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Contributing to Your Own Injury in Maryland

A 45-year-old male decided to go for a bicycle ride at 11:30 p.m. in downtown Baltimore. New to the sport, the cyclist did not know the traffic rules for bicycling in the city. While biking on the sidewalk, an intoxicated male stepped out of a bar and collided with the bicyclist, who fell off his bike and landed on the left side of his body, breaking his arm and jaw. The cyclist spent two weeks in the hospital and could not work for five weeks.

Evaluating liability and applying Maryland’s pure contributory negligence rule

Although the intoxicated man contributed to the accident, the cyclist did not comply with the law prohibiting cyclists from riding on the sidewalk. Therefore, the cyclist shares a portion of blame as to the cause of the accident. Other events pertaining to the accident would have to be analyzed to assess whether the cyclist has a claim against the intoxicated man. 

Contributory negligence describes behavior that falls below the standard of conduct for self-protection. Contributory negligence exists if: 

  • The plaintiff’s act is a contributing cause of the injury.
  • The defendant is also negligent.
  • Both parties cause the plaintiff’s injury.

Even a plaintiff who is minimally negligent is barred from recovering any compensation. Although it was recently challenged in James Coleman v. Soccer Association of Columbia, the rule of contributory negligence is still followed by Maryland, and the cyclist is not likely to recover damages from the intoxicated man. Determining whether an individual contributed to the negligence that caused an accident requires a multifaceted analysis. Personal injury lawyers can meticulously review the circumstances of a person’s injury to assess if recovery is barred. 

Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A. provides attentive, effective representation. Located in La Plata, the firm represents clients in Waldorf, Ironsides, White Plains, La Plata, Indian Head and the surrounding areas. 

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