In cases where more than one party is at fault, some plaintiffs may be barred from recovery altogether. The laws concerning the effect of the plaintiff’s negligence vary depending on the jurisdiction. The law that applies in Maryland truck accident cases is the doctrine of contributory negligence, which is a particularly harsh law for Maryland personal injury plaintiffs.
Contributory negligence comes from the common law, and has been the law in Maryland since 1847. Under the doctrine of contributory negligence, if the plaintiff is found even partially at fault for the damages, the plaintiff is barred from recovery. Many have criticized the doctrine of contributory negligence, as it leads to harsh consequences and what many consider unfair results. Few states still follow the contributory negligence doctrine.
The General Assembly of Maryland has so far rejected the adoption of comparative negligence, which could replace the contributory negligence doctrine. Under the general comparative fault doctrine, or “pure comparative negligence,” the fault of both the plaintiff and the defendant are considered, but comparative fault only reduces the award by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault. Under pure comparative negligence, a plaintiff can recover even if the plaintiff is found mostly at fault. Under some comparative fault doctrines, a plaintiff can recover as long as the plaintiff is found 50% or less at fault. This is generally referred to as “modified comparative negligence.”