How Contributory Negligence Comes Into Play in Personal Injury Cases

How Contributory Negligence Comes Into Play in Personal Injury Cases

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If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you may be eligible to file a personal injury claim. However, before you do this, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some of this legal sector’s most relevant principles, including contributory negligence. In this guide, we explore personal injury law, contributory negligence, and how the two relate. We also provide some context on these legal matters and their prominence in the state of Maryland (MD).

What Is a Personal Injury Case?

Personal injury law (sometimes known as tort law) provides an injured person with the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit and seek damages for losses stemming from the incident. The purpose of this type of law is to assist in the healing of the injured person, both physically and emotionally. Damages are intended to make the injured person “whole” again after they’ve suffered due to someone else’s negligent or intentional behavior.

Personal injury law is often complex and tricky for a layman to navigate; this often leads people to seek the assistance of a personal injury lawyer who is familiar with the system.

Personal Injury Law in Maryland

Personal injury cases in Maryland remain a prevalent problem. In 2016, Maryland’s private and public sector employers reported a total of 65,500 cases of nonfatal occupational injury and illness. The number equates to an incidence rate of 3.3 injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time employees. Of these cases, 18,600 were severe enough to require the worker to take time off in order to recover from their injury or illness. 

What Is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence refers to a plaintiff’s failure to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety. The plaintiff is the party who lodges a claim against another party (the defendant). Contributory negligence is often used as a defense by defense attorneys, who tend to claim that the plaintiff’s actions increased the likelihood of the accident occurring. As a result, a contributory negligence claim can significantly impact a plaintiff’s ability to maximize their personal injury claim because it can affect the amount of compensation that a plaintiff receives (if any).

Contributory Negligence in Maryland

Contributory negligence in MD was first introduced in 1847 in a case known as Irwin v. Sprigg. It was upheld as recently as 2013, however, in the case of Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia. At one of his practices, soccer player James Kyle Coleman kicked a soccer ball into the net. As he went to go get the ball, he jumped and grabbed the crossbar of the net. However, the goalposts weren’t properly secured to the ground. As a result, Mr. Coleman fell onto his back before the weight of the crossbar came down on his face and seriously injured him. He sustained multiple facial fractures and even needed surgery. He sued the organization, but they argued that he displayed contributory negligence. The verdict found both parties to be partially negligent; their partial acceptance of the contributory negligence defense means it is still allowed to be used in Maryland courts today.

There are several complexities in the areas of personal injury law and contributory negligence. Similarly, the two principles can overlap significantly depending on the details of the case. By educating yourself on both concepts, you’ll be better prepared to avoid contributory negligence becoming an obstacle in your own personal injury lawsuit.

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