No, you cannot recover damages if you were partially at fault for an accident in Maryland, even if your negligence was only one percent of the total fault. Maryland follows the harsh rule of contributory fault.
Very few states use the contributory fault rule because of its severe consequences that many people find unfair. The other driver could be 99 percent at fault and get away without paying a single dollar for your injuries and losses under the rule of contributory fault. We can answer other questions you might have about your accident case in our FAQs.
How Comparative Fault Works
Most states use comparative fault, which allows an injured person to collect some compensation from the at-fault driver even if the injured individual was partially at fault. Under the comparative fault rule, the injured person can recover money damages reduced by their percentage of the total fault.
For example, if your losses were $100,000 and you were one percent at fault, you could collect $99,000 after your total damages were reduced by one percent ($1,000), representing your portion of the fault.
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Contrasting Contributory Fault with Comparative Fault
In Maryland, the contributory fault rule would achieve a vastly different result. Even one percent of fault would give the other driver’s insurance company the right to deny your entire claim. Of course, you might not actually have any fault in the collision that injured you.
Fighting False Allegations of Fault After a Maryland Car Accident
You could lose your entire case if the insurer successfully proves that you were even a tiny amount at fault, which is why you will want to work with a personal injury lawyer on your claim. When an injured person tries to handle their claim on their own without a lawyer, the claims adjuster might allege that the injured individual was partly to blame for the collision.
People who do not have their own lawyer might simply give up on their injury claim, not realizing that they can contest the insurance company’s assessment of fault against them. The insurance company wants to increase its profits, so it has a financial motivation to duck out of paying claims.
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Recorded Statements and Fault
The claims adjuster will likely ask you to give a recorded statement. In this exercise, the adjuster asks a list of questions and records your responses. After the interview, the claims adjuster pores over the transcript, looking for anything that could support an allegation that you contributed to causing the car crash.
Your personal injury lawyer can protect you from this outcome by providing the information the adjuster needs instead of you giving a recorded statement. Your words can get taken out of context or twisted into something you did not mean to say with a recorded statement. You should not admit fault or give a recorded statement after a car accident.
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Factors That Could Contribute to a Car Accident
You are not automatically at fault just because you were driving a vehicle that crashed. Driver error is not the only cause of collisions. Here are some other things that can contribute to a car accident:
- Defective vehicle or parts: A defective tire could blow out, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
- Substandard repairs: Let’s say that you took your car in for routine brake service. The mechanic did not follow industry standards when working on your car. As a result of the faulty automobile service, your vehicle could not slow down in time to avoid a collision.
- Traffic conditions: During gridlocked traffic, for example, you might not be able to change lanes to allow traffic to merge onto a highway.
- Other drivers: Another driver’s negligence, like speeding, can cause a crash.
- Weather: Extreme weather conditions might cause car crashes without any driver negligence.
- Adverse road conditions: Potholes, icy road surfaces, or debris can cause crashes.
- Engineering or design errors: The intersection might include features that block a driver’s view.
- Inadequate lighting: You might not have been able to see well because of poor street lighting.
You can talk to a personal injury lawyer about other factors that could be relevant to your situation.
Types of Recoverable Damages After a Car Accident in Maryland
If you can prove that the other driver caused the accident and that you were not at fault, you could recover monetary damages for your losses. Some kinds of compensation in car accident injury claims include the following:
- Medical expenses to treat your wounds
- Lost income while you were recuperating
- Reduced earning capacity if you have to accept a lower-paying position
- Pain and suffering for the physical pain and emotional distress of the collision and your wounds
- Other losses like disfigurement and the loss of enjoyment of life
Every car accident injury case is unique. The amount you might recover from the at-fault party will depend on your circumstances.
The Danger of Waiting Too Long To Seek Damages
Even after you defeat the insurance company’s false allegations of fault, you could still lose your right to compensation for your injuries and losses. Maryland limits the length of time people have to file lawsuits. Under Md. Code, Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 5-101, a personal injury lawsuit generally must get filed within three years.
Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 3-904 generally sets the filing deadline for wrongful death lawsuits at three years if your close relative died because of a car crash. With either statute of limitation, if your lawsuit does not get filed in time, Maryland law will forever bar you from seeking compensation from the negligent party.
Getting Help with Your Maryland Car Accident Case
You do not have to accept the blame for a car accident that you did not cause. The personal injury attorneys at Jenner Law will work relentlessly for you to get the compensation that you deserve. You can reach out to us today for a free consultation.