In many Maryland truck accidents, an accident victim’s injuries are solely the fault of a single defendant. For example, if an intoxicated or sleep-deprived truck driver causes an accident on a Maryland highway, chances are that the other motorists involved in the collision could not have done anything to avoid or prevent the accident. These cases tend to be straightforward.
There are other Maryland truck accidents, however, in which the determination of who was at fault is far from crystal clear. In fact, it is common in Maryland personal injury cases for the defendant to claim that the plaintiff shared in the responsibility for causing an accident. This is because, under Maryland’s strict contributory negligence rule, if a defendant is able to shift even a small percentage of fault onto the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s claim will be dismissed. Virginia also applies the contributory negligence doctrine to most personal injury actions.
Maryland and Virginia are somewhat unique in their application of the contributory negligence doctrine. Most other states apply what is known as the comparative fault doctrine. Under a comparative fault analysis, a plaintiff who is partially at fault for causing an accident can still recover for their injuries, but will have their total compensation award reduced by their own percentage of fault.
The difference between the two doctrines becomes clear in the context of a real-world example. Consider a multi-vehicle truck accident in which the plaintiff sustained $500,000 in damages and the plaintiff is determined to be 10% at fault, Truck Driver A is 30% at fault, and Truck Driver B 60% at fault. Under a comparative fault analysis, the plaintiff would be able to recover a total of $450,000, which is the total damages ($500,000) less the plaintiff’s percentage of fault (10% of $500,000, or $50,000). Truck Driver A would owe the plaintiff $150,000, and Truck Driver B would be responsible for $300,000. However, under Maryland’s contributory negligence framework, the plaintiff would be entitled to nothing because he shared responsibility for the accident.
It is important that injury victims keep in mind that Maryland insurance companies are aware of the state’s contributory fault doctrine, and that it tends to work in their favor. Thus, insurance companies routinely deny accident victims’ claims who may be found to have been partially at fault, hoping that the claim is dropped. Maryland truck accident victims should not take the word of an interested insurance company regarding the strength of their case, and should consult with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney for advice.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Truck Accident?
If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Maryland truck accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you have endured. At the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC we have a proud history of representing injury victims across the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. area. We handle Maryland truck accidents, as well as other Maryland auto accidents, in addition to medical malpractice cases, slip-and-fall accidents, and wrongful death cases. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today. Calling is risk-free because we will not send you a bill for our services unless we are able to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.