If you were walking through downtown Baltimore and came to a crosswalk, there’s always the risk that someone could hit you while you were traveling to the other side of the street. However, you’d probably feel pretty comfortable assuming you could sue them for damages, correct? Not so fast. Due to something called contributory negligence, your lawsuit could leave you disappointed.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
The contributory negligence law says that if you play any role in an accident happening—pedestrian, motor vehicle, etc.—your insurance claim could be denied. Furthermore, you could automatically be barred from garnering any compensation or damages for your injuries.
Many victims’ rights groups have tried to overturn this law in the past. Despite the protests of these activists, the laws remain in force in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and legitimate attempts at overturning it have failed. It should be noted, though, that in other states, these laws have been successfully altered or removed. An alternative idea would be comparative negligence, in which responsibility could be shared between two parties involved in an accident, though not necessarily evenly. This way, the party playing the lesser role—and often the one who suffered the worst injuries—could still claim insurance money.
One major reason these laws do not get replaced or overturned is that insurance companies fight off the reforms. As it stands, these laws work quite well in their favor. Again, you only have to have played the smallest role in the accident for this law to work against you, no matter how badly you were injured.
Contributory Negligence Is Not a Reason Not to Sue
The above certainly doesn’t paint a pretty picture, but that doesn’t mean you have to drop any attempt at a lawsuit because you didn’t look both ways before crossing a street or tried to cross to the other side before a green light would put you in danger.
The other party involved still has to prove that you were being negligent in your actions. If they can’t, so long as you can prove they caused an accident, the lawsuit will still be yours. As such, you’ll be able to collect your insurance money too.
The Importance of a Qualified Legal Counsel
Hopefully, this explanation of contributory negligence not only educates you on the law, but helps you see why it’s so important to hire a qualified attorney if you ever find yourself the victim of an accident. If you mistakenly assume that someone else is obviously to blame, you’re taking your future into your own hands. As we mentioned, the contributory negligence law has left more than a few people walking away from the courtroom heartbroken, despite having done nothing wrong.
At Ingerman and Horwitz, we understand the contributory negligence law. We also understand how to win personal injury lawsuits in spite of it. Call us today at 1-800-776-4529. Even if you aren’t sure of your case, we’ll help you figure it out with a free consultation.