Dear Reader,

If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, contributory negligence may play a big part in whether or not you’re compensated for your injuries and losses, especially in states like Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC.

As a personal injury attorney representing clients in these jurisdictions, navigating contributory negligence requires a deep understanding and strategic approach.

In this blog post, talk about what contributory negligence involves, its implications for personal injury cases, and strategies for effectively handling such cases.

What is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence is a legal doctrine that can keep you from recovering any damages if you are found to have contributed, even in the slightest manner, to your own injury. Unlike comparative negligence, where damages are apportioned based on each party’s degree of fault, contributory negligence is a strict rule that can completely bar recovery for the plaintiff if they are found to share any fault, regardless of how minimal, for the accident.

  1. Maryland follows a pure contributory negligence rule, meaning if the plaintiff is found to be even 1% at fault for the accident, they are completely barred from recovering damages. This makes Maryland one of the harshest jurisdictions for plaintiffs in personal injury cases.
  2. Virginia also adheres to the pure contributory negligence rule. Plaintiffs found to have contributed to their injuries, regardless of how slight their fault may be, are barred from recovering damages. Virginia courts strictly apply this doctrine, making it challenging for plaintiffs to prevail in personal injury lawsuits.
  3. Washington DC follows a modified form of contributory negligence known as “slight/gross” contributory negligence. Under this rule, if the plaintiff’s negligence is deemed to be “slight” compared to the defendant’s “gross” negligence, they may still recover damages, but their recovery will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. However, if the plaintiff’s negligence is deemed to be more than “slight,” they are barred from recovering any damages.

Given the strictness of contributory negligence laws in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington DC, you need an experienced personal injury attorney, like myself, to:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive investigation to gather evidence supporting and minimizing any contributory negligence allegations. This includes obtaining witness statements, collecting relevant documents, and reconstructing the accident scene if necessary.
  2. Craft pleadings carefully to anticipate and address potential contributory negligence defenses. Clearly articulate your version of events and highlight any mitigating factors that may reduce or negate your alleged negligence.
  3. Engage qualified experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists or medical professionals, to provide testimony supporting your case. Expert opinions can help establish liability and refute claims of contributory negligence.
  4. In certain situations, negotiate a favorable settlement rather than risk a trial verdict. Assess the strength of your case and leverage any weaknesses in the defendant’s position to negotiate a fair settlement for your client.

Understanding and overcoming limitations caused by contributory negligence in personal injury cases requires a strategic and nuanced approach. By conducting thorough investigations, strategically pleading your case, utilizing expert testimony, and skillfully negotiating settlements, I can advocate effectively for your rights in the face of contributory negligence challenges.

If you or someone you care about is ever injured due to someone else’s negligence, I’m here to provide expert legal guidance and representation.  With 44 years of experience serving my clients with compassion and integrity, I, along with my team, are committed to fighting for your rights if you are ever involved in an auto collision or injured due to no fault of your own.

If you find yourself in need of legal assistance after sustaining injuries, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 703-761-4343 or 301-949-1515.  Protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve after an accident.

Until next time, be safe, and NEVER text while driving!

Paul Samakow

Attorney Paul Samakow

703-761-4343 or 301-949-1515

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