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What are Contributory and Comparative Negligence?

Contributory and comparative negligence are systems that help determine liability in cases in which both parties in an accident have some level of responsibility. These are issues commonly associated with car accident cases, as it’s somewhat common for both drivers to have been at least partially negligent while driving. 

Comparative negligence 

Under comparative negligence law, fault gets allocated between all involved parties. For example, if Driver A makes a left turn and hits Driver B, who was speeding through the intersection, Driver B may choose to sue Driver A for negligence. However, Driver A would be able to argue that Driver B was partially at fault because he was speeding through the intersection. As a result, there could be an 80/20 split in terms of percentages of fault, and that would determine the percentage of total compensation received by each side in the case. 

Some states use “pure” comparative negligence, in which accident victories can recover even if they were negligent in their driving. Other states use “modified” comparative negligence rules, in which an accident victim’s compensation could be limited if their fault was determined to be over a certain percentage. 

Contributory negligence 

There are only a few states that still have contributory negligence laws, and Maryland is one of them. As a result, you could be able to avoid any sort of liability if you can prove that the accident victim’s negligence was a contributing factor in the car accident. This would basically prevent an accident victim from recovering any amount of compensation if the defendant had any percentage of responsibility in the case. 

You can see why so few states still use this method — it’s outdated and makes things more difficult on the victim. However, the La Plata car accident lawyers at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A. can help you seek monetary damages despite this law.


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