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Slip-and-fall cases when the plaintiff is partly to blame

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2020 | Premises Liability

The law may entitle those involved in a slip-and-fall incident in Maryland to damages. Their eligibility will depend on negligence and proximate cause, as with all personal injury claims.

Maryland laws for personal injury claims are stricter than most, which can affect the preparation of a case.

Comparative negligence

As the Maryland Court of Appeals explains, most states subscribe to some version of comparative negligence. This legal doctrine dictates that injured parties can still be eligible to receive damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident.

In these states, the amount of total damages decreases by the percent of fault a court ascribes to the plaintiff. For example, if a court finds that a customer was 20% at fault for her fall, she would be eligible for 80% of the damages a court assessed.

Contributory negligence

Maryland and Washington, D.C., instead recognize contributory negligence. Plaintiffs are not eligible for any damages at all if a court finds any degree of negligence. There have been many attempts to overturn this doctrine in favor of comparative negligence, but so far, both the legislature and court opinions have only reaffirmed the current system.

Exceptions to contributory negligence

In some circumstances, a party may receive damages even when partially at fault. This is due to several exceptions in the law. For example, children under 5 are exempt from this restriction as the court does not assign to them the same duty of care that it does to adults.

But perhaps the most notable exception, as Cornell Law explains, is that of last clear chance. The doctrine of last clear chance allows negligent plaintiffs to still receive damages if they can adequately demonstrate that the defendant had the final opportunity to avoid the injury and did not.