and car accident cases. In fact, only a small handful of jurisdictions subscribe to the alternative option, contributory negligence. Along with our state of Maryland, only Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington D.C. opt for contributory negligence.

Well, what’s the difference?

What is the Difference Between Contributory and Comparative Negligence

The court will decide who is liable for an accident or injury in a comparative fault or comparative negligence state. If there are multiple parties responsible for the accident, then the court will compare fault and the damages will be divided by the comparative percentage. Suppose a person who was the primary victim of an accident was 5% at fault for the accident, in this case, the primary victim’s comparative recovery will only be able to recover 95% the damages because she was 5% at fault for the accident.

By comparison, in contributory negligence states, if a person was in any way partially responsible for an accident, then he/she cannot hope to recover any damages for his/her injuries or property damage from the other at-fault party. Critics believe it to be an especially cruel and callous law. If a person was seriously injured and required extensive medical treatment, but he/she was 1% responsible for the accident, then he/she cannot hope to recover anything in terms of economic or non-economic compensation from the other driver’s car insurance.

Only with an experienced personal injury attorney will you have any hope of winning the uphill battle of filing a personal injury lawsuit against the party with the majority of responsibility for the accident. Contact the Law Office of Alex Poberesky to schedule a free consultation to speak with the legal team about your case.

What Types of Cases Could an Individual Use the Contributory Negligence Defense?

Contributory negligence claims may apply to any personal injury case where one party’s negligence contributed to the accident occurring.

Examples of such cases may include the following:

  • Auto accidents such as car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and commercial trucking accidents.
  • Bicycle accidents.
  • Dog bites and other animal attacks.
  • Pedestrian accidents.
  • Premises liability accidents.
  • Slip and fall accidents.
  • Wrongful deaths.

Why Does Maryland Keep Contributory Negligence Laws Alive While Other States Move On?

Considering contributory negligence laws’ unfair nature, one might wonder why Maryland continues to employ these rules for personal injury cases. And indeed, there have been several attempts to change the state’s laws. But for now, the law remains in effect as is.

Why Does Maryland Keep Contributory Negligence Laws Alive While Other States Move On

The reason for the continued use of contributory negligence laws isn’t that complicated. As is, contributory negligence laws keep the legal system running smoothly and efficiently, and supporters claim that the law keeps insurance costs low. But, perhaps most cynically, supporters of contributory negligence laws claim that the law encourages motorists to drive more cautiously on the roads. The reason is that if they’re in an accident, they won’t be able to recover damages if it’s even partially their fault.

Are There Any Changes Coming for the Law?

Recently, a case before the Maryland Supreme Court might’ve put contributory negligence to bed for good. Unfortunately, it didn’t go that way in the end. Even in defeat, though, those who wish to see contributory negligence laws struck and replaced in Maryland were given a glimmer of hope, as Judge Harrell predicted that the law would be defeated eventually.

How Can a Lawyer Argue Contributory Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?

A defense lawyer defending his/her client from paying damages for an accident may opt to employ the contributory negligence defense. This means that the defendant may argue that the other party was at least partially responsible for the accident. If successful, neither the defendant nor the defendant’s insurance company would need to pay damages to the other party in the accident case because the other party’s contributory negligence disqualified him/her from recovering compensation.

Personal injury attorneys have the burden of proof to establish that the other party was fully responsible for the accident. Failing to prove that the other party was at fault will result in the injured party not receiving any money for economic or non-economic damages.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today

Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

After any accident, an injured victim should contact a personal injury attorney without any delay. But that goes double for accident victims in contributory negligence states like Maryland. Fighting contributory negligence claims can be an uphill battle and is often draining, especially if you are not familiar with the legal system. You need an experienced attorney in your corner for that legal battle. Anything less, and you could find yourself overwhelmed by laws, regulations, and an aggressive opposing legal counsel.

The lawyers and legal staff of the Law Office of Alex Poberesky, P.A., have years of experience helping clients recover the settlements they are owed. Contributory negligence is an unfair law, but there are ways that our attorneys help clients recover maximum compensation for their injuries. Attorney Poberesky is a committed advocate of the people and a well-respected figure in the legal community. Our lawyers believe in the importance of providing our clients with no-nonsense legal representation, believing that promising the moon does a disservice to our clients and the legal profession as a whole.

To discuss your legal case in more detail, contact our Maryland personal injury law firm today to schedule a free strategy session. You may reach us at (410) 484-0400.