Contributory Negligence in Maryland Motorcycle Accident Cases

As a general rule, anyone who has been injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident can bring a claim for compensation against the party that they believe to be responsible for causing the crash. If the motorcycle accident victim is successful, they may be able to recover compensation for their past and future medical expenses and lost wages, as well as for any pain and suffering they endured as a result of the accident.

However, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. have some of the strictest laws when it comes to determining which motorcycle accident victims can obtain compensation for their injuries. Each of these jurisdictions applies a slightly different version of a doctrine called “contributory negligence.” Under a contributory negligence framework, an accident victim is not permitted to recover for their injuries if they share responsibility for the accident that resulted in their injuries.

This may sound like a harsh law, and it is. In fact, even if an accident victim is found to be just 5% at fault for causing a collision, they will be barred from recovering anything for their injuries. The doctrine of contributory negligence used to be common across the country, but over time most states have passed legislation abolishing the doctrine in favor of a more accident-victim-friendly alternative. In fact, aside from Maryland Virginia, and Washington, D.C, only two other states apply the contributory negligence rule.

Does Contributory Negligence Always Apply?

Thankfully, courts will not always apply the contributory negligence framework. For example, under the “last clear chance” doctrine, a plaintiff will not be precluded from recovering for their injuries even if they were contributorily negligent if the defendant had the last opportunity to avoid the collision but did not do so. For example, assume a motorcyclist falls after taking a turn too fast and, while he is lying in the road, is then run over by a motorist who was distracted while talking on the phone. The motorcyclist may not be precluded from recovering from the driver because the driver had the last clear chance to avoid the collision but failed to do so.

Interestingly, while some may argue that failing to wear a helmet is negligent, courts will not allow a defendant motorist to argue that a motorcyclist was negligent for not wearing a helmet. The same goes for a motorist’s failure to wear a seatbelt.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Motorcycle Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland motorcycle accident, contact the dedicated Maryland personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we have extensive experience pursuing fair compensation for our clients who have been seriously injured in Maryland motorcycle accidents. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim against the parties responsible for your injuries, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Law Enforcement Agencies Are Increasingly Relying on Technology to Determine the Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Maryland and Across the US, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published December 13, 2018.

Cyclists Beware, “Counterfeit” Bicycle Helmets Are Becoming More Common in Maryland and Nationwide, Maryland Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog, published November 28, 2018.

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