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How does contributory negligence affect car accident cases?

Car crashes might be an everyday occurrence in Maryland, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with when you find yourself the victim of a car accident. Even seemingly minor fender-benders can cause injuries that can take a long time (and a lot of money) to recover from. In these situations, car accident victims may wonder if they have any recourse. One option that might be available to some is to pursue a lawsuit based on negligence.

In general, in order to prove negligence, it must be shown that a person had a duty of care toward the victim, which was breached (that is, broken) and subsequently both actually and proximately caused the victim's damages, meaning that but for the defendant's negligence the victim wouldn't have been harmed and also that it was the defendant's actions (not another cause) that lead to the victim's damages. However, there may be instances in which, through what is known as "contributory negligence" more than one party might be held liable, or conversely, a person may be barred from obtaining compensation.

For example, say you are a passenger in a car that ran a red light and collided with another car that also tried to run that same red light. In this situation, through contributory negligence there might be two defendants -- the drivers of both cars. However, say you were driving and ran a red light, colliding with another car that also ran the same red light. In this situation, you may be barred from obtaining compensation, as your negligent actions contributed to the harm you suffered.

While this post is a good starting point for those who want more information about contributory negligence in Maryland, it cannot serve as the basis of any specific lawsuit. Those who are interested in pursuing compensation through a negligence filing are encouraged to contact their personal injury attorneys, who can evaluate their situations and provide advice.

Source: FindLaw, "Maryland Negligence Laws," accessed June 22, 2017

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