Under Maryland’s contributory negligence law, a judicial finding that a plaintiff is even the slightest bit at fault for causing an accident can result in the plaintiff being precluded from proceeding with a case against the other motorists involved in the crash. Thus, in many Maryland truck accident cases, a defendant truck driver may attempt to avoid liability by arguing that the plaintiff was also negligent in causing the accident.
Because the doctrine of contributory negligence often results in a minimally at-fault plaintiff being entirely precluded from pursuing a claim against a much more culpable driver, most states have shifted to the more forgiving comparative fault model. However, several states including Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia still apply this harsh doctrine.
A recent case, however, illustrates that mere allegations that the plaintiff is partially at fault for causing an accident will not necessarily result in the plaintiff’s inability to recover for their injuries.
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was seriously injured when he was struck by a construction vehicle. Evidently, the plaintiff approached the vehicle from behind and noticed that it was either stopped or moving very slowly in his lane. The plaintiff checked to see if there was any oncoming traffic and, when it looked clear, attempted to pass the construction vehicle by crossing the double-yellow line.
As the plaintiff was overtaking the vehicle, it made an abrupt left turn directly into the side of the plaintiff’s vehicle. The plaintiff was injured as a result of the accident and filed a personal injury lawsuit against the operator of the vehicle as well as his employer.
The defendants argued that the plaintiff should be precluded from recovering for his injuries based on the fact that he crossed the double-yellow line. At trial, each side presented evidence resulting in several vital facts being in conflict. For example, it was contested whether the vehicle was engaged in construction work at the time or was being driven to another part of the construction area. Also in conflict was whether the vehicle’s flashing yellow lights were engaged. The plaintiff’s position was that because the vehicle was stopped and was not displaying any flashing lights he was justified in crossing the double-yellow line to pass.
The case proceeded to a jury trial, where the plaintiff was awarded $3 million. The defendant’s filed an appeal, arguing that the lower court should have dismissed the plaintiff’s case because the plaintiff was contributorily negligent.
On appeal, the court affirmed the verdict. In so doing, the court detailed each of the witnesses’ testimony, concluding that there was an “abundance of conflicting evidence” before the jurors regarding whether the plaintiff was justified in crossing the double-yellow line. Given the conflicting evidence, the court held, the jury was free to find for either side.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Construction Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland construction accident, contact the dedicated Maryland truck accident lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we represent injury victims in all types of motor vehicle accidents, including Maryland truck accidents. We have a long history of aggressively serving clients across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C and are prepared to meet with you to discuss your situation. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
The Dangers of Driving in Maryland Construction Zones, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published November 12, 2018.
Maryland Emergency Workers Face Constant Danger While Working on the Road’s Shoulder, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published November 27, 2018.