Contributory Negligence Decision Could Help Maryland Plaintiffs

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Maryland personal injury lawyers face a standard that does not match up with nine out of 10 other states: if they are partially at fault as plaintiffs, the defendant does not have to pay a jury award, even if the defendant was mostly to blame. The Maryland version of the Supreme Court, known as the Court of Appeals, may decide to change that.

There are several situations where a plaintiff would want to sue a company with the help of a Maryland car accident attorney even if they were at fault. For example, someone who crashed because they were driving over the speed limit certainly shares some of the blame. However, if the safety equipment in the vehicle did not meet federal requirements, or differed from that advertised by the automaker, it would exacerbate any injuries.

Another example that is currently before the Court of Appeals involves a soccer player. He was hanging from the crossbar of a goal, fell, and fractured his head. Kyle Coleman, along with his Maryland product liability attorney, argues that the goal was defective (players often horse around by hanging off the goal), while the local soccer organization says that he was under the influence of drugs. If the court decides to apportion blame to both parties, the organization would have to use money from its insurer.

However, there is opposition from at least one state delegate, Ben Kramer. He argues that if the highest court in the state allows for contributory negligence, it would increase the number of lawsuits and force businesses to pay more for insurance. Both of those points are accurate. They also both miss the point in why it is a good idea for Maryland personal injury lawyers and their clients.

It is clear in the examples above that companies and organizations play a role in the injuries suffered by these plaintiffs. Courts in other states have been able to carefully assess the damage caused by defective products or medical malpractice without assigning full responsibility. When it is clear that they have contributed to damages, it seems unfair to force the person who was hurt to meet a higher standard than others at fault.

Take the criminal punishments meted out for accomplices in felony criminal cases. If they are involved in planning the crime, or help those involved in it after the act, they are all legally culpable. If that’s the case on the criminal side, it is unclear why legislators would expect anything different on the civil side.

People who feel that they have been injured as a result of negligence by others have legal options available to them. Consult with a qualified Maryland product liability attorney to find out whether you are eligible to pursue a claim.

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